There’s this story that Charles Dickens once found Danish author Hans Christian Andersen lying outside on the lawn, crying inconsolably over one bad review. I really love that this happened. It just seems like such a timeless thing a beautifully delicate, creative type might do.
In his day, Hans Christian Andersen (1805 – 1875) was one of the most renowned writers in Europe. And his life is still often viewed as a rags-to-riches fairy tale in itself.
The son of a cobbler and an illiterate washerwoman, who very likely suffered dyslexia and who struggled with a crippling fear that he was unlovable, yet whose stories remain widely recognised and beloved well over 200 years after his death, and who could clearly handle some creative criticism in a dignified and think-skinned manner – who better to seek some guidance from?
So I want to have a ponder over the lessons Hans bestowed upon us as children. Because to be honest it’s still beyond me what the moral of the Emperors New Clothes is – you can’t get arrested for indecent exposure if you make a convincing argument when the cops show up that you’re wearing pants of the mind?
The Ugly Duckling
Sometimes puberty is kind and people get better looking with age, so be nice just to be on the safe side. This is a terrible lesson.
The Little Mermaid
Seriously though its important to learn how to negotiate a good trade. Your voice and every time you walk it feels like your treading on sharp knives? Jesus do a bit of haggling! I know you really want that human soul but at least try to get it down to say… trading your sense of smell and every time you walk it feels like your treading on lego?
The Wild Swans
Shirts knitted from stinging nettles you found in cemetery will somehow help your swan brothers return to human form. Don’t try and make the best of a bad situation and teach them some kind of sign language, and get them to do your evil bidding like an army of flying monkeys. No, keep your dignity and be that odd one on the street with 11 swans who yells at the neighbours when they give you judgey glares, that they’re the ones who’ll look stupid just as soon as your done knitting your collection of stinging nettle attire.
The Red Shoes
Cursed by a mysterious man – as punishment for wearing red shoes to church – Karen’s shoes are bound to her feet and force her into a tortuous loop of continual dancing. Wee bit harsh there. What about that time I wore whatever shoes I wanted on a Sunday and didn’t go to church for 25 years in a row? Section me out mysterious beard man – I look embarrassing when I dance too so it’d really hit me hard.
The Princess and the Pea
You can win a Prince’s heart by being very vocal about your extremely first world problems. It’s a pea get over it! If you’re having a rough nights sleep in a stranger’s bed cause you can feel something under their mattress, and in the end it just turns out to be a pea you’ve dodged a potentially awkward and gross bullet and you should be very very thankful.
Toads are bastards who will attempt to kidnap you in the dead of night and force you into an arranged marriage with their toad son.
Your shadow is such a prick. Just don’t trust that guy – he’s shady (GET IT!!!)
The Flying Trunk
Don’t ride in your enchanted flying trunk and let off fireworks! Drive sensibly, this is why we can’t have nice things!!!