Russell Brand’s Trickster Tales – THE PIED PIPER OF HAMELIN
Published 9th November 2014, Canongate (ISBN: 9781782114567)
Coming off the 2015 UK general election last week, it is no difficult task to read The Pied Piper of Hamelin–the first of Russell Brand’s Trickster Tales–and connect all sorts of dot points. From the nasty Fat Bob who bares a passing resemblance to a chubby David Cameron (or possibly a thin Eric Pickles) to the suspiciously Big Ben-like town clock. Though perhaps I am reading my own interpretations into Chris Riddell’s brilliant illustrations. You’ll recognise them, if not from The Edge Chronicles with Paul Stewart, then from Neil Gaiman’s Graveyard Book and The Sleeper And The Spindle (review coming soon).
Brand sticks fairly faithfully to the Pied Piper story while embellishing it throughout with his own brand (no pun intended… well maybe a bit) of whimsy and freestyle madness. We are certainly treated to his unique way of mixing street talk with a bit of posh type vocab and some new age-y talk about spirituality and everything being all wonderful and connected et cetera, et cetera. If you want a taste of this political hippy pageantry then I recommend subscribing to The Trews, Brand’s YouTube channel. His politics are interesting (I won’t even go into the not voting debacle), his taking of politicians and Fox News to task is alway funny but the we-are-one-universal-being-of-rainbow-hearts-and-unicorns business is perhaps not for everyone.
We are introduced to the townsfolk of Hamelin. A horrid bunch who would not be out of place as housemates on Big Brother or any other reality program that aims to recruit the most horrid, despicable, narcissistic, shiny haired contestants. That is except for Sam, a boy born with a gammy leg and raised by a single mother who refused to send him off to the outskirts of town where the other not-quite-normal children are carted off to. The children of Hamelin, being the “wretched posse of snot sacks” that they are, ensure Sam is constantly tormented.
On the most important day in Hamelin’s calendar–the Most Gorgeous Child Pageant–the town is overrun by an anarcho-egalitarian rat collective who utterly confound the horrid nasty self-important townspeople with their machine-gun butt pellets and polygamy. Rioting chaos and flick-knife fights ensue.
Along then comes the Pied Piper who’s mind is beyond the ordinary realm of opposites and speaks in a voice that makes it difficult to tell if he is joking or not. It’s not too big of a step to imagine the Pied Piper is Russell Brand himself–with his almost messianic following raising him up as some kind of 21st century saviour of the poor and disaffected.
The Piper rids the town of rats, returns to collect payment and, just as in the original, is refused so he Pipes off and nicks their stinky bummed children. Sam is left behind not because of his gammy leg but because of his pure heart. Aww.
Russell Brand’s mission with The Trickster Tales is to change to way children think. Well, it’s certainly an ambitious and nigh on impossible project. While I don’t agree with all his world views he has certainly written a highly entertainment tale. I can’t wait to see what he does with the next one.