Monday, October 01, 2012

Mermaids and Mermen

There are some things in folklore that I really wish were true and real; unicorns, talking lions, fairies and hobbits.  As a a child these creatures were my staple bedtime companions, and as I got older I became completely obsessed by Greek mythology, including the Sirens; their haunting voices luring sailors to their death and so began my love-affair with mermaids (although technically the Sirens are not mermaids);   I remember when I first read The Little Mermaid  by Hans Christian Anderson :

'Far out in the ocean the water is as blue as the petals of the loveliest cornflower, and as clear as the purest glass. But it is very deep too. It goes down deeper than any anchor rope will go, and many, many steeples would have to be stacked one on top of another to reach from the bottom to the surface of the sea. It is down there that the sea folk live.' 

My childhood delight and wonder about these 'seafolk' has never truly gone away. 

Over the years there have been a number of sightings of Mermaids - most notably in the Disney adaptation of The Little Mermaid, and of course Daryl Hannah in Splash.  In reality most mermaid sightings happen in areas of the country/world where there is a deep tradition of 'other-worldly' beings; Ireland, Cornwall and Scotland.  Cornwall, is a county deep in superstition, and boasts it's very own Mermaid of Zennor, who reputedly visits the local church and steals away locals.  It also lays claim to Mermaids Rock, Lamorna, upon which a beautiful mermaid is said to sit, combing her hair and luring the local fishermen to their deaths.

The realisation that Mermaids only ever existed in my books and my imagination, was more of a blow than finding out that Father Christmas was my Dad dressed up!  To this day, I'm still guilty of wistfully gazing out at sea, looking for the splash of a sea-green tail and the trail of long hair as the Mermaid makes her escape.

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