Those of you who've seen me perform as a comedian know that I often use the name of the Scottish Border town of Ecclefechan in place of a well-known swear word (and also that I'm quite happy with using the swear word in question when required). Warning: that word will be included in this article.
We watched a wonderful/rubbish heroes-and-villains movie the other night, called Hercules,starring Dwayne 'the Rock' Johnson -- and one scene in it has been a complete inspiration to me.
You'll need a quick précis of plot here (warning: spoiler alert) ... Hercules and his companions have been hired as mercenaries to fight for the King of Thrace against a cruel barbarian and his hoardes who are laying waste to the land and destroying people and villages. This hoarde is legendary for being led by centaurs -- those huge half-horse half-human beings. These centaurs are pretty much invincible; incredibly powerful, magical and, in this film, utterly mean.
Hercules and his trained infantry army prepare to battle the centaurs with courage (which doesn't at all mean absence of fear - indeed one of them has seen in an oracle that he will die in this battle). Then, when the centaurs appear on top of the hill, Hercules gives a speech about standing up for the good and the right. The centaurs begin to gallop down the hill ... and it becomes clear that they are not centaurs at all but men on horseback. The barbarians have cast a spell on their enemy so that they are seen to be all-powerful when they are not.
Hercules responds by catching the leader's horse and throwing it over his head (quite the superhero, centaur or not!). The 'baddies' are vanquished and their leader, who has miraculously survived having his horse thrown on top of him, is taken prisoner and humiliated by the King of Thrace.
Only then do Hercules and his band realise that they've been fooled. The King of Thrace is the baddie and the rebel leader on the horse is a freedom fighter. It has all been smoke and mirrors.
It all works out okay in the end...
But the one line that totally inspired me is this one. When Hercules has won the battle he says, 'Fucking centaurs!'
It is the only swear word in the movie and it is totally out of character for Hercules. It stops you in its tracks. And I think it is meant to do just that.
There is so much in this line! Even more when the movie finally denoues and we realise that what appears to be bad is good and what appears to be good is bad.
What if we said, 'fucking centaurs!' to the situations in our lives that appear to be so horrid?What if just doing that would take all the power away from them? What if they turned out to be blessings in disguise but we are weighed down with fear that we are being attacked by powerful magical forces? What if we just have an 'ordinary' battle ahead of us rather than being outwitted and out-played by malign cosmic forces?
There are no centaurs. They are myths. There is no centaur in Brexit. There is no centaur in the White House. Your ex-husband or wife is not a centaur. Your boss isn't one either. It's all a game of fear.
Which is why I've included this wonderful 13th century picture from the British Library of the Virgin Mary punching the devil in the face.
We got this! We can do this. We can simply use our own strength and we can win through with that strength and steadfastnes. It's all going to be okay.
Oh ... and the guy whom the oracle predicted would die in the battle...? He lives.