Dewi the Dragon
Christie Davies Other books by Christie Davies
This is the definitive book for anyone who thinks about dragons. Dewi the red dragon and his Chinese dragon wife have four young dragons, who eat ginger or anthracite or both. A good adventure story for all ages.
£4.95 Out of print
"Talk about traditional values in a modern setting. This is the story of how a dragon, Dewi, would cope with life in contemporary Wales. Despite being the Welsh symbol there is something particularly incongruous about a dragon popping up in such a context. Somehow if it turned out that they did exist after all one would expect a sighting in the Burmese jungle or somewhere similarly exotic. But this is explained: In nature imaginary animals spring into existence spontaneously, but only when a number of people think about them intensely at the same time. That is why there are dragons in Wales and China but not in Chad or Tasmania.
This is a children's story on one level but with plenty of jokes woven in to keeps grown ups amused. That is the formula that has worked so well for The Simpsons and doubtless Christie, a world expert on humour and fellow Social Affairs Unit contributor, would be content if it achieves a similar following. It would have helped it along to have had more illustrations - there is one on the cover but that's it.
One day Dewi wasn't feeling very well - as everyone knows a happy dragon puffs out steam not smoke. Given that dragons don't really exist it is touching that Davies shows such sympathy for them and attention to detail. For instance a later passage records:
Released from their fireproof basket, Dewi, Mei Kamlung and the little dragons flew to the chimney and nestled among the chimney pots. For a dragon, happiness is the outside of a warm chimney. Dewi was taken to see Evans the vet in Swansea. There was no school that day so his owner Mair took him off in his: special fire-proof basket and caught the bus into Swansea, taking care not to sit near the fuel tank, in case Dewi should sneeze.
Davies has a vivid turn of phrase, for instance when Dewi sees the doctor we find the doctor: frowning more and more until his forehead resembles the top of a tube of toothpaste. It turns out that Dewi is love sick. But where is a female dragon to be found?
Dewi was discovered down a coal mine. Mair laments:
We can't go back and look for another one because they closed the mine down three years ago, due to subsidy or subsidence - something like that.
Mair is worried that a Chinese restaurant called The Short Portly Dragon might serve dragons for people to eat. She is reassured: Goodness me no... Dragons are much too revered in China. Besides it would be contrary to the Protection of Imaginary Species clause in the Local Government Miscellaneous Provisions Act of 1986.
Mair is not entirely reassured. She thinks: miscellaneous provisions sounded too much like food. Part of the technique of his book is that while dragons may dominate proceedings the humans are eminently believable. There are the types that we have all come across, the fretting mother, the nervous child, the kindly but rarefied expert. There is a fascination with language and a determination to prick the pomposity of official jargon. There are plenty of delightfully absurd yet horribly plausible jobs people have. For
instance there is the archaeologist who: did his doctorate in dangerous imaginary archaeology at the University of Appenzoller and wrote his thesis on the little people who guard the raths in Ireland and slay anyone who disturbs a single bit of the old sod. Now he's in industrial accident archaeology, working with a grant from a firm of American lawyers, trying to work out what poisoned the hammermen working in Port Rewyn in 1873. Most dangerous job he's ever done. Their descendants will want compensation and the company is frightened. This is not a political book but occasionally the odd passage betrays Davies's ideological leanings:
Toby enjoyed all the privileges of the seriously weird. He was indulged in his nonsense lest he turn to something worse.
Another strength is that Davies has a keen imagination. Here is an intriguing passage about dog breeding. Mrs Evans and her husband Willis: bred guard dogs that they sold to banks and scrap-metal dealers. They had recently been awarded a first-prize for breeding a Doberman that would only bite people with criminal records, and a silver medal for their Wursthund, a sausage dog dachshund that would slide down a tunnel after a vault robber. Now they were working on a Beulah speckled face sheep dog that could recognise rustlers in a white van by smell. On another occasion a policeman visits to report a serious allegation: Your dragon wilfully and deliberately sat down on the main road between Swansea and Llanelli, with his mouth open, pretending to be an underpass leading to the M4. Owing to severe drizzle, the bus driver failed to notice the difference and drove straight into his mouth and down the oesophagus or gullet as it is more commonly known, thus forfeiting the lives of some twenty-seven persons, including that of the new Bishop of Llanelli.
Like all good children's stories Dewi the Dragon deals in moral certainty - heroes and villains, good versus evil. The triumphs are chronicled with a sense of history. Professor Russell says: A most interesting scientific experience. I feel a monograph coming on: Who will guard the guard dogs: an account of how the dragons defeated the monsters.
" - Harry Phibbs, The Social Affairs Unit