Wednesday, April 07, 2010

Cuddly Dragons and real Vikings

'Which brings us back to How to Train Your Dragon. My daughter would have liked it less, but a refreshing and more realistic ending would have had the Vikings enlisting their new, fire-breathing pets in a massive invasion of Europe, laying waste to all they saw and bringing the hated Christians to heel. Because that’s really what Vikings do.'

This didn't evoke any great insight in me, but it did remind me of a conversation I had in an auberge-de-jeunesse in Normandy back in the early '90s with a very nice woman from Denmark. When she found out I grew up in Lincolnshire, she got very excited, and went off on a spiel about how much Danish influence there was in my home county. I didn't interrupt her, and thought it rude to mention that not only do we English not consider the Danish influence positively, we don't consider it Danish.

To us, the word Viking still has a frisson of hatred and fear. And whatever contributions they may have made to the English language, law and governance, they are remembered by common English folk as murderous thieving villains without mercy and without religion.

But the lady was nice, and I didn't want to spoil supper!

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