12 Nov


SHEPHERDS photo: Shepherds shepherds_3_zpsdf0eca59.png  The night was dark like nights used to be before the invention of electric light. There was a fire, hardly blazing because of the need to conserve what free fuel was available. Three shepherds were idling round the embers, two of them dosing off whilst the third, a strange bearded fellow with terrifying biceps and clad in a bright blue cloak, sort of kept watch whilst holding his nose.

I say “sort of” because that’s what he was doing, though a sharp enough observer might have noted the aura about him that almost certainly warded off any wild creature in need of a feast on mutton, even though the nose-holding was on account of the fragrance of sweaty feet in the air, a pong which might have been effective on its own.

“Hey, you fellows!” he almost shouted, revealing a pronounced Scandinavian accent which most folks in that neck of the woods found endearing.

“You what?” asked one, opening both eyes.

“Whaa…?” asked the second, opening one of his.

“I have seen a wonderful sight,” began the blue cowled Shepherd.

“What sight?” blurred the first shepherd, rubbing his eyes.

“You should have been awake,” chided the bearded Odin. “Only those who are wide awake and fully alert will get to see the marvels that accompany us through life…”

“I’ve been up since the crack of dawn…” complained the shepherd, and his companion opened his second eye.

“What was that about Dawn’s crack?” he mumbled.

“You’re smutty,” complained Odin. “And this is no occasion for smut. I have seen a wonderful sight and exchanged magical words with a spectacular creation…”

“Dreaming again,” sighed the first shepherd, “and to think you’re supposed to be on guard! It’s not good enough! Who are you, anyway? And where did you come from? I don’t know you!”

“Yet you’re putting your faith and trust into the arms of a stranger?” smiled Odin. “I’ve told you. Like you, I tend my sheep and like you I need to keep an eye out for such outrages as the greed of Mr. Wolf!” explained Odin wearily, as if he was fed up with explaining his presence – which was a bit of a cheek considering he’d only met them that day.
“So what is this marvel you woke us to tell us all about?” grumbled the second shepherd.

“We have had a visitor,” began Odin, grandly.

“What? A visitor here? Was it a savage beast from the wild? Did it harangue the sheep? Has it made up with half my flock?” shouted the other shepherd.

“Not that kind of visitor!” murmured Odin, as if weary of simple mindedness. “It was an angel from Heaven,” he added, grandly.

“An angel, you say? Like in the ancient scriptures? A fully rounded winged and glorious angel from Heaven?” demanded the second shepherd.

“The very same. And he came to say there’s been a baby born, a special baby in the town, in a cattle-shed on account of the prejudice of the Innkeeper against just about everyone. But that baby’s special. Bloody special. Look, can you see that star?” He pointed into the skies, which were generally pitch black but clear and filled with innumerable stars.

“Which one?” asked the first shepherd.

“There are millions,” complained the second.

“That one,” pointed Odin. “The angel said that star would show the way to the new born baby.”

“What’s a baby got to do with me?” muttered the first shepherd. “My old lady’s past it, and so am I! I’ve not sired any baby for half a lifetime.”

“Nor me,” added his companion. “My kids are grown up too, done their breeding and don’t want any more – and anyway, their womenfolk wouldn’t drop their progeny in somewhere as basic as a cattle shed!”

“The angel said he was from Heaven, on one of God’s missions because that baby, that very same little scrap of life, is the son of God, and we must go and bear gifts and welcome the Lord into the world.”

“What a load of old balls!” muttered the first shepherd.

“Now I’ve heard everything,” giggled the second.

“Okay. I’ll level with you,” sighed Odin. “You’ve heard of the chaos theory, I expect?”

“That old stuff. Butterflies causing mighty storms, that sort of thing?” asked the first. “I did that as infants school. Know it off by heart.”

“Well, you might understand my problem, then” sighed Odin. “I tell you what: while you’re washing your socks I’ll tell you a story of years that are yet to come.”

“Who says I’m going to wash my socks?” asked the first shepherd.

“Me, because they stink!” snapped Odin. “Now pay attention. The Roman empire is due to run its course in a few centuries, and in its wake there will be the confusion of a vacuum left by a shortage of Caesars.”

“Bloody Caesars,” growled the second shepherd.

“Anyway, it’s my job to rescue the future,” murmured Odin. “And I feel use of chaos might cut short a different kind of chaos and make things all right. Are you with me, brethren?”

“You mean, you want people to believe that baby is the son of God and will, in due course, perform miracles and the like? Asked the first shepherd. “If that’s the case, count me in! I’ve got a pair of socks I’ve just about finished washing. What say I give them as a gift?”

Odin groaned. “I thought a lamb might be more appropriate … but still…” he sighed.

“They are woollen socks, you know,” muttered the giver of gifts.

© Peter Rogerson 12.11.14



  1. pambrittain November 15, 2014 at 6:20 pm #

    Well, I’ve heard of items that smell lovely as being given as a gift.

    • Peter Rogerson November 19, 2014 at 3:32 pm #

      But dirty old socks? Maybe it was a different age, Pam

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