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|Jasper, who lives by my front door|
Or, of course, the truth: there's no such thing as dragons (beyond the world of story.)
|also by my front door|
I have a theory about dragons.
Let's go back in time... a long, long, way back. Early Stone-Age will do.
The place: the south coast of England between Lyme Regis and Charmouth (as they are called now)
|Lyme Regis Bay, Dorset|
When darkness falls the families who live in the little sheltered clefts of the valleys over-looking the sea, huddle in their huts for warmth and comfort, and get no sleep as the storm trumps in.
Pouring rain, as if the very heavens had turned into a waterfall. Thunder explodes with mighty crashes; lightning sears the skies. There comes an enormous noise as if the earth is being shattered in two. For over an hour the storm rages, until finally, at last, it rolls away, grumbling, into the distance.
The families remain inside, terrified, but come dawn pluck up courage to emerge into the daylight of a beautiful sunny day. Everything is sparkling with rain-drops, as if millions of little diamonds have been strewn around everywhere.
Tentatively the families head for the beach, looking for wood for the fire and crabs and muscles to eat.
Part of the cliff has been destroyed. Great boulders and stones lay strewn on the sand and a gash, as if something has gouged out the rock, slits through the cliff.
One of the women has wandered on ahead... suddenly she screams in terror!
There, in the sand is a monster - quite dead, its blackened body turned to stone, its eye-sockets hollow, its teeth and claws, once, as sharp as needles. It has a tail - and is three, four, five, times larger than any creature these people had ever seen.
How did it get there? How did it die?
That must have been the noise! Two great creatures fighting high above the earth. Only this one was burnt in the fires the other one breathed, destroying its wings and turning it to stone.
And thus, the story of dragons was born.
* * *
I am convinced that this is how dragons came to be. The people of long ago would never have understood about dinosaurs uncovered by a storm.
Why Lyme Regis and Charmouth on the Dorset Coast?
"This is where MaryAnning became known for important finds she made in Jurassic marine fossil beds in the cliffs. Her work contributed to fundamental changes in scientific thinking about prehistoric life and the history of the Earth. Mary Anning searched for fossils in the area's Blue Lias cliffs, particularly during the winter months when landslides exposed new fossils that had to be collected quickly before they were lost to the sea. It was dangerous work, and she nearly lost her life in 1833 during a landslide that killed her dog, Tray. Her discoveries included the first ichthyosaur skeleton correctly identified; the first two plesiosaur skeletons found; the first pterosaur skeleton located outside Germany; and important fish fossils. After her death in 1847, her unusual life story attracted increasing interest. Charles Dickens wrote of her in 1865 that
"[t]he carpenter's daughter has won a name for herself, and has deserved to win it." In 2010, one hundred and sixty-three years after her death, the Royal Society included Anning in a list of the ten British women who have most influenced the history of science."
* * *
I don't exactly collect dragons, but I do have a few favourite 'treasures':
* * *
Many years ago when my daughter was about five years old, she went through a spate of nightmares. To help her sleep I came up with a solution. I had a large red toy dragpn called Tolly. I set him down by her bedroom door and told her that Tolly would be on guard and would not allow any bad dreams to enter the room.
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