One of the good things about Christmas is the chance to pop back to the Baronial homeland of both the Stonell and Walker families and kill the fatted calf, so to speak (sorry, but 'the fatted carrot' or 'fatted textured vegetable protein' just doesn't have the same ring, even though that's what I did). All this got me thinking... (queue the thinking music and fade the screen in a wobbly effect....)
|The Prodigal Returns (1862) Jane Benham Hay|
|The Prodigal's Return John Byam Liston Shaw|
|The Prodigal Son in Modern Life : The Departure (1880) James Tissot|
Did you know that 'Prodigal' meant 'wasteful'? I thought it meant someone who returned, because I did not have a proper education. Anyway, we have two brothers, one of whom stays at home and works with his father like a good chap, and the other who asks for his share of the estate and goes off, spending it frivolously on loose women and fast donkeys. When all the money is gone he is forced to work as a swineherder and realises he has been a fool and goes home in disgrace. His father welcomes him home, recognising his repentence and a party commences. Of this story, three parts are usually shown - the departure, the swineherding and the return. Isn't it funny that you very rarely get the fun bit in the middle shown?
|The Prodigal Son in Modern Life : In Foreign Climes James Tissot|
What the Victorians really liked was the middle scene, after all the money and good time girls were gone, when that naughty son was forced to sit around in a field, suffering from what Mr Walker refers to as 'porcine despair', often semi-naked so we can really see how sorry he is...
|Oh, I'm a bit sorry now... John Macellan Swan|
|I'm sorry with an implausible moustache (1891) Wilfred Thompson|
|I'm sorry, but I'm still pretty (1872) G F Watts|
|I'm so sorry I appear to be wearing the nappy of shame Pierre Puvis de Chavannes|
|Look how dreamily sorry I am, ladies...(1883) Auguste Rousellin|
|The Return (1857) Simeon Solomon|
|And another return... James Tissot|
|The Prodigal Daughter John Collier|
|The Outcast (1851) Richard Redgrave|
|The Prodigal's Return Ellen Clacy|
Well, I hope this is a lesson for you all. Straying will do you no good whatsoever, even though you'll get welcomed back and given a party. Staying home is far better, even though it doesn't seem to be appreciated and you'll miss out on all the whoring and donkey racing. Hang on, what was my point? Oh yes, the smell of pig is a devil to get out, so it really isn't worth it. Honest.
I'm just popping out for a bit...