7th July 2021
Once upon a time my blog had a different name, and that name was Jack of Kent.
This was somewhat odd, as my name is not Jack and I am not from Kent (though I lived there at the time).
But in those days to give your blog a name was then a fashionable thing to do, like it once was to give yourself a calling name when CB radio was popular.
The Jack of Kent after whom the blog was named is a figure in the folklore of Wales and the west midlands counties.
You can read about the chap here.
In essence: he was was a figure who outwitted the devil by having careful regard to the actual wording of texts.
And so it seemed a good name for a legal blog.
Jack of Kent in turn was part of the folk tradition – and certainly not only in England and Wales – of stories about people caught in diabolical deals.
The unfortunate bargain is a staple of folklores and legends – with those entering into the bargains either suffering or, as in the case of Jack of Kent, irking the devil by holding the devil to its exact terms.
Their trickery is, of course, general – and it is not limited to reneging on obligations.
But what is uncommon – at least to my knowledge – is a story when it is the trickster who unwittingly has got himself or herself into a bad bargain.
Frankly: it is usually the trickster – in devil form – who is the one enticing a gullible or ambitious victim into a deal.
So there may be little guidance in folklore for what would happen when it is the trickster themselves seeking to get out of the deal.
But now we have a real-life example, to make good the possible paucity of folklore versions.
We have the unfolding story of the trickster Boris Johnson and the Brexit agreement.
Of course, Johnson did not realise what he was getting into.
Fo him, a deal – ‘oven-ready’, as he boasted – was the casual tool for other trickery.
Tricks he played on the Conservative MPs whose votes he needed and on the Democratic Unionists, whose voted he realised he did not.
And a trick he played to gain an overall majority in December 2019, with his solemn promise to get Brexit done.
Any problems about this deal were then safely in the future.
But those problems are here now – and they cannot be escaped with his usual bluster and evasions.
An international agreement was signed, and mere trickery will not get him out of it.
A Loki may be able to change their nature – at least according to current retellings – but it is doubtful that a Boris Johnson can.
The best scenario is that the trickster fails and is seen to fail – and the story of Brexit can become in part an uplifting morality story about the futility of facile politics.
But there are other possibilities: that the trickster responds with ever-greater tricks – more diversions and misdirections, more lies – creating something that lends itself to a tragedy, or an epic – and not to a mere quaint folklore tale.
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