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  • Philip Bryer

Lord of the Spoilers

Yes, this piece contains Lord of the Rings spoilers.

Returning home across the fields with Ziggy, the Old English Sheepdog, I come across a gnarly old bit of wood. About 8-10 feet long and with curves in all the right places. I dragged it behind me for a mile or so. Make a nice bit of firewood, that, said the ghost of my old man.

On entering the village, I snapped the lead back onto Ziggy’s collar, and hoisted up the wood. I tapped it thrice on the ground and strode onward with it held like staff. Just like Gandalf.


When we reached the house, I saw the family in the kitchen, busily making preparations for lunch. I tapped on the window and raised my staff in greeting. Can you believe this moment of high drama on an otherwise humdrum Sunday was met not with a rousing cheer, but with a mass rolling of the eyes?

Gandalf, eh? Well, that reminds me.

At 17 or so, my best pal Tim and I would spend a great deal of time sitting in the park, smoking into the small hours, and mostly talking about the mysteries of the Universe, but tonight, step forward, Lord of the Rings. Tim wasn’t a great reader at that time, but he was engrossed in Tolkein’s tale.

One evening, I said, “You know, it’s like the bit where Gandalf dies.”

There was silence. Then a strangled sort of choking sound. I checked to see whether Tim had swallowed a roach. He hadn’t, but he had seemingly swallowed something hard and jagged.

“Gandalf’s dead?”

“Well, yeah.”

“Gandalf’s dead?”


“Why did you tell me?”

“Hang on, you’ve been reading it for months, you must have got to that bit by now?”

“Well, no. I just read a page when I go to bed at night, so it’s taken a while. And if I’ve had a few drinks, I’ll have to read the same page again the following night.”

“Slow going, then.”

“Yeah. What did you tell me for?”

“Sorry, but listen, it’s OK, because he comes back.”

“You told me he was dead.”

“Yeah, but he’s not really. Like I said, he comes back.”



“Yeah, you know, how?”

“I dunno. He’s a wizard.”

“When’s he back, then?”

“Oh, book 2, or is it 3? Anyway, you’ve got ages to go yet.”

“Great. Cheers for that.”

Amazingly, we’re still friends.

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