Sunday, October 1, 2017

Urban Grimoire: the And Then There Were None Incantation

I'm all of a tizzy. I'm watching Derren Brown and, as always happens, want him to marry me. Of course this may simply be the power of Derren Brown, but I think it could also be a reflection on the power of the large and small screen.
I have always loved the various film versions of Agatha Christie's novel, And Then There Were None. I first watched the 1940s version, and was then smitten by the wonderful Abbasi Hotel ( in the 1970s version, and finally encountered the wonderful Hugh O'Brian's magnificent chest rug in the 1960s version. I'm afraid the latest version does nothing for me, and neither does Aidan Turner.
This is the one of Mrs Christie's adventures which of course has had to have its title changed to reflect modern sensibilities about race. Its subjects are vengeance, innocence, trust, and deceit - of course these are reflected in most detective fiction, but my point here is that they are the sort of moral issues which exactly motivate magical people. In fact the nursery rhyme which gave the book its title has always struck me as being just made for an incantation, to be used in a spell of reducing or banishing something. A modern version of the rhyme is given here (Source):
Ten little Soldier Boys went out to dine;
One choked his little self and then there were nine.

Nine little Soldier Boys sat up very late;
One overslept himself and then there were eight.

Eight little Soldier Boys travelling in Devon;
One said he'd stay there and then there were seven.

Seven little Soldier Boys chopping up sticks;
One chopped himself in halves and then there were six.

Six little Soldier Boys playing with a hive;
A bumblebee stung one and then there were five.

Five little Soldier Boys going in for law;
One got in Chancery and then there were four.

Four little Soldier Boys going out to sea;
red herring swallowed one and then there were three.

Three little Soldier Boys walking in the zoo;
A big bear hugged one and then there were two.

Two little Soldier Boys sitting in the sun;
One got frizzled up and then there was one.[9]

One little Soldier Boy left all alone;
He went out and hanged himself and then there were none.
And the video below contains a tune used for it from the 1940s film, should you wish to in-cant your incantation:


  1. Aidan Turner does nothing for you?!? You'd better not let The Very Mistress and Ms Scarlet hear you say that!

    The "anything is better than the original title" rhyme has always struck me as being more akin to an incantation, or doll-less voodoo, too. I'm going to use it to see if I can get rid of the fruit flies that congregate near my bananas!

    1. I must confess to having never seen fruit flies till you mentioned them. I had to look them up and I'm more taken with the various means on trapping and killing them!


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