Recently I have been reading a lot of fantasy books and playing Skyrim as my research for writing my next book, which is going to be mostly a fantasy book. I thought I had read enough over the years to have a bash at it.

Along the way, while I was writing I was listening to the Queen album Queen II on iTunes and thinking that it would be great if I could write a book that conjured up some of the feelings that the songs on the album did.

One track in particular seemed to allude either to the Nutcracker or A Midsummer Night’s Dream – namely ‘The Fairy Feller’s Master Stroke’ – obviously there’s some punnage available given Freddie Mercury’s sexuality, but Roger Taylor insists that no pun was intended.

So I read the Oxford Shakespeare publication of A Midsummer Night’s Dream to find out what the story was about. I never read it at school and while I have a vague recollection of reading through my dad’s copy of the Complete Works when I was in my teens, I either didn’t understand it or just plain forgot about it (the former is probably the case). While it was quite amusing and the reader notes really interesting I was kind of disappointed that it had little to do with the Queen song.

After reading the play, I subsequently revisited Neil Gaiman’s Sandman graphic novel Dream Country which features A Midsummer Night’s Dream. Strangely enough second time around it made a lot more sense.

Here’s some more info:

So I moved on to have a look at what The Nutcracker is all about. Wikipedia once again helping me out. having read the synopsis I once again realised that it had little to do with the Queen song. I also recalled having seen the ballet on television one Christmas when I was about ten and being thoroughly bored by the whole thing.

Anyway, in act of desperation I did a search for ‘The Fairy Feller’s Master Stroke’ in Wikipedia and low and behold, it turns out that it’s a painting:’s_Master-Stroke

So, Freddie Mercury was so taken with the picture (and I guess the poem that goes with it) that he penned the song.

It reminded me a bit of the song ‘Full Fathom 5’ by The Stone Roses, which is the name of a Jackson Pollock painting, and on closer inspection (Wikipedia again!) I found that “full fathom five” are the opening words of a song sung by Ariel in Shakespeare’s The Tempest. Funny how these things seem inter-connected.

‘The Fairy Feller’s Master Stroke’ is supposedly on display in the Tate Britain. I’ve been there a few times and have probably seen the painting at some point and not given it a second glance.

Next time I’m in London I will go and have another gander.

Funnily enough I went to a Pollock exhibition there once upon a time and saw not only Full Fathom Five but also a version (if not the original) No. 5 which gets a mention in another Stone Roses song.

He’s not everyone’s cup of tea, but I went because I liked the Roses so much – I will always regret passing up the chance to go and see them live in Manchester when I was in school and a girl I knew offered me a ticket. At the time I had not heard of them and thought they were some kind of acid house band and didn’t want to go. As it turns out they are plop live, but at least I could’ve said I was there…