Over the furthest mountains to the west, past the highest cloud and over the deepest ocean, just past the Post Office and up the hill, there once stood the house of the most terrible of ogres, the King of Ogres, the Lord of Ogres.
His name was Fearsome Fred.
Fearsome Fred was so terrible, so ogre-ish, that when mummy and daddy ogres put their little ogre children to bed (Ogres generally don’t like people to know they have a nicer side, or their reputation would go right out the window and down the street screaming), they would tell them to misbehave or Fearsome Fred would come and sort them out. It was every ogres dream to be half the ogre Fearsome Fred was. He really was that bad.
Fearsome Fred lived in the most terribly red house you could imagine. Everything was red, bright red, traffic light on a clear night red. Windows painted red, walls, floors, ceilings, gardens full of red roses, those little fiddly bits where the underside of the roof sticks out that people are always coming round and asking to fix. All of it: red. Fearsome Fred didn’t really set out to make his house so red, but he got a job lot of red paint from a ghost down the street who did some scaring work a few years before, and red was all that was left.
When he saw the paint, Fearsome Fred shrugged his Scary Shoulders (He held the patent on Scary Shoulders and had done very well out of them selling them to wimpy Ogres), and got on with it.
One day, a man from the council came to Fearsome Fred’s door. “You can’t possibly paint it so red!” he said.
Fearsome Fred growled, and the man from the council fled.
Then a handsome knight came to his door, his silver and gold starred chainmail flashing. “I come to slay you for having such a vile house!” he said.
Fearsome Fred growled, and did something with the knight that doesn’t bear repeating. He was, after all, the most terrible of terrible ogres.
By now, the tale of his house had got out, and people from all around came to see. They gumpled through his garden and over his red grass, trumpled over his red roses and generally made a fuss and bother of themselves.
Fearsome Fred was furious, but when he roared at them, they raised their cameras and took pictures. When he showed them what he did to the knight with the flashing armour, they ooohed and ahhhed and took even more pictures. Fearsome Fred, the most terrible, the most awful ogre, hid and sulked inside his red house and fumed.
Then the beautiful Princess Pringle showed up, a fiery maiden of red hair and a redder dress. Prince Pringle was going to come, but he had an invite to the wedding of someone called Kate and Will, and before that had the Dramatic Dragon of Dartmoor to dispatch, so he was pretty tied up.
Fearsome Fred thought Princess Pringle was like the others at first. She knocked on his door like all the others, so he ignored her and made himself some red tea from his red teapot, and poured it into a red cup. Then she knocked on his kitchen window. This was really too much for Fearsome Fred, who stormed outside and gnashed his teeth at her.
The Princess stood her ground. “Like what is your problem, chick? What’s with the gnashing?”
Fearsome Fred was taken aback. This was new. Most people just fell to their knees and waited for death. Or took pictures.
He tried snorgling. Snorgling is a noise most people never hear, since it’s the sound of an ogre swallowing. Usually, you’d be the one being swallowed, which is why most people never hear it.
“Snorgle? Hang on, let me Google that.” The Princess pulled out a red phone and her fingers danced over it. Fearsome Fred was rapidly turning into Puzzled Fred, which didn’t sound right to him. Puzzled Pete already had the exclusive rights, you see.
The Princess had finished doing whatever she was doing with her phone. “So what’s the prob babe?”
Fearsome Fred waved a hand at the crowd, and the wind from the gesture knocked several of them over. “These…these…people.” He lowered his voice to a mere Greek God volume. “They keep bothering me. I wouldn’t really mind, but they trumple on my roses. I love those roses. Took me years to get them the same colour as the house.”
“Oh…that’s terrible. I do like a nice red as well. Such a pretty colour house.”
Fearsome Fred was astounded. “The man from the council didn’t think so.”
The Princess waved a hand. “Feh. Men, what do they know? Let me see what I can do.”
She turned to the crowd. She tried yelling, but they ignored her. She climbed on Fearsome Fred’s Scary Shoulders™ and tried shouting up there, but they still ignored her.
She climbed down and scratched a beautiful cheek with a beautiful finger, the nail a beautiful scarlet. Finally she turned to Fearsome Fred and said: “Right, here’s the plan…”
The next morning, the crowds gathered at the bottom of Fearsome Fred’s hill. They gasped in amazement. A huge wall had gone up around his house overnight, bright red. At the single gate, the Princess stood, dressed in red, charging admission, while Fearsome Fred sold red T-Shirts and red mugs from a red concession stand. The Princess was so charming and beautiful, the people paid without a thought, and they were so terrified of Fearsome Fred, they paid for the red T-Shirts and red mugs without a complaint.
It was such a roaring success, The Princess and Fearsome Fred started giving tours of the red house, so they moved into the Post Office down the hill and painted that red as well.
And you know what? The roses outside matched it perfectly.