Once upon a time…

Once upon a time, in a land far, far away there lived a beautiful princess with a fondness for good grammar, and an unsuitable prince who was devilishly good at scrabble.

One day the unsuitable prince told the princess he was in love with her. He seemed rather perplexed though, so while he had a little think about it he put the princess in a well for safekeeping.

The well was very deep and dark and the princess was rather shocked. She was in love with the unsuitable prince too, but hadn’t been expecting him to feel the same, and she certainly hadn’t been expecting the well. The princess lived quietly in the well for a while. There wasn’t much to eat, but suddenly she wasn’t very hungry, and managed quite well on a diet of wine and the occasional Babybel. Sometimes she thought about escaping, but the light at the top of the well seemed so far away, and the walls were slippery and difficult to climb.

Sometimes the unsuitable prince came to look at the princess, and when his face appeared silhouetted at the top of the well the princess would feel briefly elated, and imagine he was going to climb in and carry her out. Sometimes he would call down to her. “You know I love you don’t you?”

“Yes,” the princess would reply, but she wasn’t really sure.

Sometimes the princess would shout back up the well at him, but by the time her voice got to the top of the well it sounded rather small and pathetic. “Why have you put me here? I want to get out. I’m scared!”

“Don’t worry,” the prince would say, “being in love is supposed to be scary.” And then he would go away again and the princess would find herself doubled over and breathless, as though someone had kicked her hard in the stomach.

One day the unsuitable prince leaned right into the well. ‘Princess,” he said ‘”what am I going to do with you? You are such a fickle girl.”

The princess wasn’t sure what to say.

“If I let you out, how will I know for sure that you will stay near me and not ever run away?”

“You won’t,” answered the princess truthfully.

The unsuitable prince considered this, and then, deciding it wasn’t worth the risk, he put the lid on the well and walked away.

Well the princess was rather miffed about this, and wondered why the prince had bothered to put her in the well in the first place. For some time she wailed and banged her fists on the walls of the well, hoping the prince would hear her and come back.

Eventually she remembered she’d had her phone with her the whole time, and she called some friends, who brought ropes and ladders and sandwiches and words of comfort, and helped her to get out of the well and readjust to the brightness. She looked around for the prince, but he was gone, and sometimes she had to stop herself jumping back into the dark.

Mostly the princess tries not to think about the prince any more. But sometimes, if she has a lunch date with someone new the next day for instance, she thinks about being in the well and wonders if maybe the prince was right, if she is just a fickle girl, and if there will be someone one day who thinks it’s worth the risk.



  1. 1 July, 2010 / 9:13 pm

    Just brilliant. I think there are others who also wonder if someone will one day think they are worth the risk. ( I could have worded that better but it’s late).

  2. Your Sister
    1 July, 2010 / 9:57 pm

    Lets not forget the prince resembled the EVIL DARK LORD.

    He was wrong, the princess is always right and never ever needs to return to that well again. In fact, I’ve blocked it up and surrounded it with a ring of suitable princes.


  3. 1 July, 2010 / 10:00 pm

    Dammit, I am never going anywhere near another slimy well. Am too busy skipping in the sunshine :-)

  4. scribblingmum
    1 July, 2010 / 10:11 pm

    I am going to make my sister read this as she was in a well too once. Her Prince was no Prince but actually a scum bag. I absolutely loved this, I wondered where you were going with it but it’s so simple, innocent yet dark too, brilliant Jo.

  5. Vicky
    1 July, 2010 / 11:01 pm

    Oh sweetie, you are not a fickle girl and you are most certainly worth the risk. And, you are never going back in the well if I have anything to do with it. xxx

  6. Lauren
    1 July, 2010 / 11:40 pm

    We are ALWAYS worth the risk, it’s finding the suitable prince who realises this that is the tricky bit!

  7. nepe
    1 July, 2010 / 11:45 pm

    Gosh have I been in that well! The darkness stays with you for sometime.

    The right man stops you questioning being out in the light… infact he makes the light around you even brighter.

    (In my very humble and new experience!!)

    Go for your date, have no expectations, enjoy it for whatever it may be, do not be hard on yourselve if you want to go back to the well… the more you are out of the well the easier it get :-)

    Hark at me life coach after a 2 month relationship!!

  8. 2 July, 2010 / 10:38 am

    I am so lucky that my prince knew i was worth the risk. So much so he had to hang around for 11 years before little miss fickle here realised it! x

  9. lavenderjack
    2 July, 2010 / 10:44 am

    Lovely story, well done for climbing out and enjoy the sunshine. My prince waited for nine years so there are some good ones out there amongst the dross!

  10. Beth
    2 July, 2010 / 5:51 pm

    Oh my goodness, this is the first time I’ve actually made a comment even though I’ve read your blog for a while but I just had to say how much that story makes me realise how much of a fool I have been very recently. You were obviously very brave to climb out. I honestly don’t think I can convey how much this post has made me take stock of the position I’ve put myself in. Thank-you.

  11. 2 July, 2010 / 7:20 pm

    Thank you EVERYONE for all your lovely comments. It’s been a post I’ve been thinking about for a while, and it means a lot to me, so I’m glad you all enjoyed it.

    I’m very impressed with Alison and Lavenderjack’s princes, hanging around all those years!

    And Beth – you have not been a fool. It’s the well, it does that to you – it steals all rational thought from normally very sensible women. You CAN climb out and don’t be afraid to ask people for the much needed rope and sandwiches. x x x x

    • Beth
      3 July, 2010 / 3:42 pm

      I think maybe some princes are very similar…I started to be rational only to be called irrational and letting my emotions get the better of me. Something stinks. I don’t know how you found the courage to pick yourself up. I spoke to my sister about this though and she has apparently been telling me the same for months. Funny how you only hear what you want to hear!

      • nepe
        4 July, 2010 / 12:32 am

        Could I have new set of ropes and sandwiches please… I’ve just been dumped :-(

        That said… I aint back in that well! Not completely, just danging over the side! Lets face it once you’ve climbed out it takes more than a little knock to send you back in completely… and there is always rope and sandwiches from your mates x

        • 5 July, 2010 / 9:45 am

          I reckon once you’ve been in once you keep a rope permenantly round your waist just in case…

          Hang on in there! x x x

      • 5 July, 2010 / 9:50 am

        That is the worst thing isn’t it? When someone you love tells you you are unreasonable you start to believe them, even though deep down it doesn’t feel quite true. It’s amazing how much someone can make you question yourself though, and how blind you become to it when you are living in the middle of it. To be honest, I have to thank my ‘prince’ for shutting the lid – he did the right thing there at least. (See how I defend him still??). I’m not sure if I would have been brave enough to do it myself.

  12. scribblingmum
    2 July, 2010 / 8:27 pm

    Look, I came back again to read this, haven’t been able to stop thinking about it! My sister reckons you lead parallel lives.

  13. 2 July, 2010 / 8:34 pm

    Just brilliant writing, Jo – I glanced at this in my Reader earlier and didn’t have time to finish it so marked it to read later – then noticed it being tweeted all over the place tonight. It really is fab and heartbreaking and joyous all at the same time.

    Also PMSL at comment #1 (from a male perspective) ;)

  14. 3 July, 2010 / 2:39 pm

    Aw hun, I am going to show this to my teen daughter its so well (no pun intended) written, i think it should be part of the school curriculum for girls. We have all had one of the *prince’s* , just be nice if our daughters didn’t have to fall down the well too ;D

    • 5 July, 2010 / 9:51 am

      I love that idea! Let’s make it a set text for GCSE!

  15. 3 July, 2010 / 2:46 pm

    No you are not fickle just that prince was all wrong for you. Yes of course someone will think you are worth the risk!! fingers crossed. I would say be open minded about what you are looking for. You may have a twenty bullet point list of what you are looking for in a prince but that may be all wrong and the one you end up with may not have all those qualities
    good luck

    • 5 July, 2010 / 9:51 am

      *screws up the ‘first date questionnaire’ I was thinking of handing out*

  16. 3 July, 2010 / 8:02 pm

    Thanks for the good read! x

  17. 4 July, 2010 / 10:09 am

    wow-need to email you.

  18. 4 July, 2010 / 10:40 pm

    Wow-just read this. So amazing how everyone knows exactly what you’re talking about (apart from ‘steve’!)
    And I agree with icklebabe – this should be on the school curriculum!

    • 5 July, 2010 / 9:44 am

      You have to laugh at Steve don’t you? Bless him. I was a bit worried when that was the first comment – I wondered if I had misjudged it completely, so I was glad to see other people understood!

      • 6 July, 2010 / 10:56 pm

        I read this and was like OMG she’s talking about my life-and then realised that that’s what everyone else thought too! So brave of you but CLEARLY understood by many. (‘Steve’ – it must be a girl thing!)

        • 7 July, 2010 / 6:39 am

          LOL, poor old Steve! I definitely seem to have touched a nerve. I’m thinking about turning it into a play and touring schools :-)

      • 25 September, 2010 / 1:00 pm

        i’ve reread this again having (being honest here) had no idea what you were on about the first time, though it stuck in my head for some reason. This time it smacked me straight between the eyes. I suppose a little history would have helped me to understand. But obviously i have a total lack of incite, and hidden shallows.
        A beautiful post Jo. I’m glad all the others got it the first time.


        • 27 September, 2010 / 12:56 pm

          Ahh! Thank you! It stuck with you at least, even if it did come across as gibberish :-)

  19. 5 July, 2010 / 7:03 pm

    This is just simply fabulous, if you need help with not going back in the darkness try looking at some alternative stuff like reiki, or energy and faith healing. It’s worked wonders for me who had lost faith in life let alone myself after losing my dad, who died the day after my wedding suddenly and then to nearly lose my step son last year, who was air ambulanced out to Gran Canaria with 12 hours to hope the antibiotics worked. It takes time to put the pieces back together and you don’t realise how easy it is to slip into the darkness, or why you feel like that. A prince will definitely think you’re worth it, if you do feel it for yourself – lol xx Definitely for the school curiculum, i have saved this for when my twin girls get bigger.

    • 7 July, 2010 / 6:19 am

      Wow, sounds like you have had some pretty horrendous times to deal with.

      When I’m feeling too overwhelmed I do quite often go and spend the day in Glastonbury (not far from me) and just wander around absorbing all the soothing vibes and looking at crystals! It seems to help, but then I’ve always liked a day out :-)

  20. 5 July, 2010 / 7:04 pm

    btw, some of the alternative stuff is a little too much to stomach at first and too off with the fairies but you can take from it what you wantx

  21. Nicky Richards
    7 July, 2010 / 10:42 am

    I loved this and all of the amazing comments.
    From your very old friend, you are very much worth the risk but so many men are too silly to see that. The right one will be worth the wait and heartache.
    So glad that you are able to write now and do something that you enjoy and so obviously touch other people’s lives.
    Love you lots.

  22. 7 July, 2010 / 9:21 pm

    scribbling mum sent me to this post….”You know I love you don’t you” It’s frightening how much we can be convinced by those words for so long. I’m pleased you escaped from that well. X

    • 8 July, 2010 / 7:54 pm

      You are so right – why is it we get so taken in by someone’s behaviour just because they say they love us??

  23. 9 July, 2010 / 6:48 pm

    Fan bloody tastic. Wow do I know how the Princess feels!

    • 9 July, 2010 / 9:11 pm

      Glad you enjoyed it! Sounds like we’ve all had our fair share of ‘princes’…

  24. 9 July, 2010 / 8:01 pm

    Wow. Just wow. That was so beautifully written. Stupid wells and stupid princes. Actually I don’t think he was a prince. He was a frog in disguise.

    • 9 July, 2010 / 9:03 pm

      Absolutely. A frog with a convincing disguise…

  25. 13 September, 2010 / 11:30 am

    What a beautiful emotive post. I knew a prince like that once. When I stopped kissing him, he turned back into a frog (more likely a toad) and eventually hopped off, leaving me to return to the sunshine. Princes are rarely princes. Far better to steer clear of castles and mingle with ordinary folk, who are usually far more charming.

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