Tales? Of brave Ulysses? Who, as you may recall was enchanted by the mermaids who, as their defining feature have great tails. Not to be mistaken, as Ulysses seems to have done, for a great piece of tail. It was this error of judgement that led, famously, to ‘his naked ears [being] tortured by the sirens sweetly singing.’
Anyway, James Joyce also jotted down a few thoughts on the subject and, if memory serves me correctly produced a book that had a sort of ‘tales in parallel’ arrangement to it with limited reference to mermaids. Although ‘great pieces of tail’ infiltrate a lot of stories (Joyce’s little ditty is no exception) and are put in there primarily to divert the hero from course. So I suppose mermaids are an ideal euphemism. Have you ever seen an unattractive mermaid?
Here’s another thought. Have you ever seen a short-haired mermaid? Presumably they are depicted with those flowing locks to preserve their modesty. Which is a bit of a contradiction considering their reported behaviour. The world is full of conflicting messages. And we males place ourselves at terrible risk by complaining about these messages. So I won’t.
So, what’s my point? I don’t know. I was hoping to stumble across one in there somewhere. But I suppose, at least, that there’s some comfort to be taken in the knowledge that those great seafaring heroes of the past were just as easily undone by matters of the heart as have been all the rest of us. Because ‘when your fingers find her she drowns you in her body, carving deep blue ripples in the tissues of your mind’.
That’s my tale. And Eric Clapton’s too.