Britcom Tarot is a series where I use tongue-in-cheek examples from British sitcoms to explain Tarot.
We continue today with a lady who is not always made to feel very welcome – The Queen of Swords.
I don’t know anybody whose favourite card is the Queen of Swords.
“She’s trouble”, they say. “Ooh, spite and vicious words”, they say. “She’s had a hard time of it”, they say.
There’s a fear of her power, her capability, of falling foul of her temper.
And why is this? I suggest it’s been this way since time began. We’ve been taught to fear powerful intelligent women – especially the really mouthy ones!
Who best from British comedy to teach us about this strong, intelligent woman, a woman who has known difficulty, a sharply-dressed pristinely-coiffured Valkyrie, a woman who can read people like a book while totting up a bill, a woman who will never be messed around (again)?
I thought about a number of strong comedy females, but for me, nobody cuts it like Sybil Fawlty.
Yes, Sybil. Basil’s little piranha fish, the cold fish, the snob, the competent businesswoman, the strongest critic of Basil to be found at Fawlty Towers.
What is there to like about Sybil? She amuses us as a comedy character, but is there really any inspiration to be drawn, any compassion to be evoked, and true affinity with the powerful Queen of Swords? You betcha there is.
Sybil came from humble beginnings. She married a dull, incompetent loser of higher social standing with a slight tendency to gamble and a greater tendency to cause catastrophe. And boy has she paid for it.
It is evident that Sybil is the more competent of the two. While Basil flails around screaming obscenities like ‘an ageing, brilliantined stick insect’ (Sybil’s words), Sybil is to be found taking payments, smoothing over problems, being sweetness itself to aggrieved guests and generally running the hotel.
She has the barbed tongue of the Queen of Swords, without doubt. She can “kill a man at ten paces with one blow of her tongue”, but it seems aimed mostly at Basil, who seems mostly to deserve it. She does appear to have shut down emotionally, often telling Basil “Don’t do that” when he tries to kiss her. A Swordy Queen if ever there was one.
What we have to remember about Sybil and the Queen of Swords, however is to remember that they have their reasons, their crosses to bear. They are not willfully vindictive, they just tell it like it is. They just want the facts and they just don’t want the emotional upheaval. If I can get on my feminist high horse for a moment, I’ll remind you that a man can be a lot more ‘bossy’ than Sybil without anybody even noticing.
Have a look at Biddy Tarot’s description of the Queen of Swords, compare her to Sybil and see what you think.
Then, tell me she’s not effing AWESOME!
There’ll be another Britcom Tarot character along soon. In the meantime I love hearing your suggestions: firstname.lastname@example.org
Luv Clara xx