(Some New Brunswick Friday entertainment)
(Some New Brunswick Friday entertainment)
It is difficult to be,
Or, to do,
(Hard to say which is more accurate)
A Flash Mob of One.
Particularly the alto parts.
But that is all
Which is allowed
In these times of
Six feet (two meters)
By who knows
How many people.
Ya gotta be community safe
(So much better than sorry),
And do it all yourself.
This does, however, make those
Much easier to
Fame is a seductive life sentence. ST suffers consequences as he strides the red carpet.
In Fame’s Victim, ST ends one century attending Oktoberfest in Munich, the biggest party in Europe, and starts the next hiding away from the world’s Press that hound him for his opinion of the Y2K problem. He is there with his lover movie star, also in disguise. His pet name for her is Garbo.
Excerpt From Fame’s Victim:
UM PA PA! UM PA PA!
Kafer’s Wiesnschanke seems not to be a `tent’, but a permanent wooden structure, with lattice at the front. There is outdoor seating, and strings of lights along the peak of the roof. At this time of night guests to the interior are handpicked. No one has given him an invitation or a code word, or any such means of identification. He has not had to prove who he is for so long that he really doesn’t know of any way other than the removal of his disguise. He could show his passport or driver’s license, but the photo displayed doesn’t display him.
People sitting outside give him a once-over, just as they do to all the crowds washing by. Oktoberfest is a people-watching event, but at this time of night, after a festival of beer, there is a sameness and a tiredness to their actions. He has no reason to fear a close scrutiny. ST walks briskly through the seated people and approaches the main entrance. Waiters and waitresses come and go through the door, liter mugs of beer held aloft. There is a small table to the left, and a man wearing a hat sits on a stool behind it. This is obviously the person whose scrutiny ST must meet and pass. He prepares a firm handshake, and a brief explanation of who he is.
From the corner of his eye he sees a figure approach. From its size and build it appears to be a woman, but she is wearing a Harlequin costume and holding a Venetian Sun Mask in front of her face. The gold (it looks like real gold) mask is attached to a long, slender stick, and the hand holding the stick is gloved.
Gloved hand, stick, gold mask and harlequin-attired body all lean toward him. ST is tempted to back away, but an exotic perfume reaching his nostrils is too enticing. He is sure his own disguise will not reveal his identity, so he affixes his fake beard smile.
This sound hissed in his direction seems to be a woman’s voice. Perhaps he is to be asked the time or offered some cut-rate passage to the giant Ferris Wheel. Both have already happened this evening. Some response seems expected and ST decides to resort to his rusty German.
The eyes blink behind the mask and an irrepressible giggle is barely muffled by a gloved hand.
“Annie’s crackers. That better be you.”
“Garbo?” ST takes a surprised step back.
“I was about to take a bite from your cookie.” She removes her mask. “If that wasn’t you, I would have either made an enemy or a friend I don’t want.”
“What are you – ?”
ST can’t tell if he is more surprised by the presence of his lover, or by the fact he didn’t recognize her. As he ponders he hastily pushes her hand so the mask is once again in front of her face. What they both don’t need is the exposure of the beautiful, young movie star. For if she is recognized, will ST be far behind?
“You don’t want to look at me?”
“I don’t want others looking at you.”
“Mmmm.” Garbo steps close and rubs against him. “Jealous?”
“No more than usual.”
This generates a snort from Garbo and a thwack over ST’s head with the mask. She still finds it hard to accept he doesn’t get jealous, even about the explicit love scenes in her last couple of movies.
“Garbo.” ST leans toward her. “We’ll lose our concealment.”
“If we’re being so secretive, don’t call me that in public.”
ST realizes even he is affected by their disguises, for otherwise her pet name would not have been uttered. Garbo is very particular that this name is for his use alone.
“But we’re not even supposed to be in public.” He looks around at the mass of revellers. “I’m here because – ”
“I arranged it.” Garbo giggles again.
“Do you know … ” She lowers her voice, making her words barely audible through the mask. “You look surprised, even through that beard.”
This is a dig at his array of beards. She is far more comfortable with the recognition she receives. ST assumes this difference between them is partly due to her age, and partially because of her business. But he is not above retaliation.
“Who’s wearing the mask?”
“I’m supposed to be a surprise.” Garbo shakes her head, deliberately making the bells on her Harlequin cap jingle. “You are already on the agenda.”
“Let’s not stray off topic.” ST reaches forward and flicks one of the bells. “What do you mean you arranged it?”
“You were asked to come here, because I asked them to ask you …” She jingles the bells again. “… to come here.”
His voice rises as the name-not-to-be-used spills into the night. ST avoids a hit on the arm and puts his mouth next to her ear.
“Garbo.” Her name is now spoken slowly but quietly. “Why did you do such a thing?”
“To get you out of the mansion.” Her lips are close to his ear, but she is not whispering
“Let’s get this over with.”
“Mr. `Life-of-the-party’.” Garbo shakes her own finger. “You need to sing and schunkel.”
“Hook your arms with those of your neighbors, and weave back and forth while singing lustily.”
“I don’t plan to sing – lustily or not.”
“Oh, yes you do.” Garbo links her arm through his, and starts to pull him toward the entrance. “Timely or not.”
She maneuvers ST past the man sitting at the table, and aims for a large, dirndl-encased woman standing at the far side of the door. She has the girth to block the whole doorway by herself, and ST has some hope that she will stop them.
“Remember – you’re with me.”
Garbo chuckles as she says this. When they are a few steps away from the door she lowers her mask and smiles that smile which charms millions. Even though the woman must have been expecting them she looks surprised, and then delighted. She makes a little bow, then opens her arms as if to embrace them.
“Wellcommen. They will be so pleased. The mayor keeps sober until you arrive.”
“That’s asking a lot.” Garbo replaces the mask in front of her face, and tugs ST toward the interior. “We have not expected such a sacrifice.”
“Why not?” ST directs the bearded question toward her ear. “I’ve kept myself without lubrication so I can appear here in fine form.”
“But you have me to get intoxicated on.” Garbo pushes him through the door. “You don’t need vile alcohol.”
“But there is going to be some, isn’t there?”
“Annie’s crackers – it’s Oktoberfest.” She pulls him forward. “It’s a feat you’ve managed to stay sober this long. Now it’s time for your reward.”
Garbo turns toward the table of officials and lowers her mask. The grim face of the dignitary ready to bar their way changes in a second, replaced with a broad smile. He holds out his hand to shake, though obviously debating whether or not to give her a hug. The temptation is great, and the occasion offers a license to such familiarity. Garbo avoids the situation by holding her mask out between them, and pointing toward ST.
The official stops momentarily, the smile trapped on his face. He is confused, wondering if he is being introduced to a bodyguard or some secretary, equivalent to himself. Garbo smiles, and sings a couple of lines from `Don’t Shortchange Us.’ She sings loudly enough to be heard by the other officials at the table, and immediately two heads whisper into the mayor’s ear. The man jumps up, his chain of office clanging against the beer stein in front of him. He pushes past his own officials, and makes a lunge for ST’s hand.
“Mein Herr. Welcommen!”
The mayor’s grip is so forceful that ST is again pulled off stride and they both bump into the table at the same time. The heart shaped gingerbread cookie around ST’s neck gets caught in the mayor’s heavy chain, and they are pulled together as they try to come apart. ST smells the beer on the other man’s breath, and has a pang of envy. Alcohol would be a relief right now, Glen Grant or not.
“We do a little dance – yes?”
The mayor is laughing, but ST realizes that he may be in some danger of losing his disguise. He doesn’t plan any further excursions tonight but his life proves unpredictable, and he can never be sure. Plus, the pull of glue from his face will not feel very pleasant or look very dignified. He can neither escape, nor risk the energetic contact his dancing partner encourages.
“Does this mean you have no time to dance with me?”
Garbo eases herself close to the two men. She stands in such a way that she could be speaking to either of them. They are confused and stop moving. Garbo reaches over and using both hands, manages to untangle the ornate mayor’s chain, and the string which the giant cookie hangs from. She winks at ST, then nudges against the mayor with her hip.
“Or do you boys prefer each other’s company?”
ST takes note of the most flamboyant dancers on the floor, and starts to copy their steps. Garbo is initially surprised, but quickly follows his lead. She is prepared to match his every move, and ST is determined to make her lose her step. Other revellers make room for them, and some even start to clap to the music. The bandleader has noticed the commotion, and after watching the couple for a minute turns the beat around to their rhythm. By this time even the mayor’s table is back on their feet, thumping their beer steins on its slippery surface.
“Bring it home, Mamma!” shouts the mayor.
Garbo growls with laughter as ST puts a hand on either side of her waist, and lifts her from the floor. She places her hands on his shoulders, and kicks back with her feet. ST actually aims her in different directions, and other dancers dodge away, squealing in delight.
“And another thing.” Garbo is panting and shouting into his ear at the same time.
“What would that be?” ST precariously leans back, almost losing his balance as he lets her slide to the floor off his chest. He twirls her on her stomach before he scoops her up again, and grips her hard against him.
“You’re heading into two months of Millennium stuff?”
“And it’s going to be serious?”
“Then ya gotta have some f-u-n.” She throws her hands over her head and leans way back, knowing he is not going to let her go. “And what better place is there than the biggest party in Europe?”
As she presses against him again he has a different answer to her question, and he whispers it into her ear. Her eyes go wide, and she brings up her hand in a motion to slap his face.
But she kisses him instead.
[Image] https: /thefederalist.com/wp-content/uploads/2016/09/Oktoberfest-Packages-2015.jpg
In Kafka In The Castle, I fill in the ‘missing’ diary entries from Kafka’s real diary. He either did not fill in these days himself, or he destroyed them. There are some estimates that Kafka destroyed 70% – 80% of everything he wrote.
08 April 1917
I seem to end in the most absurd situations. This afternoon, before Sunday dinner, Ottla took me away for some gardening. Rooting around in the earth, with the frost barely gone. Only Ottla could find such a plot of ground in Prague, or expect me to grub about in it like some hungry animal.
It was obviously some sort of communal land – such places are popular during this war. There were even families at work. Children also. One small boy was caught between his interest in the garden, and his desire to be a small boy. And what a dilemma it was. He’d work in the ground for awhile, following the example of his mother, then suddenly race around, exploring like a small boy. He came over to Ottla and me, and hunkered down beside us. He shook his head with a sigh of exasperation, and reached over to put his hands on mine. “Mummy says that’s wrong,” and with great patience and determination, began to show me how to prepare the earth. I thought there could be no better proof to Ottla of how inept I was.
I followed the movements of his hands, and between us, we dug quite a hole. At last the little fellow stood, obviously satisfied. “I go now,” he said, and ran away to see some other entertaining oddity. Ottla hadn’t laughed for fear of offending the boy, but she didn’t show such restraint when we were finally alone.
It fell to me to find the flowers.
Such things prove God’s sense of humour, for I have no interest or understanding for flowers. There was a fellow at university who could talk about flowers for hours. Otherwise, he was quite pleasant to be with. So it seems a joke that I would find them, between a pile of rubble and the wall of a house.
I had been exploring, much as the little fellow had done. In fact, he was running past when I found them, so I showed him also. They were white, with frail leaves close to the ground. Quite nondescript. But the boy was fascinated. He put his face close, although he didn’t touch them.
“Can I tell Mummy?” He obviously thought they were my flowers. “Yes,” I said, and he ran to get her. She followed him as he chattered all the way, and then she too hesitated, looking at me cautiously. “Perhaps your wife would like to see them,” she suggested. It took a moment to realize she was referring to Ottla. The flowers had become my possession. “Yes,” I said, “And tell anyone you like.” “The first flowers of Spring,” she said, and she went to tell the others, taking care to stop at Ottla first.
Tiny white flowers.
I can still not believe the looks upon their faces, as they crowded around. Even the children were silent.
The relief they showed.
Unicorns are mentioned eight times in the Holy Bible. So – there they were. The list is below.
Therefore, when I have Druids, and their affiliated unicorns, go to Jerusalem in my novel A Lost Gospel, to make sure Jesus gets crucified, I feel I was on solid ground. And when one of my druids, Ogma, has the following experience, I believe it possesses a symmetry of Biblical proportions.
Unicorns are mentioned in the following places of The Bible:
God brought them out of Egypt; he hath as it were the strength of an unicorn.
From A Lost Gospel
“Are you lost?”
Ogma was taken by surprise, but he did not turn toward the speaker. He had no desire to start a conversation, he just wanted to be left to himself.
“Yet you are a traveller to these parts.”
Ogma knew only too well the interest local people had for strangers in their midst. It was an interest which could easily turn into suspicion. He was alone, and he did not want to have trouble in this unknown land.
“I had business in Jerusalem.” Ogma shrugged. “The desire came upon me to feel earth under my feet, not paving stones.”
“And you find yourself here.”
“I turned from the main road at a whim.”
“What did you in Jerusalem?”
“I do not intrude thus in your life.” Ogma kept a steady gaze across the field, though he could not keep irritation from his voice.
“Yet you do intrude – for here you are.”
“If I’m on your land, I apologise. I thought it was a common road. There is no barrier in place to warn me otherwise.”
Ogma wondered if it was time to leave the way he had come, or to stay and talk. Despite the words spoken, the other man’s voice displayed no anger, or annoyance.
“Do you find no peace in Jerusalem?”
“I’ve had a troubled time in your grand city.”
Ogma suddenly realised he had things he wanted to say, which he could not discuss with the other druids. He finally turned to the man, wondering if he should explain further.
“By the gods of death!” Ogma stood back in fear. “This is not possible.”
“There are no boundaries to what is possible.”
“I saw them hang you up.”
“You saw flesh. And blood.”
“Then what do I see now?”
“More than a man of sorrows.”
“Glarus was right.” Ogma began to move further away, but stopped himself. “I’m not to fear you, or the change you bring.”
“Truth deserves acceptance, not fear.”
“Do you know of my burden?”
The other man raised his arm and pointed. Ogma turned to follow the outstretched hand. He saw the two unicorns standing close together among the trees.
“Have they brought me here?”
“They have led you to a place you sought yourself.”
“You know of Glarus.” Ogma stopped abruptly, and his voice lowered. “The gods I understand believe in trade. Take me instead of her.”
“You care so much?”
“I know the worth of things.” Ogma stared directly at the other man. “It is better to have her alive than me.”
“No man knows his own worth.” Yeshua touched the small man, then held him close. “My father’s love does not barter.” He released Ogma with a smile. “Return to Jerusalem. You travel with companions.”
“The beasts accompany me?”
“Thou hast heard me from the horns of the unicorns.”
(image)Unicorn Tapestries at the Cloisters – New York, New York https://assets.atlasobscura.com/media/W1siZiIsInVwbG9hZHMvcGxhY2VfaW1hZ2VzL2VmYjZmYmVkZjk1MzNhMDgyZV9GOTNBMjc5My5qcGciXSxbInAiLCJ0aHVtYiIsIngzOTA-Il0sWyJwIiwiY29udmVydCIsIi1xdWFsaXR5IDgxIC1hdXRvLW9yaWVudCJdXQ/F93A2793.jpg
I am so sorry to have missed the event, not just for the book launch, but because it was a part of Evensong. My interest in this service is explained in the following blog, that I posted last year, around the time of Remembrance Day.
Trusty Google helped me find one last Sunday. Not only an Evensong, but a Choral Evensong. And not only choral, but it was dedicated as a Remembrance Evensong. I was coming in, out of the cold, in style.
It was held in St. George’s Church – also know as the Round Church for its shape. www.roundchurch.ca
I had been in the church as a tourist, but not for years. A 5pm service in November got me there at dusk. It is a large church, complete with upper balconies. It is close in proximity to the Halifax naval yard, and I wondered if there would be some military presence. As it was, an officer in uniform read a lesson, while a military chaplain gave the sermon.
Not having been to an Evensong for decades, I don’t know if it was a large or small congregation. My guess is there were thirty or so people present, plus 10 in the choir, plus 2 ministers, 1 verger and the organist/choir director.
I would say that Evensong is a modified Morning service, perhaps more fitting for the time of day. In addition to a choral choir singing selections on their own, there were hymns that are favourites of mine. “Oh God, Our Help In Ages Past” “Abide With Me” and three (3) stanzas of “God Save The Queen”. How close to heaven can one monarchist get?
As an added surprise (which would have made my father ecstatic) it was a High Church Anglican church, and even had incense. Perhaps that explained the choral choir.
At the end, after the procession had left, the large and booming organ belted out a selection by César Franck – Pièce Héroïque“. Members of the choir returned and sat in pews to listen.
When it was completed and people started to leave, I had a tiny ageist and sexist lapse. Two little, white-haired ladies got out of their pew to leave. Walking slowly before me, they talked of the music. I thought they were going to complain about the (admittedly) lengthy organ recital.
“Oh, that music,” said one.
“Yes,” said the other, nodding.
“It’s one of my favourite pieces.”
“I know what you mean.”