There was a time in my life that Friday Follies would have involved the emptying of a glass tube, sealed at one end, and filled with something called beer. Probably several of them.
But now that I've discovered Jesus, my life has changed for the better. Jesus George, that is: nice guy, lives undera bridge in downtown Henderson. No, that's a lie. I don't know anyone called Jesus George. I simply threw in that line babout discovering Jesus (a very common name in Spanish-speaking nations) to see if you'd choke on your mac-cheese.
Not much to write about, actually. I'm curious to find out what really happened with all the gang /police violence in Jamaica, but NZ media doesn't seem to think it's interesting enough. How about drawing paralells, chaps? Jamaica / NZ? Tiny countries, huge neighbours, gang problems, drug usage out of control (yes,alcohol's far deadlier..), cricket-players.. If it happened there, could it happen here?
Tomorrow we celebrate Jenny's Mum's birthday. She's 91 - I thought she was older: I blame it on my natural proclivity for exaggeration. Working as an advertising writer for a really bug number of years does that to you. My inhalation of brewed liquids will rise sharply: My thoroughly admirable brother-in-law and I will retire to a place where we can drink and tell tall tales about our youthful sexual prowess.
Prior to that I am making the dinner: Boeuf Bourgignon as the main, Karen's Sticky Date Pudding (the best Sticky Date Pudding ever) for dessert. Wine and beer to wash it down with. I'm considering doing a seafood chowder to start: I do a fine one, featuring chili - and as little shellfish as possible. I will take requests for recipes, and may even respond.
Andy Haden sucks, by the way. Thumbs up to him for starting the debate. If what he claims is correct, some serious arse-kicking needs doing. Thumbs vigourosly down for him suggesting that the words "darkie, honkie, hori" etc are harmless. They're not. His acceptance of them indicates that he's a closet racist (as I am, by the way: I occasionally horrify myself by the odd stray thought that flashes across the cerebellum. Thoughts that deserve to be chased by a parabellum.) and he needs to take a few lessons in what's expected of a human being. The laziest and sorriest excuse for a thought is the phrase "PC gone mad": he was in trouble when he uttered it. He merely demonstrated that he has a good grasp of cliches, and may indeed be incapable of individual and intelligent thought.
Listening to: "Roots to Branches", Jethro Tull. One of their five truly great albums. Making my heart bleed right now is the superb song "I'm Beside Myself". It's a song that requires thought: Andy Haden may not be familiar with it. Coming up soon "At Last, Forever", one of the finest love songs ever written.
Reading: Still on the extraordinary "Directive 51", by John Barnes. Very witty, deeply cynical, and he's a writer who's not afraid to toss in a little philosophy: I've just read two stimulating pages on thoughts and ideas having impetus beyond the mind: that they may well exist indepedantly after being brought into existence. Bloody gripping stuff, quite exciting... not what you'd expect to find in a novel that wasn't written by some drug-crazed Frenchman in the 19th century.
More "Paper Heroes":
The first test is done. The first test is met. The first test is passed. The first three have wakened, successfully. Cienwyn speaks again.
“I will be opening our window again, and invite you to approach us. Please do not be alarmed. I know that this may be difficult for you, Colonel Blunt, and you, Sergeant-Major Whistler. Mr Crayne, as you will be acquainted with cryogenics, I would ask that you look upon this as that type of operation.”
The wall where the men had seen the window disappear slowly becomes opaque, translucent, then transparent. The men break formation, and face it together.
Crayne’s smile is grim. Mortal injuries? Cryogenics? This sounds like bullshit. The last I recall is when the Jester’s missile slapped through the rear of the Battlecar. There wouldn’t have been enough left for cryogenic recovery. Mind you, I feel better than I’ve felt in years. No hint of arthritis, my right foot’s whole, and there’s certainly no arrow in my lung.
“Can you two remember dying?” he asks.
“Dying, Sir? I can’t have up and died if I’m standing here with you now, can I? God bless Ireland, but I’m thinking this is not a fit place for a man to be.”
Blunt closes his ears to his friend’s voice, and listens instead to his body. He does have a vague memory of the hedgerows, the coughing bark of the French muskets, yes, the bayonet –
“No!” Blunt isn’t aware that he’s spoken, but he feels his legs tremble. He clutches at Whistler’s arm and said “Christ, Sean: we died. We died! I saw that little French boy cut your throat, I saw the bayonet – “
The big Irishman holds friend, hugging him to his chest. His words are a whisper. “Christ, Sir, don’t you be telling me this now. It’s all that’s been on my mind since I woke up on a bed that wasn’t there. I’ve been praying it was the brandy, so I have.”
“Gentlemen, if I can have your attention please?” The speaker is the oldest in the strange room. He is balding, has a prominent, arrogant nose, large ears, a protruding Adam’s Apple, and sharp blue eyes. He is wearing a soft grey blouse, tied with a red cord at the throat, and a loose blue kilt. The three men wait for him to continue. “My name is Charles Windsor. I am in charge here, and I’d rather like to sit and talk with you all. Tell you what you’re doing here, and all that. You have a lot to learn, indeed, a great deal to come to terms with. And we have a lot to tell you. I’d take it, yes, take it well if you were to join me. In a few minutes. Momentarily. Meantime, I’ll leave you with Cienwyn, Adam, and Paulus, to help you, yes, help you get oriented.”
The man’s speech is halting, almost as if he’s unfamiliar with the language. His voice buzzes like a wasp trapped in a jar: paper on paper, a faint edge of what: anger? Frustration?
Thomas Crayne, Andrew Blunt, and Sean Whistler watch as Charles leaves the room. Crayne steps forward, and taps the window with his knuckles. His voice is mild, with a warm, deep timbre. It is deadly dangerous. “I think that it’s time we met with you.” He points to the woman. She smiles. He smiles back, glacier-cold, his eyes chips of blue ice.
Cienwyn’s eyes colour-shift from blue to brown: a warmer colour, more easily trusted. She sees in Thomas Crayne’s face smile that it won’t work on him. He’s seen the change, and understands it. The Englishman has also noticed, and is clearly wary. He is reaching, groping for something. What? Yes. It’s where his sword would be slung. Adam and Paulus murmur something about it being good the men are unarmed. The two young men are clearly starting to wonder just what it is they’ve wakened. Cienwyn licks her lips. Good, thinks Crayne. She’s nervous.
She speaks. “Gentlemen: if you look over to your left, you’ll see an opening appear. If you’ll be kind enough to come to us? Just follow the lights.”
The three balls of light which surround the men move toward an opening which irises out the blank white wall. The men stay where they are. Good, thinks Blunt. The big stranger knows something about fighting, and the first thing you never do is follow your opponent’s lead. That way lies sure defeat. I have died once today, he thinks. Once is enough. The girl looks wary.
“Gentlemen? If you’ll just –“
“I don’t think so,” replies Blunt. “I think that Sean, the big Jonathon, and I will stay right here.” Blunt’s temper is starting to rise now. Who the hell are these people, and what the hell is going on. Their arrogance infuriates him. “I think you should come in here. To us.”
“Sir?” It’s Sean. He’s been thinking, and watching behind them. “A couple of wee points, if I may, sir. Firstly, we can’t be dead, because you’re a bloody heathen Protestant bastard Englishman, begging your pardon, sir, and I’m the only holy Catholic one here, unless our big friend’s of the faith too. If we were dead, you’d be in hell, and I’d be enjoying a strong cup of tea with Himself, so I would. Secondly sir: there’s some bloody funny business going on with them behind us: the other sleeping ones.”