Friday, June 3, 2011

sugar me

It's been all go here at M.E. Central. Picture it like this: I've been assigned to a particularly long and arduous project that takes most of my time and energy. There is no remuneration or job satisfaction, it's boring and unpleasant, but - well - I've been chosen, and my employer has made me an offer I can't refuse. It's not much of an offer really: either knuckle under or risk feeling even worse. Still, one grabs a moment here and there to look at the sky which, at time of speaking to you, is as blue as sky can be, and I am in Brighton by the heavenly windows.

My London Smoke-and-Writer friend came for a visit and we talked about The Writing, which for my part has mainly been going on in my pea-souper, pillow-pressed head. I have not put finger to keyboard for a month or two but had some pages scrawled in an orange A4 Silvine notepad (I like Silvine, we go back a long way), so I read that out, and in spite of the clear first-draftiness of it, the place of story is there, waiting for me. It is as though M.E. Headquarters got wind of this and has hit back hard. It is, as I have said before, a jealous God. Ah well, I have been here before, though not quite this bad for some time, and have lifted up again. The worst symptom is the feeling of electricity in head and limbs. Well, it is not just a feeling, there really is electricity: I have seen it go into the dials on a wristwatch which went whizzing round. One of those weird things - don''t ask. I'm not the only one. Walking barefoot in the summer is good, helps it to discharge.

The new food regime is going slowly. I am making myself have proper breakfast every day. First steps. And the sugar does, of course, have to go - though I do, of course, love it so, being addicted to the White Lady. Letting her go now. It will be better so.


Anna MR said...

Helpless to do much else in the way of support except to say fuu-uck (for this you need to hear the sort of exasperated, angry and sympathetic stretched vowel in the middle there). And to send hugs, and to come dancing with you.

Mwahs from me. May at least the sky stay divine blue for you, my dear Signs.


Reading the Signs said...

The extra vowels give it a kind of Finnish look, sweet Seestah Mr :)

Does this all sound too horribly miserable? Difficult to say how things are without saying - how things are. But you know me - ray of sunshine in adversity (that's the spin, anyway).

Anna MR said...

Nah honey - you have the knack of keeping horribly miserable between the lines, palpable for the sensitive reader (moi, ha) to perceive, never making a song and a dance over being miserable - if you see what I mean. Not to start claiming that you would be miserable, my dear - just extrapolating with the view that I certainly would be. But then few have your courage and spirit, and I don't claim to be one of them.

A Finnish look, yes. Did you find the Finnish karaoke version I left you? En sulle luvannut mä ruusutarhaa? Plenty double vowels there.

You do a lovely spin. deferine - a defiant she?


Fire Bird said...

oh it's good to hear news from where you are... the place of story to keep you company inwardly even if not yet manifesting...

Mim said...

De-sugared, unsugared . . .

Write whatever you please.

Write on,


Reading the Signs said...

Oh yes - I have been doing Finnish Karaoke in my sleep! Aw shucks the nice things you say, Dancing Queen x <3 (is a Facebook heart innit)

Fire Bird, thanks and gawd bless you, poet - and I'll survive to carry on squawking from time to time.

Mim? Right, then. Right on! (But the Sugar, how I do miss her so :()

Fire Bird said...

What an utterly weird song that was to be sure... kind of Eurovision-style with strange percussive slapping sounds at intervals - is there supposed to be some hidden S/M message?

Reading the Signs said...

'Tis a weird song to be sure, F B. I hadn't considered the possible S/M nuance of the percussive slapping sounds, but now you mention it - . I think it's a rather good song - sad and ironic with just a touch of cleverness. Lynsey de Paul did some nice things way back when. Kind of quirky and slyly subversive. You more or less had to be sly in them days.

Montag said...


(slow-motion writing... it gives me time to think about what-in-heaven will follow the initial "It".)

Anna MR said...


(Just giving Montag a hand here, k?)


Reading the Signs said...

Excuse me - Montag, am I to be left twiddling my thumbs with It hanging in the air, becoming increasingly portentous with every minute? Come back!

And, look you, Anna, with the best of intentions, naturally, says that It "happened". Lawks-a-mercy, as though things were not precarious enough! What happened?? I have had my suspicions, oh yes, that Armageddon really did cut a swathe on that inauspicious day (the date of which momentarily escapes me) and that I was unnacountably left unenraptured. Dangerous times. But on the other hand, if you both are still here things can't be so bad, can they?

Right, well - I'm waiting - the suspense is doing my head in!

Montag said... day...

("happened" was just a bit abrupt, and it took my breath away. I mean, to consign our slow motion comment to the manacles of the past tense took a bit of chutzpah. I would have dithered about it for weeks, but Anna took the plunge.)

Anna Chutzpah MR said...

...towards the end of summer...

(chutzpah is my middle name, Montag - hence I can allow myself a full five words)

(Signs? I have just been listening to that song Now I Wanna Be Your Dog....check under my name for what the wvls gave me therefore)


Digitalesse said...

A taste of honey is worse than none at all. I behave like a hapless sugar junkie at times.

Reading the Signs said...

Montag, if there is any information about another impending Enrapturement then you should really tell me now. It may well have happened one day, but can we be sure?

Anna, you are clearly barking. Barking - har - geddit. Don't be talking about the end of summer. The beginning of it hasn't been properly established yet. A few days of sunshine, I mean to day. Now look, you've got me talking about the weather ...

Reading the Signs said...

Digi, hands up, I am definitely a sugar junkie - who knew? I should have. I've gone cold turkey on it (not really how one should do it) and am following a programme of Sensitive Eating. Doesn't stop me wanting it. But I have to admit I'm feeling just a smidgeon better. Today, that is :/

Reading the Signs said...

Sensible eating, is what I meant to say. But sensitive too, I suppose, yes.

Montag said...

... " , " ...

My addition today: insert a comma (,) after the word "summer".

Punctuation counts.

Ms Chutzpah said...

...when the dog-days of August...

(Punctuation does indeed count, Montag. But because I'm me - Ms Chutzpah - I reserve the right to add five words per go, otherwise we'll never get anywhere with this. And do note my deft use of compound noun, please.)

(Signs? This is about summers past, not this one just beginning. We have had a heat wave for a few days. I'm stuck indoors with bronchitis and antibiotics which, as a side effect, absolutely demand you stay out of the sun. Yes I know, weird innit. But therefore I can't even sun myself on the balcony. See, now you got me talking about not only the weather but also annoying ailments of little interest nor consequence… And as for barking, someone's got to in this household. Ms Dogot, bless her, only barks at squirrels.)


Reading the Signs said...

Right. I want one: a talking, howling wolf-dog of my very own, or even one that just barks at grey squirrels - actually, especially those, they can be a damn nuisance around here.

Ms Chutzpah, you what? Nonono, I am the sick one here and you are the dancing queen, forsooth - you trying to upstage me or something? And isn't it just a bit spooky that the minute I say I'm feeling a smidgeon better, you should be laid low with this damnable itis and needing to take (making sign of evil eye now) antibiotics? Kick it up the tuchus, Sees. And you are taking the best probiotics and vitamins money can buy, goes without saying. And (vegetarian version of) chicken soup? Damn.

Montag, at this rate the Second Coming will have been and gone before we ever find out what happened one day towards the end of summer when the dog-days of August .... etc.

Patience is my second name, but it behoves you now to proceed and conclude. Time's winged chariot and all that. Phew.

Montag said...

...found me wandering idly among the ruins...

Anna MR said...

...of the deserted castle.

(Nota Bene: that is a full stop. We are moving into the Second Sentence...aren't you thrilled? I'm thrilled.)


Reading the Signs said...

Can someone please remind me what the plot is? (You see the problem here - mind not quite the ticket)

Anna MR said...

It happened one day towards the end of summer, when the dog-days of August found me wandering idly among the ruins of the deserted castle.

No plot evident so far, Fairest Signs - just an atmospheric build-up.

I liked - even though the word seems out of place in this context - your description of The Split....very much.


Reading the Signs said...

Well - it's not a bad opener, to be sure. But everything hangs on what it is that actually happened. It can't just be that the narrator ran out of Marlboro Lights. Well it could, I suppose. Actually, yes. But at the same time s/he should also spot a UFO or something.

Thank you, thank you. It is a Split, I think - yes. But we are both fully cognisant of each other.

Anna MR said...

It happened one day towards the end of summer, when the dog-days of August found me wandering idly among the ruins of the deserted castle.

I had only just cursed lustily, having realised I'd run out of Marlboro Lights. My gender was still non-specific to myself, and above the castle, the shape of a UFO could almost be seen, hovering lightly as if carved fresh out of an angel's dream. But …

Montag will have his story made for him, what with your contribution and all, Fairest Fräulein Signs

…Split or no Split, you do know how to turn a fine tale, it has to be said.


Montag said...

" I glanced back to the Villa Diodati, I could see Byron stumbling towards the hill, an old fabric hat slouched upon his morning headache. The Mothership - or Fathership - seemed to be searching for something, and it reminded me of a large swine snuffling out truffles.
'Marlboro s'en va-t en guerre...' I hummed to no one in particular. "Marlboro has gone to war.' said Mary echoing.
I had forgotten her presence. She had mentioned a nightmare earlier at breakfast. She mentioned no details. Now this UFO business...
Perhaps this would be a good day for a sail on the lake..."

(When did this change to "Improv" with the audience shouting out suggestions?)

Montag said...


It is the morning after the Shelleys, Byron, and John Polidori were telling ghost stories.

Byron has not yet seen the UFO. Mary Shelley has had a nightmare, and P.B. Shelley thinks of sailing.
Polidori is yet asleep.

Reading the Signs said...

Mary Shelley's notebook:

I have a curious presentiment. Shelley was in strange humour this morning as we walked among the ruins. We were late to bed and woke early, with the birds. He said my name. I do not know which of us is the more fanciful. I am certain I saw the orb that seemed to hang in the sky in my dream, and felt that it boded ill.

Shelley went out in the boat and has not yet returned.

Montag said...

I am beginning to become enchanted y the story.

Montag said...

After the midday meal, Byron collapsed into a chair facing the lake. John Polidori excused himself to go write in the study, leaving Mary and I to ourselves. I mentioned the meteorological orb, that mystery above the mountain. It had moved to a locus directly over the ruins of our morning walk: a great wispy lenticular cloud.

Reading the Signs said...

Message to headquarters on Planet Vron.

Mission accomplished. We captured the earthling easily, he being out on rough water in a primitive vessel and eager to be saved from drowning. He says he is Ozymandias, King of Kings. He may be running a fever.

Montag said...


How Bulwer-Lytton of you!

Montag said...

The two time-lines diverge into a runny taffy of time-space, the one which had jumped ahead with Shelley on a sailing craft taking on water, and the other with him sitting beside Mary looking at a lenticular cloud over the ruined castle.
Other time-lines swarmed like cannibalistic goldfish, coming out of the foam like einsteinian lenses fading in and out, snarling and biting each other and eviscerating space-time from their neighbor time-lines' bowels with their piranha teeth...

One had John Polidori drowning on the sail boat on the stormy lake, another had Byron leaving poetry and studying Cornelius Agrippa, delving into Alchemy and other more unholy arts, seeking to find the secret of life.
Others had the clouds that Mary and Shelley had seen that morning suddenly disgorging alien combatants to lay siege to Switzerland, and yet others had icons of someone named "Robert Mugabe" descending upon the mountains.

Shelley and Mary looked at each other with wild surmise, sensing that they were running out of time to make up their minds and firmly grasp one time-line, no matter how vicious it may appear...

Reading the Signs said...

Montag, I was just about to reply to your Bulwer-Lytton comment! I mean to say, at least I didn't write "and then s/he woke up and found that it had all been a dream".

But you like the idea of Shelley being abducted by aliens, even though it does leave the question of whose body came back to the shore, but I don't think details like that need to get in the way.

Your other 'treatment' fair does my head in, I must confess. It's too post-modern (and I never could get on with Tristram Shandy).

Meanwhile, on the Planet Vron ...

Montag said...

Hmmm...... whose body did come back to the shore?!?!

In the best "DaVinci Code" and "Indiana Jones" style we shall be off to Rome... where the poet's ashes are interred.
The game is afoot, Lady Insignia!

Montag said...


By Bulwer-Lytton I meant you had a fondness for words with "Vr"...

he had a "vril" thing going.

Montag said...

Gadfrey! I just realized it was up to me again. Where's Anna? Put in your paddle, A!

Anna MR said...

Meanwhile, on the Planet Vron, our heroes - in their parallel incarnations - were searching for The Rings, each wearing a Sacred Hat to protect them from the natives' seventeen pairs of evil eyes.

The Rings hath been hid on the said planet by the Mischievous Weevils, which took great pleasure in leading astray cosmic thoughts and storylines. This was their sole purpose of existence. The head of operations in this parallel was Constyll Eavyins, an inappropriately obscure specimen of his curious species…

Reading the Signs said...

Now just you wait a minute - I know Constyll Eavyins very well because he came to one of my night classes when I taught - what was it? - Creative Writing. At least that was the Title of the course. I had to boot Constyll out because he was disruptive. Kept sticking his tongue out and making horrible noises when people read their work. He had pointy ears and a badge that said Punks from Outer Space.

So he was involved with the Shelley abduction fiasco. Who'd a thunk!

I don't know who our "heroes" are supposed to be, btw, but it probably doesn't matter. Does it?

Montag said...

Apparently not.
So, Signs, you have now interjected yourself into the narrative? Or is this still Mary Shelley's journal?

I have to think about this.
I have an intense dislike for words beginning with " -vr-" stemming from my bad experiences as a scout ( My memory mixes up Baden-Powell with Bulwer-Lytton! and that is far less a melange than Tolkien's ring on Vron! )

Montag said...

By the way, are the magic hats made from tin foil or cling film?

Montag said...

I finally stopped by TPE's digs and was very much amused. TPE should be called on to arbitrate our mythology.

Reading the Signs said...

I have a hunch that the story, if that is what it is, may have post-post moderned itself out. TPE may say different of course - but where he? I am quite sure he is no stranger to Vron.

I can't think of anything else beginning with Vr apart from Count Vronsky in Anna Karenina.

Montag said...

"Vril" as in Bovril, the meat extract named for "bovine" and "vril", vril being some magic substance of Bulwer-Lytton's "The Coming Race".

vril, vril, vril. Probably old B-L derived it himself from "virile".

It gives me the shivers.

Anna MR said...

The identity of our heroes. Does it matter? It does and yet it does not. It is not a straightforward us and them situation - as whosoever readeth these words immediately becometh an us - and yet some folks are, by virtue of nature, already us, whether their paths ever bring them hither or nay. The same, although not quite, goeth with them. Make of that what thou wilt.

Constyll Eavyins hath used his partaking in the Creative Writing class as a cover. Not even the ever-watchful eye of the teacher could spot him as the spiritual leader of the Vignati, an organisation so secret that nothing apart from its name is truly known. It is therefore impossible to know whether we aren't already members of this society in the here and now, or possibly, in the future and/or in another of our incarnations. This maketh all of us heroes, even if for a day only, but the length of cosmic days in endless incarnations and parallels can add up to endless times.

Swimming in the cosmic sea, our heroes therefore saw it best to lose the Sacred Hats. They were silly, anyway, resembling that worn by a certain Dr. H.W. Jones, PhD, and furthermore, proved cumbersome as they soaked up the salt water. The Quest for The Rings seemed like an unnecessary hassle, too. Why worry? Everything was simultaneously possible, after all, if not here then certainly somewhere else; and naturally enough, by extension, impossible. Better to play with the dolphins, surely.

As for Count Vronsky - he was enjoying his cup of Bovril, although the increasingly neurotic behaviour of his mistress Anna was beginning to get to his manfully level-headed stance. If only Nyoosha could swim, he found himself thinking, with no clear path of thought leading him to this startling conclusion…

Anna MR said...

A taste of her own medicine hath left the co-author here somewhat nonplussed. Where playeth the others?
The situation doth drive her most unhingl. Why wanteth not the others to ponder upon the grave situation of Count Vronsky? Or that of poor, neurotic, beleaguered and love-stricken Nyoosha?

Vroom, vroom, vroom. Count Vronsky looked up from his Bovril, and to his utmost surprise, saw a cloud formation descend upon the English garden of his dacha. The china mug shook in his hands, as afore his incredulous eyes, an aperture appeared on the side of the cloud, out of which stepped a handsome man in his mid-thirties, dressed elegantly in the attire common to nobility of his era - but made entirely of some unknown material so luminously shiny as to make its colour quite indescribable.

"Vrouw Anna?", Constyll Eavyins asked the paled lady - for yes, it was indeed he, in one of his many disguised incarnations…

Reading the Signs said...

Don't worry about a thing, my dear pale and unhingled warrior Princeling - for I have rallied the troops. The Vroops. And I hope, nay - expect help to come imminently in the form of a Celestial Social Worker who will tell us all what to do.

In haste - back soon - mwah!

Montag said...

Shelley came up for air, gasping. His ears were filled with the fury of the storm that had broken around his sloop.
"Who'd a thought drowning would be such a loquacious and prolix undertaking?" he thought, looking around for the good boat "Busted Flush" he had rented for the afternoon.
If he could only stop thinking of all the time-lines; they meshed and unmeshed like phantasma clouds emanating from a Djinn lamp of some Borgesian Aladdin.
"Stop with the 'Vrouw' already!" he called to the wind. The wind ignored him and turned on a dime and did a "Vroom-vroom!" like a malevolent child on a hellish "Hot Wheels".

Just as he was about to give up and sink to his doom, he heard a familiar voice...
Byron! He heard Byron calling his name!
As the storm approached, Byron had gotten a boat with a big Johnson and had gone looking for his friend.

Shelley frantically waved and yelled. Byron spotted him, and hove to, then moved closer.
Shelley waited for something to grab onto. "Throw me a life ring, Bertie!" (He called Byron "Bertie".)
Byron pondered.
"You know," Byron said, "I am reading Agrippa and Paracelsus, and studying how to create life... I am wondering whether I should just wait a few minutes and then use your remains for raw material in my unholy experiments."

"Blast your eyes, Bertie!" Shelley yelled, grabbing the gunwhale of the boat and hoisting himself aboard.
"You never could do a selfless act without somehow turning it into an appalling act of self-aggrandizement and atheism!"

Byron lifted a supercilious cilia.
"Are you no longer an atheist, Shelley?"

Shelley spit up a couple flagons of lake water, struggled to catch his breath, and sat silent.

Montag said...

Mary ran to meet the boat. The winds howled and the rain came in gusty packets.
She grabbed Shelley as he staggered from the boat.
"My love! Did you seek to drink the entire ocean, nor leave any friendly drop for me?" she said, trying to warm his shivering body.
Byron jumped about doing boatish things: tying ropes to cleats, stowing gear, and generally being Byronesque in a time of stress.

When the arrived back at the Villa, they put Shelly to bed with a fire going in his room. When they left his chamber, they chanced upon Polidori, who seemed surprised to stumble across fellow humans right then. It was growing dark, and Polidori held a large candle.
"Ah!" he said. "Ahem!"
Then "Ah-ha!"
"'Lo, Poli." said Byron.
"Hello, Byron. Still here?"
"Ah... yes, we are. Just put Shelley to bed."
"Ah-ha!" said Polidori again. He seemed to be in the midst of numerous enlightenments, requiring an "ah-ha" coda.
"What, ho!" Polidori said, and toddled off. Then he turned back.
"Did you see that UFO thingie upon the hill?"
"Yes." said Byron, wincing at the memory. "It is some sort of craft from the Planet Bovril or Chevril, or some other such ghastly place."
"Hmmmm..." Polidori mused. He asked "Was it all a commercial advert, then?"
"Quite possibly." said Byron.
Mary impatiently blew out the candle Polidori was carrying and pushed him into a large linen closet. He tumbled around for a bit, then came back out covered in linens.
"Look like a ghost, old man!" Byron chuckled.
Polidori explicated his way out of the sheets.
Mary smiled. "Let's tell some ghost stories tonight. 'Brocken Spectres' and such always cheer Bysshe up proper."
Polidori mumbled something about Etruscans, and Byron smiled at them both, like a schoolmaster would at two rather witless children.

Montag said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Montag said...

Byron cleared his throat and spoke: "By telling ghost stories, do you mean the very same thing we already did a couple of evenings ago?"
Mary nodded in agreement.
"Childe Harold!..." thought Byron.
"My dear... My dear, Mary. That would require us to go back in time and do it all over again."

Polidori blinked.
"We could just tell new stories tonight." he said. "I think Saunders told me that the wine cellars of 3 days ago had disappeared in the after-shock of the UFO thingie crashing up on the hill..."

Byron considered.
"That would make for dry throats. But do we have wine now?"
"New wine..." Polidori said, looking at Saunders for affirmation.
"Yes, sir." the bloke said. "And if I may take the liberty sir, the name is Constyll, not Saunders."
Polidori did an ah-ha, then titttered like a twit.
"New wine, old wineskins, what?"

Byron felt like vomiting and remembered some old joke from school about Ed Nauseam. Where did he meet up with these people?

Montag said...

So they went in to dress for dinner. Cook was given meticulous orders on what to serve, for they were looking to promote indigestion and Fuseli nightmares by taking a page from Dickens (who had not yet been born) and sought to stimulate their after-dinner stories and cigars with both the gravy boat as well as the grave yard!

Montag said...

It was late evening.
"Who wants to go first?" said Polidori.
"Ladies first," said Byron, hoisting a wine glass towards Mary.
She had had a dream during her afternoon nap that had discomfitted her considerably, and she wondered whether to use it as her script for the after-dinner tales to be told this night.

Reading the Signs said...

But then, as she considered, she was not certain whether she was really awake or merely dreaming. For here was Shelley, seemingly restored to her, when she had fancied him drowned in the sea, and here were Polidori and Byron wishing to tell stories. And yet, Mary felt as though she herself, and all of them in the room, were themselves the subjects of some other story that was being told or written at some time far in the future that she could barely imagine. The unidentified flying object had had an unsettling effect on her.

Montag said...

It was all very "Purple Rose of Cairo" she thought, where the divide between the tale and the teller - or the tale and the viewers - becomes indistinct and unsettling.
Unsettling for a while, until everyone gets up to speed with the new genesis, the new reality, and things pretty much go on as before.

She had dreamed of rescuing a poor wretch from the Arctic wastes, setting him before the fire, and rubbing him vigorously to warm him up... just as they had warmed poor Shelley up when he regained the Villa after his adventure.
Yet, the wretch was not Shelley in her dream; he had not his face nor his build, and he had spoken of yet another castaway in the snow and ice.

What was that flying object? Byron had told an interminable tale about the Montgolfier brothers and their large balloons. Could it be one of theirs, escaped to the mountains?

She looked around. Shelley seemed to doze off, Byron was running his index finger along the rim of the wine goblet, making Moogish tunes, and John Polidori was doddling on a piece of foolscap.
They were waiting on her start.

Anna MR said...

Meanwhile, back at the dacha

"Vrouw Anna," repeated Constyll Eavyins in his handsome-stranger attire. "My dear lady - I need you to listen and trust me now. I have read this book, and you do not fare well. However, I have the power to change all that for you - for this incarnation of you. All you need to do is simply to trust me now and step onto this vessel of mine which saileth the temporal seas hidden within the skies."

Poor Nyoosha! She had never been strong of will, though her ability to act wildly and impulsively against convention had become apparent by this time. Wringing her gloved hands she shot fretful glances from one man to the other. Vronsky appeared frozen, but in his eyes, Nyoosha saw again the dreaded disenchanted disapproval she had begun to note in his attitude as of late…

"Come, dear Lady. The choice is already made for you, for there is a future you cannot fathom, in which I have already saved you upon the pages of a worthy bloggerina. Come, give me your hand, and I shall take you away. Unfortunately, on our way we need to nip over to a secret location by a lake, where a cluster of feckless writers are getting into all manner of unthusl… But you need not worry about such matters. Besides, once that is dealt with, we shall go and pick up your son from that cold-hearted knuckle-cracking wretch, Karenin. Come along now, it's one small step even for a woman…but a massive leap in the history of time, literature, and multiple possibilities. Trust me, Vrouw Anna, trust me…"

Vronsky was left staring skywards, the Bovril long since gone cold.

~~~THE END~~~

Montag said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Montag said...

" 'The End"?! " expostulated Byron. "The End, indeed. End of what, my sweet Ozymandias? Do you think us thralls and villeins that we tremble at your words, your words standing alone like forlorn statues entreating us to look upon your works... and thus to despair?!"
Polidori looked up.
"Good point," Shelley said.
Mary woke from her dream, puzzled at what was happening.

"Gaze, young lady, upon yonder lenticulate intelligent cloud, cast up like a desert of dust by the hooves of the numberless Assyrians about to descend upon the fold!"

Darkness had fallen, and the object glowed over the ruined mountains.

"Aliens, by Paracelsus!" yelled Byron from the open casement, holding a glass of Chateau Margaux. "I sense an alien presence, yet we go about our daily lives in superb disdain of the works of these other-worldy intelligences!"

"Bickie," said Shelley ("Bickie" was another nickname for Byron).
"Bickie, you are beginning to sound absolutely monkish; you intone your Vespers to heavenly clouds and orbs!"

Byron smiled.
"Yes, we go about our homely tasks: Polidori dithers, Mary dreams and vamps, Shelley takes a whirl at drowning... how mundane and tedious it all is!"

Montag said...

Byron returned to the table and sat heavily.
"Rally round, troops!" he called out.
Polidori looked around, then hesitantly pushed and pulled his chair closer to Buron's side of the table.
"Clouds!" Byron expostulated. "Clouds! What do clouds bring to mind!"
"Water," said Mary, eyeing the full water glasses on the table and tapping it with her knife. She wondered where the evening meal might be hiding.
"Rain..." said Polidori. "Water, rain,moisture... ahh, hmm... heavens' liquors..."
Byron rolled his eyes.
"Well, yes! Of course! All of that! But what do clouds bring to mind other than meteorology!"

Shelley took a stab at being compos mentis again.
"Ah, horror flicks?!" he blurted.
They all turned to look at him. Everyone was silent.

" 'Horror flicks?' " repeated Byron with interest and a comprehension of the most fragile kind.
"What, pray tell, dear Byssche, are 'horror flicks'?"

Montag said...

Shelley blinked at Byron.
"They are some things that flashed in front of my interior panopticon when I was drowning..."
"Ah...oh," said Polidori in his way: chiaroscuro, bright-dull, smart-dumb.

Byron wondered exactly what unfortunates... other than himself... ever had had Johnny P. for a doctor. Of course, he himself kept him around for some undefined foppery. People who had thought him a real medic were probably chin-strapped and buried under an Agnus Dei somewhere.

"I see!" said Byron. "Your life was flashing before your bally eyes!?"
"Not really," said Shelley, amazed that Byron had picked up "carney" slang. "It was more a case of the other way round. That is to say, my life was flashing forward, as it were, rather than backward."

There was a general silence... it greatly elevated the level of the conversation hitherto.

"So it was like a quantum leap, then?" Byron asked.
"Yes." said Shelley. "It was a quantum leap... whatever that is!"
Mary thought "Quantum... tantum... quot... tot..." recalling Latin lessons.
Polidori had fallen asleep.

Byron bolted from his chair, and grabbed his greatcoat and yelled for the tilbury to be brought up.
"Come!" he yelled to them.
"The game is astir!"
"Astir?" asked Shelley.
Byron considered. "Astir... about... afoot. Yes. Afoot. Come! The game is afoot!"

Montag said...

They sped towards the glowing ruins atop the mountain.

"The answer to the mystery was right before us all the time: the clouds! What form were the clouds?"
Mary ventured that they had resembled angels' wings, while Shelley said he had noticed a resemblance to his sisters' dolls at times, and to various barnyard animals at others.

"No. That's not what I mean!" said Byron. "We have remarked upon the peculiar form of this particular cloud formation a number of times."
This drew no response from his companions.
"It has something to do with tea cups..." Byron said by way of a helpful hint.
After considerable furrowing of the brow, Shelley answered "Tea cozy? They resemble quilted cozies with what-nots embroidered on them!"
Byron shuddered. Deduction obviously was not his friend's strength... nor was scientific observation; it tended more to the fanciful.
"No, not tea cozies; something else, something in intimate propinquity with tea cups."
Polidori muttered something about treacle tarts and clotted cream, but was immediately silenced by a glare from Byron. Mary wistfully added how nice it would taste right then.

Reading the Signs said...

But what Mary was really thinking was that someone really ought to tell the assembled party that tea cosy is spelled with an 's' not a 'z' (she, with her finely-attuned ear could hear the Americanisation) and she wondered, not for the first time, whence this strange and outlandish influence had come. Her life flashed forward.
"One day," she said, "someone will write all manner of strange things about us."
"There she goes again," said Byron. "That's women for you - always speculating the imponderables."
"Tell me about it," said Shelley.
"I thought I just did."
"Will you be quiet, please" said Mary. One can hardly hear oneself think.

Montag said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Montag said...

"Cosí," expostulated Byron. He thought it a shame that neither Shelley(1) nor Shelley(2) had applied themselves to Modern Languages sufficiently.

"Tè cosí... tea after the fashion..." panted Byron. They gained altitude, and it was becoming harder to catch one's breath...
There was something distinctly Roman about the patterns in the sky, and he strove to put in into clarity, and was not receiving much help from his comrades.

"I can barely hear myself think," Mary said.
He sensed she was succumbing to some sort of fatal synesthesia, hearing private thoughts, hearing colors, speaking in mute imagery instead of sounds...

He thought that if he got out of this imbroglio, he should go on a Grand European tour - Greece would be relaxing, he mused.

Reading the Signs said...

So he went there, joined a rebel army to fight the Turks, got ill and died. Which is a pity, but then all things must pass - as Mary knew full well She also died, as did Shelley and Polidory. Only Frankenstein still lives, howling around the villa during low season with a pain in his breast that he (being without language) has no way of identifying.

Montag said...

Alas, Wordsworth was just about to make his entry as a world-weary time-traveller filled with Weltschmerz and Zeitschmerz.