Curlew River

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Out of the woods they come, crunching their way across the shale in newspaper shoes, him wearing a Japanese kimono and her, all bones and marzipan, spitting out orange pits at right angles as she walks.

Our Girl stands in the Curlew River while the great grid of power station metal hums in front of her. Shivering, she stares at the grid, the cooling towers and that whole ring-a-ding-ding rhinestone scene they’ve got cooking over there.

The grid, that buzzing electric grid, that’s her life, see? Look, that’s Stevie, up there. She loved Stevie.

“I know you,” Our Girl whispers, breaking her trance when the two arrive. “You’re from the Mystery Plays at the Hornerby Assizes, I saw your tents being packed into rickshaws this morning.”

“Rickshaws, dearie?” Lady Marzipan says, her voice all reedy and rattly from her smokes.

“Never seen a rickshaw in all me life, despite me breeding,” KimonoMan cuts in, boasting a hoity-toity accent now, a put on, long yellow nails tapping the bark of the riverside oak tree he slithered towards.

“There was lots of confetti swirling about,” adds KimonoMan, “a right ribald scene if ever there was one, I doubt you could have picked us out.”

A slap for KimonoMan, right across the chops, for giving the game away.

“Remember hitching a ride on the sails of the Montefiore Windmill, Dora, in the snow?” KimonoMan says, edging the subject away from his increasingly haphazard memory.

“You’ve got to keep the sail tight between your legs,” he demonstrates, with an imaginary windmill sail, suddenly real, it’s cream canvas material rippling in the Middle Eastern breeze, sun glinting off the top of the Dome of the Rock, catching Our Girl right in the eye, blinding her momentarily.

“Relax and let your arms dangle when you reach the lower portion of the swing, your fingers might graze the ground, but don’t worry, you’ve just got to move with the mill.”

Drumroll, he performs a somersault, vaudeville style, to much applause. Confetti. Flowers. Curtain.

KimonoMan pops his head around the red velvet. Lordy, Lordy, an encore, tonight of all nights!

The pit band break into After You’ve Gone and KimonoMan waddles, Chaplin style, bamboo cane a-swinging, towards a revolving Billy Brownie Garden blackboard and bows.

“Vault forwards on the upward curve if you want to make it to the top again,” he says, as he slaps the blackboard with the bamboo cane, like Monty outlining the conclusion of a mission. “It’s worth it, if you want to see all Jerusalem in an eyeful.”

Lady Marzipan interrupts, hectoring Our Girl now, meanly, clearing the still-confetti-laden air with a waft of her hand. “Our lives are made of natural light not electricity,” she says. “Your man made power is doing you down,” lurching a hunched shoulder in the direction of the river facing station.

“You need to step out of your river and look a little to the left.”

To the left, well, to the left, we all look to the left. Even Herself gets out of the Curlew River to take a look to her left.

My God, an illusion! These people can do that. Just cover your eyes, Lady, look away, and they’ll be sneaky pete-ing along before you even know it.

“De dum-de-dum-de-diddly-dum,” KimonoMan sings, making out a melody for his song on a Den-den daiko.

“The trees were chewing peppermint gum,” Lady Marzipan answers, vamping.

“Down by the towers and down on the shale, they hung him up on two penny nails!”

On the tree trunk bark Our Girl taps out a rhythm to accompany their song, but she’s wearing silver thimbles on every finger, golden rings on every toe. Her rhythm, you see, only counts if she’s connected and she’s not a part of their ecosystem, she’s not even close.

 

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