Friday, October 06, 2006

Some Motion Ever Unspent

Opened up into the captain’s cabin, the first thing is the first class table with pig diners troughing it all down their taffeta ties, pearls dredging through the soup, pulling forth shreds of oxtail, dragging out the croutons. The ship pitches. The soup splashes.

I, my voyage, I’ve been lashed to this mast for the past three weeks and the substance of rope, my only friend, keeps me here tied, away from the rutting flash pigs and the foam-filled degenerates. Below deck the burning boys are holding their arseholes wide open, raw red against the twinks of the black starred night. Rum red. They are a rage, those boys, and in fine drinking spirits. Mutiny is among them.

The ship pitches so the soup splashes and the diners have had quite enough of these intolerable conditions. One of them, with foam literally sticking out from his ears, raises his hand, polite to the last, and asks, one might think quite reasonably, whether the cocksucker responsible for putting soup on the menu will be emerging some time soon to deliver his or her apology? The captain, in reply, says: Eat your soup and shut the fuck up. Which causes me, here, cocking an ear to the proceedings, to chuckle noiselessly.

Voyages like this are really something aren’t they? You get the fresh sea air, the pitching of the boat, the pallyness of the crew, all the limes you can eat, the bonhomie of the captain, the ship’s artistes (magicians, singers, comedians, dancers, puppeteers, curtain raisers, stilt walkers, clowns etc.), the roundness of the life belts, the calmness of the poop deck, the barrels of lucky rum. The lucky, lucky rum.

The sea at night is calm, without pitch. You could safely tread its water, framed heroically by the giant silver moon, on your way to a step over the horizon and into the speckled blackness of the sea sky at night. You could reach up, touch the North Star, and feel your way home.

Hidden in the lifeboats, suspended high, a young boy and a young girl. Bertie and Geena, twins, on board for a new life in the new world. They have escaped recent clutches after the death of saintly parents and, well, there they are, under canvas, occasionally peeping up at the stars. Below, pounding the deck, slightly nervous, the kindly frame of Dickie Bow, the portly porter. Under his tunic, some scraps for the kids. They’ll make it together, the three of them, and Dickie will set Broadway on fire, a queen among the johns.

Fast to this mast, tight pink ribboned, I spy, through my telescope, a bob of yonder land. Inching our way, cutting through the sark, we alight – or rather, they, the crew and passengers, alight – onto said land and discover, to their dismay, that the land in question is not land at all but the back of a blue whale.

This blue whale is the same blue whale who, leviathan, was host to Jonah, a cage for Pinocchio. They are in there still, camp fires and fishing, all kinds of wooden games. This blue whale pitches and shifts and the pig diners, now with cups of soup, splash soup down their tuxedos and ball gowns. They can’t win, can they? The captain tells them, again, to shut the fuck up and drink their soup while he sorts this mess out.

The anchor is pulled and we - me, Bertie, Geena and Dickie Bow - float majestically away, waving at the bob of blue whale land as it blips the quickly sinking horizon.


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