Monday, 29 May 2017

BROTHER BEATALI'S GARDEN






BROTHER BEATALI’S GARDEN
by
BARRY VAN-ASTEN

 

                  What I know of the divine sciences and Holy Scriptures, I learned
                        in woods and fields. I have no other master than the beeches and
                        the oaks.

(Saint Bernard of Clairvaux)

 

 

There was no stain upon the old man; there was neither bitter envy nor petty jealousy to corrupt the natural wrinkles of his aged flesh; each deep line upon his jovial face told a tale of many years spent out of doors toiling beneath the heat of the sun and the cold of the winter months, battered by all the elements. He was a pious man without sin who tended devotedly and lovingly the garden of the Benedictine monastery as he had done for sixty-two summers. Each morning Brother Beatali inspected the lush gardens of the Monastero di Santo Benedetto which nestled in a sun-soaked valley beneath steep vineyards in a province of Southern Italy, to see which new buds had opened and which of his cherished children needed special attention. He would pick the soft ripe fruit for his fellow brothers to enjoy with their meal and take an armful of cut flowers from the rose garden into the monastery to bring God’s ‘wonderful glory indoors to saviour and to reflect upon nature’s beauty and bounty!’ Brother Beatali was a simple man of faith with simple needs, as all the brothers were and he delighted in his day’s work and never felt it was a hindrance to his spiritual progress for he fully believed that the work aided him and that a day in the garden was more spiritually uplifting and rewarding than a month of devotional prayers! Although he was old and quite frail physically Brother Beatali had the sharp mind still of a young man on the cusp of great learning and a life spent beneath the warm rays of the sun had hardened not only his skin which was tanned like some ancient exotic fruit but his acceptance that true evil inhabits the world of man which is reflected in nature; it also strengthened his natural capacity to love all God’s wonderful creatures! Rarely was he disturbed in his gardening duties unless he called for assistance from a fellow brother to help with some heavy or tiresome work which his withered muscles could not accomplish any more. Amongst the flowers and the shrubs, he was utterly selfless and each kind act towards the tender plants rewarded him with sore limbs and aching muscles for his devotion and he praised God for it! He would go on until his last breath summoned his soul away from his precious garden to God where he would tend the celestial gardens!
 
One day, after he had been harvesting vegetables in the garden with Brother Excelsis with whom he had been talking of ‘Il Martirio di San Sebastian’ and who carried the heavy load to the kitchens, the old man sat down upon the bench in the garden, as he often did when he felt a little tired and watched the bees busy themselves amongst the loveliest of fragrant blooms and saw how the birds hopped between the newly dug soil, picking at the supply of worms and other things that crept and crawled and wriggled and slithered and squirmed upon the earth; he looked along a narrow avenue of the garden and could see the glorious marigold borders and the peonies and the lupines in the shade of the garden; beneath a statue of Saint Benedict was a stone basin overflowing with cool water which was during the warmest part of the day inhabited by small birds cleansing their feathers from the dust; further still beyond the herb beds and medicinal plants were the orchards and the bee hives filled with thick golden honey for the Brothers to gather and spread upon warm cut loaves; his eye was directed down a short vista which led to the gnarled and knotted trunk of the walnut tree and drawn to a small wooden carving of Christ on the cross of suffering – he  looked upon all this as a gift from God and sighed knowing that one day he must leave the garden but while he rested and remained on earth he felt complete contentment as the songbirds trilled before him.
He supposed that he must have fallen asleep on the bench beneath the cherry blossom tree for he felt as if time had no passage and there was a feeling of great apprehension in the air which seemed to ring with the strange sound of a bell being struck which note seemed to stretch out into the distance, rising in tone before falling away. Suddenly he heard a voice from behind him call his name and he looked round to see a figure of a man come to greet him –
‘Brother Beatali, be assured that I am not here to direct you from your labours, for I am here to instruct you upon your sinful ways!’
Brother Beatali was shocked at what the stranger said and demanded to know with whom he was speaking and how he came by the garden which was strictly for use by the brotherhood.
‘I am to you an Angel of the Good Lord Almighty God, as you know me and I am everywhere for there are no boundaries; I would expect a more intelligent and higher evolved being to bow down before such a messenger of God, but I have no expectations of you Brother Beatali!’
‘Why should I believe who you are and what you say? You may be an evil spirit sent by the Devil to torment and tempt me from my faith in the Lord!’ said the old man. Then, the Good Angel of God came close to the old man and whispered in his ear – ‘Now do you understand?’ said the Angel.
The old man sat open-mouthed for what had been said was never disclosed to any living soul and the fact that the Angel knew such personal details proved undoubtedly to the Brother that indeed he was an Angel of the Good Lord!
Then the Angel continued: ‘There is no devil! Mankind’s ignorance in such matters proves that they are of a primitive mind and not worthy to worship God Almighty!’
‘My life has been one of devotion and prayer yet you call me a sinner!’ the old man said with a look of surprise and helplessness.
‘Yes, for you have sinned greatly and mankind for thousands of years has been guilty of such sins which must be cleansed!’
‘I do not understand!’ said the old man who had now fallen to his knees in supplication.
‘Do you really believe that humanity is the singular most intelligent species upon the earth? How absurd! Humanity was created to serve the major species and to assist it to flourish but mankind has persistently desecrated the higher life forms of this world!’
‘To what are you referring as the “higher life form”, for we are unaware of any greater intelligence than ourselves on this world or any other for that fact!’ 
‘You have devoted your whole life to the nurturing and destruction of that life form; your hands have wrung life from God’s children on earth and you say you don’t know! It is the plant kingdom of course, the kingdom that you have systematically and ruthlessly plundered and murdered!’
Brother Beatali was mortified and stammered: ‘But the plants are incapable of movement and speech, how can they be more intelligent than mankind?’ the old man asked.
‘Speech is the solidified excreta of thought, it is base and primal and not intellectual for those of a higher intelligence communicate by thought without the need for words of sound and it is common throughout the universe and all the universes that movement hinders intelligence and is unnecessary for the sedate body grows in a more refined emotional and intellectual capacity. So you must see that you humans are merely there to aid and serve the master species, the master species that you remove from the earth, that you twist and contort into shapes of obscene fancy in the name of “horticultural”, and interfere with in the name of “Botany”; life forms that you cut down and torture by putting them into glass vessels and watching them slowly die!’
‘My love has been a perfect blessing of love for the flowers and all the things that grow in the wild and you say that all this time I have been torturing and murdering my children!’ The old man said with tears in his eyes.
‘Since the time of Eden of which parable was given to you as a warning to end your wickedness when the great and splendorous garden of the world was created specifically for the plant kingdom to enjoy and flourish it was decided that they would need a species to care for them and to serve them dutifully and so was created the lesser-brained and physically unrefined inferior body of man! There have been many Adams through the millennia and all have accumulated to the desecration of the garden from the first taste of the forbidden fruit to the wearing of the vine leaves upon the obscene genitals, humiliating the king of all the climbing plants! Man has become a loathsome egotistical parasite upon the earth cutting down the forests and exploiting the earth’s resources and in my world we refer to you as savages! It is true you have accumulated certain basic knowledge but you have not the capacity to use it wisely for wisdom is a very rare thing upon the earth!’ and with that the Angel left the old man to his thoughts and feelings of utter bewilderment and despair!
The old man looked decidedly miserable when Brother Excelsis returned to him in the garden but Beatali said nothing to him and remained silent; there was an indescribable rage of hatred and anger rising in the good Brother which had never risen in him before and he spoke to no-one all evening and all night.

The brothers rose early the next day as they always did expecting their basket of fruit from the garden but when none was forthcoming they decided to look for Brother Beatali. And so Brothers Sylvanus, Excelsis and Abbot Peter Magdaveda, left the monastery in search of their loyal and devoted brother Beatali! Upon entering the walled garden the despondent scene of disruption and malevolent disarray of the beautiful garden struck them speechless. As they stood there looking round they could see smoke rising from a bonfire which had the remains of the shrubs and the cherry trees upon it; further they could see the stumps of the apple trees that had been savagely hacked down and heaps of cut roses and other flowers pulled out by the roots thrown unceremoniously onto a hill of dying and dead blooms, in fact, nothing was living in the garden whatsoever, everything had been destroyed. The brothers could only assume that Brother Beatali had gone completely mad to inflict such injury upon his beloved garden and was undoubtedly influenced by some evil spirit which had possessed him and during the night he tore down the whole garden in some sort of insane rage. After further investigation Brother Beatali was found lying amidst a heap of lilies and dahlias, cold and undeniably dead! It seemed his heart had given out following the utter destruction of the garden and so the brothers went away to pray and ask God’s forgiveness for what their brother had done before the task of clearing the garden and re-growing the fruits and the vegetables and the lovely roses began in earnest once more!

 

Saturday, 20 May 2017

LUCINDA


LUCINDA
A CAUTIONARY TALE

BY BARRY VAN-ASTEN

 
By the figurative mystery of this holy vestment, I will clothe me with
the armour of salvation in the strength of the Most High, ANCOR,
AMICAR, AMIDES, THEODONIAS, ANITOR, that so the end which
I desire may be affected, O ADONAI, through Thy strength, to Whom
be praise and glory for ever and ever.

[Prayer at Vesting. Lesser Key of Solomon.]

 

I have given more than enough of my time to the progress of mankind; to the little insignificancies that occupy the brain and the sorrows of the flesh and the false fluidity of mind. Perhaps out of some fool’s errand I imagined I had come to the end of my time on this planet dwelling amongst small things and appeasing my soul to the relentless thought that life expires with little care to what remains of us. Humanity had shown me nothing but cruelty and hatred and I tired desperately of it and wanted solitude and peace and beauty. And so, with little more than a snap of my fingers I disconnected from it, or at least did my utmost in trying to. I had worked hard for a hungry and tiresome manager in a small establishment in the city devoted to the corruption of society through the means of acquiring information on certain individuals who diligently broke the law. Like some caged animal with electrodes attached to my head, day in and day out answering to imbeciles who worshipped nothing except the Lord God Almighty and the Bank of England! (1) I escaped with my life and what’s left of my sanity and what money I had put aside. Fortunately some distant yet ‘much loved’ and now ‘dearly missed’ Uncle had sought the good sense and decency to expire and leave his inheritance to me!  I had never known him but you can bet that I made the appropriate emotional gestures before collecting the magnanimous sum of money! I bought an old narrow boat that was moored on a quiet stretch of the canal and feverishly made it ‘sea-worthy’ so to speak. I could have easily bought a new boat or had one made to my own speculations but it takes a long time for new things to acquire character and this old boat had it in spadefuls! There was a profusion of dark wood inside which gave it the appearance of a sombre and thoughtful space; there’s just something magical about dark wood with the grain clearly showing like some ancient fossil, for it was a living being absorbing energy and it still contains that energy… as a child I could sit for hours just peering into the dark history of the wood as if it were a book open before me and it would often induce some sort of trance state, but I digress, to complement the dark wood I added colourful curtains and furnishings and framed pictures on the walls that also burst with colour but there were a few prints and illustrations I was fond of too, and along each side of the boat, in every available space actually, I had made bookshelves, again with wood stained with a deep, dark varnish to be in keeping with the rest, which contained all the authors I had read and wanted to read, such as Lawrence and Chaucer and Dickens, and Dante, amongst others. They were with me and so I did not feel alone in the long hours after dark, where a log fire kept me warm and candles burned in glass lamps. Not that I ever really felt alone for I was such a being who as a child delighted in my own company and was never bored and never idle for my mind was easily turned to occupations of an artistic nature and reading had been my greatest love and still is! I felt as if I was on the precipice of some great adventure and I would live a simple life upon the water. Of course I had many interests to fill my time, such as watercolour painting and writing poetry, if it could be called such and academic interests such as Greek mythology and studying the esoteric arts. In fact, it was through my interest in Greek mythology that I came to name my boat ‘Prometheus’. Yes, my life afloat would be a perfect idyll.
I was a man of routine, each morning rising at eight and breakfasting before taking a walk and returning to continue some artistic venture I was pursuing such as painting or writing that I had begun. I kept a journal and in it I would write my thoughts and activities and all the secret little intricate eruptions of the mind that flower throughout the day; it was my companion and my confessor! Yes, it was a glorious life and little by little I grew more in my spiritual mind. Since very young I had been inquisitive about nature and religion and God and throughout my youth I made an examination of various systems and philosophies and after much deliberation and inner torment I came to the realisation that magick with its complete responsibility upon the practitioner was where my heart had drawn me! I had devoted much of my time to a strange and curious little book about the Goetic Art of Solomon and I came to study its forbidden lore, in fact it became somewhat of an obsession! (2)
Some months passed and my days were an endless rapture to me. During the day I would go on adventures and make sketches and studies of interesting things I found and during the evening and night I would write and study further my esoteric interests, beneath the boundless beauty of the moon and the stars.
Love had always been anathema to me, oh don’t get me wrong, I wasn’t some hideous monster without the capacity to love for my young mind was simply flooded by images of love and romance and it gave me the appearance of a bit of a dreamer I guess! There were a few occasions when I thought perhaps this would be the one and maybe this time I shall feel something more than just desire and actually behold something substantial but I was painfully wrong every time. There was one special person who entered my life and touched the outer limits of my soul and flourished dearly in my heart many years ago when I was just escaping the flush of my youth and I felt for the first time that magic which envelopes all life and gives meanings to dreams – she was everything to me! To think of her now is to trespass upon some sacred and beautiful vision for my heart will not relinquish her delicate wonder and my brain will not break free from the spell she cast over me!
As I said before I had made a long study of occult practices over the years and for many days I had immersed myself in Goetic Theurgy with the intention of performing a ritual and so I prepared the instruments of art according to the Lesser Key (3).

 
‘I invoke and conjure thee, O Spirit Gomory, (4) and, fortified with the power of the Supreme Majesty, I strongly command thee by BARALAMENSIS, BALDACHIENSIS, PAUMACHIE, APOLORESEDES and the most potent princes’ etc. (5)

 
The ceremony went accordingly and there was no need to resort to further conjurations and constraints as the spirit came obediently and willingly and communication was brief. To say anything more beyond these few suggestions would not be appropriate for ceremonial magic is of the High Art and should be treated accordingly just as any priest would refrain from diluting the magnificence of the mass.

 
‘O Spirit Gomory, because thou hast diligently answered my demands, I do hereby license thee to depart, without injury to man or beast. Depart, I say, and be thou willing and ready to come, whensoever duly exorcised and conjured by the Sacred Rites of Magic. I conjure thee to withdraw peaceably and quietly, and may the peace of God continue for ever between me and thee. Amen.’ (6)

 
Many weeks passed after the ritual was performed and I quite simply forgot all about it, and immersed myself in other occupations and interests which is the correct attitude to assume as any thoughts in that direction may hinder the work and the natural flow of the magical current. And so, with no more thoughts concerning the operation, life passed by like some dream, a dream in which I saw no-one and no-one saw me, for I was completely, to all intents and purposes, adrift from the world of humanity!
Late, one evening, I had just finished a painting of a little church I found in my wanderings when I heard a strange sound outside, on the side of the bank beneath the trees. Usually I would not concern myself with such trifles but something made me desire to know what was occurring outside and I felt a deep compulsion to investigate; I went to the stern and as I opened the door to look out I could see the lonely figure of a young woman of not more than twenty or so years in appearance, standing there in the rain, looking into the water.
‘Are you alright?’ I shouted to her but she did not appear to hear me.
I could see then that she was in some distress and was unable to answer. I went out onto the bank. Although it was quite dark beneath the trees I could see she was slight of build with a pale face and golden hair which seemed a little dirty and dishevelled. She wore a long coat which was tattered and strangely she had no shoes upon her feet.
‘Are you alright?’ I repeated, to which she replied, ‘I should not be here!’ and she let her head fall forwards and began to become unsteady upon her feet before she suddenly shook all over and seemed to regain her composure.
It was a cold night and so still having the remnants of the Samaritan in me I gestured her towards my boat and assisted her from the bank and onto the stern. Inside the fire was aglow and I offered her something to eat and drink. She seemed quite dazed by something but for all my questionings on the subject of who she was and why she was standing beside the waterside she would not or refused to speak of it. Eventually, when she began to get warm and drank some hot tea she began to speak a little:
‘Sorry to impose upon you’, she said, in almost a whisper, by the warm glow of the fire and she told me that her name was Lucinda, that she was nineteen years of age and that her father had thrown her out of his home for some reason or other that she would not disclose. I did not press her for an answer and told her she was welcome to take a hot shower if she wished and that she could stay for tonight as it was so cold outside, against my better judgement, but even I would not see some poor soul thrown to the elements when I could offer assistance. Ordinarily I would refrain from getting involved and giving assistance for many times the actions of the innocent are confused and looked upon as evil deeds which in some instances genuinely are evil, but for the most, there are fragments of compassion for one’s fellow human being, even if in small doses which do not appear too often! (7) And so Lucinda slept on the little pull-out bed which ordinarily was my sofa.
The next morning, I rose at my normal time to see the bed empty and Lucinda standing in the doorway.
‘It’s a beautiful day. Thank you for letting me stay, I appreciate your help’ she said quite despondently. There was a look about her which troubled me greatly, an indescribable loneliness, but I did not refer to it.
‘It was nothing! I did what anyone would do! Stay and have something to eat if you haven’t already?’
‘I haven’t eaten’ she said shyly, looking from my eyes, ‘you’re very kind!’ And over breakfast Lucinda slowly told me more about her life and the circumstances which led her here. Her eyes were large and sad and not once did a smile cross her face as she told me about her father who drank and didn’t understand her and never had any affection for her. Lucinda’s mother had passed away when she was a small child and so she never really knew much about her. It wasn’t long before a huge wave of emotion overcame Lucinda and she could speak no more through her tears. I said that I understood her predicament as I had also lost my mother when young but fortunately I did get to know her. I asked her what she intended to do now and she was at a loss for an answer. I said that she may stay a while, a few days or so until she feels stronger and is ready to go and sort her life out. The gratitude on her face almost resembled a smile mingled with tears and sadness, like some image of the young Christ, so much so that I felt an overwhelming strain of compassion upon me and was near the point of tears myself and so had to turn away. Seeing this, she put her hand in mine and looked long into my eyes without a word, there was nothing to say, it had been said by her eyes!

Over the next couple of days Lucinda took a great delight and interest in my painting which was very flattering and she professed some proficiency with a pencil too, sketching my likeness from time to time like some child shielding her work lest it be seen by a horrible adult! But she overcame her initial shyness and a semblance of trust was established and she redolently showed me her doodles and sketches, some of which were quite humorous and made me roar with laughter. It was in these moments that I saw her smile for the first time and seem happy; her eyes would be filled with a wondrous light and her gold shock of hair would fall to meet them in an attempt to hide her unmistakeable beauty from the world! I came to know her more and more and delighted in her company and any mention of her leaving I would sweep aside with my hand and say ‘maybe tomorrow’, but I knew ‘tomorrow’ would never come, or if it did I should feel very unhappy and lonely. Strange, I had never thought myself to be lonely until Lucinda entered my life that night, nine days ago, and to not be in her presence was to me insufferable and it seems time had no meaning for I did not want it to end. What was happening to me? A mature man of two and forty years whose every thought turned to Lucinda and her happiness and my happiness like some eager schoolgirl wanting to please the young man of her dreams! I knew full well what was happening to me but just did not want to admit it – I was falling in love with Lucinda!

As I said before, there was something strange about Lucinda, something that I could not put my finger on for try as I might to see beyond the beautiful radiance that she cast like some star, some new thought would suggest that I was being silly to suppose there was anything unusual about her. The only thing I did know for sure was that the simple pleasure of being around her, her youthful vibrancy and magnetic energy that pulled me closer and closer towards her sparked a new philosophy born within me, a philosophy of beauty, compassion and forgiveness for the human race, something that had died many, many years ago!
I suppose I must have always had these feelings, deep inside me but dismissed any idle fancy in that direction as mere unwanted fantasy; I know now that I have always buried the truth within and failed to come to terms with my own personal crises, until now!
I could not tell her how I felt and my only confidant was my journal to which I poured sonnets and songs to her name like some love-struck schoolboy or third-rate romantic poet (8).  What a fool! But love is a strange beast! I felt myself catching glimpses of her doing mundane things such as drinking her tea or brushing her teeth and thinking what a wonderful and sensuous young woman she was and I longed to feel her skin next to me and taste her sweet passionate lips on mine. Was it wrong to have such thoughts?

One day, I think it was the fourteenth day of knowing her, in fact, I know it was the fourteenth day of knowing her for I could relate everything to that time and could count the minutes I had known her for every day was like a year in her presence and I marked it well, anyway, on this day I came back from my walk in which I had taken a few photographs in the churchyard and I found Lucinda sitting at the table with my journal open in front of her and she was reading a poem I had composed about my feelings for her:

 

Lines to Lucinda

 

Deep in lustful wonderment
That echoed to my prayer;
I marvelled at the sacrament
And Lucinda was there!
Nights devoured by love… you came,
And days a fragrant joy –
Like a mad moth to the flame
Of Lucinda, was I!
And we rejoiced to the surrender
Of lips, a tremble to the kiss;
To delight in love so tender
And the heights of earthly bliss!
But the touch of your caress
Is God’s kiss from afar!
Lost in your sweet youthfulness –
I surrender to thee - Lucinda!

 
My world fell from under me and I raged at the sense of betrayal and that a great trust had been broken and that she should not have gone behind my back and… but Lucinda, remained calm and with her heavy-lidded eyes just looked at me and said ‘I feel the same way about you too but I was afraid to tell you as you have been so kind and I did not want to ruin our friendship’. At that moment my inner rage quelled and we both looked bashful at each other and smiled like silly children as she flung her slender arms around me and kissed me passionately. I was in a whirl of confusion, one minute I was angry, the next I was in ecstasy with this pale and beautiful young woman holding me tight and drowning me in a wave of kisses, locked in sensual surrender to each other. I knew nothing of time and I felt her hands stroking my hair as she kissed my face with tears of joy in her eyes. We embraced for what seemed an eternity and before long we were slowly and tenderly undressing each other and I felt no shame as I caressed her eager young body, pale and smooth…. And we stood together, naked in each other’s arms, our flesh tingling as one. She rained kiss after kiss upon me and I felt her hand slide down the arch of my back and caress me gently. Those beautiful red lips were ceaseless and my brain went whither I know not where, as if a curtain of white silk were gently wrapped around it. She pulled away from me and kissed me on the lips. Lucinda sat over me and she lowered her lips once more to mine, and we kissed long and deep. I didn’t want it to ever end as I brushed the hair from her eyes to see her beautiful young face. She showered me in kisses each more passionate than the last. ‘Lucinda!’ I whispered, again and again, as she leant back and I felt myself fall deeper and deeper into her soul. The rhythm of the boat gently swaying added to the magical delight we were weaving and our bodies pressed tightly in mounting waves of joy and ecstasy. We were bathed in each other’s passion as I pulsed all over with ecstasy.
There was hardly time for pausing as the boat rocked to and fro in waves of delicious ecstasy. We continued throughout the night in each other’s arms for there was no time for sleep and the next day we were late up and we rejoiced in our thoughts together as we kissed and ascended once more to the height of passion! She was my girl, my lovely girl and the love between us was immense!
We made love at every opportunity and not a night went by in which we did not worship at the altar of our lust. We became more daring and made love in the churchyard one night beneath the moon and it did not matter that it was cold for we were hot with indescribable passion. And soon after we were even bolder and entered the church one afternoon, closing the door behind us as we sought a quiet corner to be together. We kissed furiously as we worked some magic spell within the sanctity of ‘God’s House’. I put my lips to her and felt a sensual wave sweep over me. We shrieked with pain and pleasure, there in that little church! I gazed up and my attention was caught by a little silver crucifix depicting Christ’s torment and sorrow yet I felt nothing and mocked his abstinence for the lure of earthly flesh and the delight it gives. We crept from the scene of our love-making like two drained vampires. I often imagined the vicar giving his sermon, oblivious to the pagan magic evoked within his place of worship like some unholy baptism!
Sometimes we would wander through the woods at midnight and I recall dancing by moonlight, naked and unafraid like a god and goddess of old in some ‘other-worldly’ enchantment; a furious dance of death between the trees in an open clearing that ended in our surrender to passion’s sacrament as we kissed and explored every inch of our bodies, anointed by moonlight. It was at this time that she really opened up to me and told me about that night on the bank of the canal where I first glimpsed this young Beatrice, this beautiful Artemis, like some fabled water nymph. In fact, her father was neither a drunkard nor a heartless man for it appeared he was a clergyman and his young daughter, a great disappointment to him of whom he disapproved of her ways and fancies, did not fit into his life with the church, and so brow-beaten by Christian doctrine and torn between the love for her father and for her pagan beliefs and earthly delights, she chose the latter (as if it is a choice, but the hand of fate) and she walked away from that life seeking another, but in desperation, she had come to the end of her rope and was between life and death the moment I caught sight of her; on some vast precipice from which she was about to fall. But my hands reached out to her and faith in humanity was restored (on both sides I might add)! And so we lived life aboard the Prometheus in a perfect whirl of love and devotion and nothing disturbed our world. We painted and composed long dreadful poems together and laughed and loved and cried. I did not realise at the time what an absolute fool I must have seemed but I did not care and she was young and she made me feel young again and the spirit was strong within me to withstand any abuse that came my way, but we lived the secret life for who but ourselves could understand such a strange relationship and the world of age between us!  Not that we cared what people thought; what the rest of the dreadful world thought in fact for we had risen beyond such concepts as condemnation, but the secrecy was a form of our own device, a self-created deception in the magical sense which added to the supreme magical quality of our love much as catholic priests had to hide themselves away following the sacred mass which was forbidden, this ‘secrecy’ intensified our actions and our feelings!
Weeks were a whirl and nights were an endless dream… We savoured every moment together as if it would be the last and the lust between us increased in intensity and passion!
Lucinda was drawn to pagan practices and theory and she took a keen interest in the esoteric subjects I had been studying and wanted to learn more about it. She devoured my books like some hungry soul thirsting after knowledge and she seemed to grow in stature, lean and immense. She was the Priestess and Goddess that I worshipped –

 

‘In the moon of the woods, on the marble mount,
The dimpled dawn of the amber fount!’ (9)
 

Time passed as in some idyllic dream until life seemed to hold no meaning for me for she held me in complete fascination and suddenly there was a tangible darkness about her where there was only a radiant light, a darkness which was indescribable, yet fatally irresistible!
Subtle changes had occurred yet I closed my mind to them and instead of confronting these I changed along with them and by gradual steps I descended into greater darkness, a darkness we both shared.
We had been performing some rituals together and we had no notion or care of consequences all of a sudden and we drifted further and further into terrible horrors of the imagination.
There was a ritual we had devised to summon some awful deity to sight. I don’t know what possessed us but we were being directed and manipulated like pawn pieces in a deadly game of chess. Perhaps my judgement was clouded, in fact I know it was but I was dealing in devilish things I should not have dabbled with! Looking into her eyes became like looking into the pit of Hell and our sexual excess became more and more outrageous and we loved with abandonment known only to those of the darkness who prey upon the living. In fact, I cannot speak of all the things we did for fear even now of reprisals; you could say we had exhausted every sin and were inventing new ones to break! I hungered for her; I ached for her but I could not hold myself from falling, the temptation was too great and Lucinda was the greatest temptation and the greatest sin of all! She had eaten into my soul and my every thought and action was centred on her alone! Hard as I tried, I could not stop this tornado I was riding! She had corrupted every fibre of my being with her lust like a vengeful demon and I could not help but think that my dealings with the Goetia were behind it all and that Lucinda was possessed of some being I had awoken!
I searched through my books and came upon an exorcism which seemed appropriate and I made some preparations while Lucinda slept. With an eager heart I began to repeat the words of the exorcism:

 
‘O most merciful God, Whose power hath no limit, Whose dominion is supreme over all beings, so that nothing can possibly be estreated from Thy rule by apostasy; behold we have sinned against Thee, we have provoked Thy most just wrath’ etc. (10)

 
The next morning I awoke early to find Lucinda not in bed and not on board the boat. I wondered where she had gone and went outside to look for her but could see no-one. I became very fearful for all her belongings were gone and there was nothing to even show she had ever been there at all! Days passed and still I did not hear from her and I sank into the depths of despair! My world had fallen from a great height of love and devotion and over time I realised the full consequence of my actions! I never saw her again for she had disappeared as quickly as she entered my life and to this day I do not know what happened to her! I sold the Prometheus and cast my lonely figure into the world again!         

 

Si vous cherchez la morale à cette histoire, il n'y en a pas un!

 

 

NOTES:

 

1. One is said to destroy one’s soul and the other encourages financial ruin!
2. The Lesser Key of Solomon the King or ‘Lemegeton’ which gives instructions for the evocation of the seventy-two spirits who were confined in a brass vessel and cast into a deep lake by the King of Israel.
3. see The Key of Solomon the King (Clavicula Solomonis) translated and edited by S. Liddell MacGregor Mathers. 1889.
4. Gomory is a powerful duke that appears as a beautiful woman, wearing a ducal crown. He discovers past, present and future, as also the whereabouts of hidden treasures; he procures the love of women and especially of girls.
5. The First Conjuration.
6. The License to Depart.
7. ‘Honi soit qui mal y pense’.
8. When one mentions ‘third rate poets’ one is never far from thinking about William Wordsworth!
9. The Hymn to Pan by Aleister Crowley.
10. see the Manual of Exorcisms by the Abbe Eynatton. 1678.

Sunday, 19 March 2017

A STONE ROSES EARLY CLASSIC


THE STONE ROSES
TRADJIC ROUNDABOUT
 
 
 
 
The early Stone Roses sound has a raw energy which harks back to the days of punk, John Squire and Ian Brown were into ‘The Clash’ and a local Manchester band called ‘Slaughter and the dogs’ with their classic song ‘cranked up really high’. These influences can be heard on the band’s early recordings. One of the earliest songs written in 1984 is ‘Tradjic Roundabout’ and already it shows Ian’s aggressive punk singing style and John’s brilliant guitar structures. The song captures the passion and the vibrant energy of those early gigs, along with other songs such as ‘Fall’ with its ‘I’m not your darling, darling/I wanna see you falling!’ and ‘Tell me’. I love the song and think it’s the best song from their early period and I have had a go at transcribing the lyrics which I hope are correct:

 

Tradjic Roundabout
The Stone Roses

 

‘Witches, warlocks and vulture-men too –
Martin Luther had nothing on you!
He had a dream; you’ll have a baby, baby,
Will you cope, I don’t know, maybe.

Your CIA in Mothercare,
They’ll screw you up cos you’re not all there!
I see submission in a million eyes,
Dream-weaving habits are still telling lies!

Ah you’re not so gifted at all, at all.

Bitches, basements, all over the land,
Just checking pulses with half-dose in hand!
You think you’re righteous cos you’re smoking some shit,
And I’m the one that pays for it!

Ah you’re not so gifted at all, at all,
And we’re not so gifted at all, at all.

Woo!

And you’re not so gifted at all, at all,
And we’re not so gifted at all, at all.’




 
The song was originally recorded in 1985 for The Stone Roses first album which was produced by Martin Hannett. The album was not released as the band was not happy with it. The album was eventually released in 1996 as ‘Garage Flower’ and the track listing for the album is:

  1. "Getting Plenty" – 4:04
  2. "Here It Comes" (Brown/Squire) – 2:39
  3. "Trust a Fox" – 3:03
  4. "Tradjic Roundabout" – 3:12
  5. "All I Want" – 3:39
  6. "Heart on the Staves" – 3:19
  7. "I wanna be Adored" (Brown/Squire) – 3:29
  8. "This Is the One" (Brown/Squire) – 3:41
  9. "Fall" – 2:49
  10. "So Young" (Brown/Squire) – 3:18
  11. "Tell Me" (Brown/Squire) – 3:52
  12. "Haddock" – 0:14
  13. "Just a Little Bit" – 3:08
  14. "Mission Impossible" – 3:48
 




THE STONE ROSES
Reni, John, Mani and Ian
from meeting them at
Wolverhampton Crown Court
Thursday 26th April 1990

Saturday, 18 March 2017

THE LENT LILY


THE LENT LILY

BY

BARRY VAN-ASTEN

 

 

Lady Amelia Cotgrave-Stuart had been making preparations all morning for her garden party. Since the loss of her husband Major Sir Andrew Cotgrave-Stuart thirteen years ago she had thrown herself into social engagements and was very fond of entertaining guests who were on the social ascendancy. The Cotgrave-Stuarts had been a much devoted couple and the Major’s death was a great blow dealt to her Ladyship for they had had the perfect arrangement for a marriage – he served in his Regiment abroad and she was the perfect and most dutiful wife in England, seeing each other twice a year. The unlikely product of this perfect union was a son, namely Aloysius Nightingale Cotgrave-Stuart in his eleventh year. It was a gloriously sunny morning and the birds were singing in the trees as spring had arrived uncommonly early in Chiswick.
Lady Amelia’s first guests to arrive were the celebrated poet Oscar Wilde and his good friend Lord Alfred Douglas, whom Wilde referred to as ‘Bosie’. Lady Amelia greeted Mr. Wilde and his companion cordially and invited them into the drawing-room with its huge French windows overlooking the garden and she turned to Oscar,
‘Mr. Wilde, I hope it won’t be to your displeasure but I have invited the curate, Reverend Thomas Steadman, are you familiar with him?’
‘Indeed I have had the misfortune madam,’ Wilde replied, ‘for I was once asked reluctantly to attend one of his abominable sermons. It was a splendid tirade if I remember and I recall that Reverend Steadman is the only “man of the cloth” with the ability to make the glorious Passion of Christ sound like the cloying death of “Little Nell”! It brought tears to my eyes, not tears of emotion and sadness but tears of laughter! And more recently I was asked to attend the Church Fete and give a talk on “Art and Aesthetics” and once more I was brought to tears, tears of joy in fact, for the good Reverend had left undone that which a gentleman never leaves undone, in the trouser region madam! I had to escort myself from the Church Hall for I was quite purple in the face in floods of uproarious laughter!’
‘How disgraceful!’ said Bosie.
‘Yes, well, and what do you do Lord Alfred?’ enquired Lady Amelia.
‘As little as possible as often as possible! In fact, I am rather strict about my daily regimen – I spend enormous hours exercising my ability to be completely idle and doing absolutely nothing!’ said the handsome Bosie.
‘Lord Alfred’s attitude is very common amongst the young I’m afraid Lady Cotgrave-Stuart, he pleads abject poverty to anyone who will listen to him and his father the Marques of Queensbury boasts of his exorbitant wealth to anyone who will listen to him, though they never speak or listen to each other!’ explained Wilde.
‘That is a great shame Lord Alfred! Mr Wilde’, said Lady Amelia turning to Oscar, ‘they tell me you are the wealthiest man in all of London!’
‘That is incorrect madam’ answered the clean-shaven bard, ‘for that auspicious displeasure falls upon the awful obnoxious head of that poisonous impostor Mr. George Bernard Shaw who delights in advertising his remarkable and vulgar wealth as if he were of papal occupation; he tirelessly parades his theatrical inability all across London! I make it a point, in fact a religious oath, to never see any of his tedious plays and to cut him dead whenever I am unfortunate to be in his presence. It is the least one can do for the sake of art!’
‘Money is the root of all evil’ retorted Bosie’ ‘and when Oscar comes into his inheritance he intends to be thoroughly wicked with it!’
Her Ladyship escorted the two gentlemen into the garden and pointed out the spring beds and borders. ‘What a charming and delightful garden you have your Ladyship! Such beautiful flowers! I often wish that I were green-fingered you know!’
‘Are you fond of horticulture Mr. Wilde?’
‘Only at a safe distance madam and in small doses, for nature can be truly horrific; I find nature invariably falls short of one’s idea of perfection – only man achieves absolute perfection!’
The young boy Aloysius had been busy chasing Lady Amelia’s cat Clytemnestra when he suddenly stopped and walked up to Mr. Wilde and said ‘they tell me you are a poet sir!’
‘Who is spreading such vicious lies and rumours about me?’ retorted Oscar fiercely, ‘I shall bring charges against them!’
‘It is common knowledge’ answered Aloysius ‘and public opinion says that…’
‘I never repeat any knowledge which purports to be common’ interrupted Oscar, ‘and I never listen to public opinion! It is invariably wrong in its judgements and vastly exaggerated! No, I am in fact what is known as a “living and breathing poem” which is what all great poets strive to achieve but fail utterly to accomplish! Are you fond of poetry my young Narcissus?’
The boy looked quizzical and answered with perfect nonchalance – ‘No, I find it is a lot of nonsense about something and nothing all wrapped-up in fancy words!’
‘What a delightful and perceptive young thing you are! Bosie, I fear the boy’s young eyes have been exposed too soon to that old satanic show-off Swinburne for to form such an opinion of poetry he must be truly damaged beyond belief and the precious bloom of his ignorance has disappeared irretrievably! Tell me, who is this charming yet somewhat melancholy Aristotle?’ said Wilde, turning to Lady Amelia.
‘That Mr. Wilde is my son Aloysius’.
‘Does he bite?’ expressed Bosie.
‘More to the point’ continued Wilde ‘is he housetrained madam? Remind me Bosie to inform dear Mr. Dowson that his eager public anxiously awaits his next volume of “nonsense about something and nothing!”’ Lady Amelia frowned as Wilde continued,
‘He is wise beyond his years and a great credit to you Lady Amelia!’
‘Thank you Mr. Wilde, he really is the most well-behaved young man in all of London I believe and I foresee great things ahead for him!’ said a proud Lady Amelia.
‘How unfortunate Lady Amelia! That will all change when he comes of age, do not be despondent madam!’ Wilde said, bowing his head towards the little gentleman.
‘He has great prospects,’ gushed Lady Amelia to Oscar, ‘he is at Eton and is destined for Oxford I am told!’
‘Many a flowering mind has been crushed and ruined by an Oxbridge education and Eton simply lets anybody through its doors these days! Imagine my consternation to learn that my butcher has one of his offspring who is a young Etonian!’
The group walked a little further down the garden and came to a chair with a man seated upon a cushion, ‘what have we here Lady Amelia, a rare bloom indeed?’
‘My father gentlemen, may I present Lord Rothwell!’ Lord Rothwell was oblivious to the intrusion and unable to greet the company. ‘You must forgive his Lordship’ said Lady Amelia, ‘he is meditating!’
‘Does he often snore when he meditates?’ enquired Mr. Wilde.
‘Continuously, for I find the deeper the trance, the louder the snore!’ returned Lady Amelia.
‘I often find the same thing happening in Church, for the pews are filled with people busy meditating; they must attain a very high level of spiritual enlightenment for the snoring is positively cacophonous!’
Lady Amelia took Bosie aside and asked him if it is true that Mr. Wilde is truly a genius. ‘But of course’, Bosie answered, ‘he would take great delight in stating the fact, as he does, often, but between you and me, the man is all surface and no substance, for it is I who am the real inspiration behind his genius and without me he would surely starve! Society craves men of genius and Oscar craves society’. Just then Oscar pushed his quivering smooth chin between Lady Amelia and Bosie and having nonchalantly lit his cigarette, which was a true artistic endeavour in itself, paused and said ‘did I hear mention of “society”? It is to my eternal shame that society is so simple to enter, yet so very difficult to exit – much like marriage!’ Lady Amelia found this amusing and said so which in turn amused Bosie for he was so easily amused.
‘Have you never thought Mr. Wilde’ asked Lady Amelia ‘of growing a moustache, you would look so distinguished!’
‘I’m afraid I haven’t the energy or the patience for such matters madam – elegance must be instantaneous or not at all; I am not prepared to wait for nature to produce what art can do immediately!’
‘There is nothing “instant” or “immediate” about your appearance Oscar, for it is the result of a life-long obsession with your own vanity!’ Bosie declared.
‘Nonsense’ spouted Wilde, ‘in fact, I make it a strict rule to spend a minimum of three hours in the morning, not a minute less, on my attire, a rule which I repeat in the afternoon and again in the evening before dinner! To return to the moustache madam, I find it is the last refuge of a man with something to hide!’
‘But the curate has a moustache!’ Lady Amelia said.
‘I rest my case!’ Wilde said gleefully.
‘And so did my late husband, God rest him!’ her Ladyship said, through pursed lips.
There was an uneasy silence which was broken by the tea things which were brought out into the garden by the maid and a plate of delicious looking scones with cream and jam were laid on the table. As well as the tea accoutrements there was a decanter of Sherry which the two gentlemen accepted instead of the tea! The maid then informed her Ladyship that the curate had arrived and was ‘securing his bicycle to the railings for Chiswick is a notorious hotspot for bicycle thieves’ as the curate had said and ‘one can’t be too careful can one?’
‘Do help your selves’ gentlemen!’ said Lady Amelia as she and Aloysius went off to greet the curate. Oscar and Bosie confided together before her Ladyship and the curate joined them – ‘Did you ever meet the Major?’ enquired Bosie of Oscar. ‘Unfortunately not, I am told he was an excellent conversationalist when not in the company of his dear wife, which was more often than not!’
‘The boy is quite exquisite is he not, a fallen angel in the making don’t you think?’ Bosie suggested, adding ‘strange that he is only eleven years old and the Major passed thirteen years ago! Surely there is some discrepancy there?’
 ‘Yes, a fair Ganymede indeed! There have been rumours in that location as to his origins, some say he is the result of an illicit liaison; it is an age-old predicament whereby the aristocracy fall for the romantic entanglements of the lower classes. Vulgarity is a trait exclusive to the upper classes and poverty is a condition peculiar to the lower classes – both are exceedingly ugly! As to the boy, the matter is never mentioned!’ Oscar poured himself another Sherry.
‘I do hope you become exceedingly drunk Oscar’, said Bosie, grinning, ‘you’re always brilliant when you’re wonderfully tight!’
Lady Amelia and the curate followed by the angelic Aloysius joined Wilde and Bosie and following introductions they all sat down to tea.
‘Mr. Wilde’ said the curate, ‘I have been reading your poems and I must say they really are quite beautiful!’
‘Ah curate’ intoned Wilde, ‘if I want flattery I go to my tailor for he seems to be under the false impression and outrageous misconception that flattery will result in my paying my tailor’s bill! Of course it is quite the opposite for the more he flatters me the more I spend and the longer the unpaid bill becomes! No, for the sake of dignity curate, you simply must read Baudelaire!’
‘Are you a religious man Mr. Wilde?’ enquired the curate.
‘With no disrespect to your good self sir, the foundation of the church was built upon hypocrisy! I consider myself a lapsed pagan for I have lost my faith in nature! But I suppose one could call me an apostle of aestheticism!’
‘Oscar’s a true heathen curate, whereas I have a great admiration for the finer points of Catholicism!’ Bosie declared.
‘May I tempt you to one of my cucumber sandwiches Mr. Wilde?’ said Lady Amelia pushing a plateful under Oscar’s nose.
‘Usually I yield to temptation madam, it is much simpler than resisting it but on this occasion I shall refrain!’ Wilde stated.
‘Dear Oscar suffers chronic indigestion with cucumbers, in fact; he has an abhorrence of anything green when served upon a plate before him!’ Bosie informed her Ladyship.
‘Quite true Bosie, in fact I react outrageously when presented with anything limp and green and edible because it so reminds me of all the hideous defects in nature! Salad and attempting to read Wordsworth bring me out in ghastly boils so I swore before the Almighty Ruskin never to digest either! The only green I am able to appreciate are jade stone, my green carnation and Absinthe which my physician prescribes and strictly insists I take before, after and instead of meals!’ Lady Amelia was uncertain as to what direction the conversation was turning and offered the curate her sandwiches one of which he took just to show that he did not prescribe to Wilde’s outlandish notion of nature! ‘I don’t think you are being quite sincere Mr. Wilde’ said the curate ‘and I think perhaps you are making fun of me and my profession!’
‘Not at all curate’ Wilde said brushing the curate’s arm with his hand, ‘I am being quite serious. If one is virtuous one doesn’t seem to get a look-in with the Church but the minute one starts sinning it’s like a red rag to a bull and one can’t move for dog collars and cassocks making claims upon the soul! Once one breaks beyond the bastion of the ecclesiastical dog collar, you will find a guilty man taking refuge! The Anglicans are very good at pointing out the wrongdoings of their congregation and the Roman Catholics have cornered the market in suffering! The sad fact is the crucifixion has been done to death!’
‘You are a most conceited man Mr. Wilde and no doubt that is part of your charm!’ exclaimed the curate.
‘A man whose charm is always on the offensive is to his own detriment most offensive!’ Wilde said joyfully!
‘I really must agree’ interjected Lady Amelia ‘I don’t believe I have ever met such a conceited man!’
‘She has a point Oscar!’ said the tipsy Lord Alfred who had been filling his glass several times from the Sherry decanter.
‘At last, chivalry rears its unwanted and vastly overrated head!’ Wilde said with a nod and a wink towards Bosie and then turned to Lady Amelia - ‘Nonsense your Ladyship for I have it on good authority that only last season you entertained that old rascal Dickens and a more conceited man never walked the earth!’ Mr. Wilde sat back in his chair quite content with the verbal jousting.
‘I must say’ Wilde said slowly, ‘there is no greater time in all the year which equals Eastertide, everything seems so new and delicate! Do you not agree curate?’
‘I concur fully Mr. Wilde yet it is indeed a busy time for the church!’ the curate snorted helping himself to a jam scone.
‘Lent has such a curious fascination for me. Do you know the story of the Lent Lily?’
‘No!’ said Lady Amelia, ‘do tell it!’
‘It was a time of great bloodshed when the Roman army occupied Britain. The story of Christ was told by some early Christians and those that were caught were swiftly put to death. There were no churches as we have today for these followers of Christ’s word to congregate in and worship so they gathered in small glades and copses and celebrated with tales of Christ. They came to look upon the Lily as a symbol of Christ and his suffering for it appears at the time of Lent. The Romans were not happy with these unorthodox meetings and many were broken up and the followers dealt with, given the most inhumane punishments which satisfied the senate that order was being kept in Roman Britain and religious thoughts were not aloud to flourish and flower among the primitive race of the Britons! The Romans learnt that these early Christians had venerated the Lily and heaped symbolism upon it concerning the death of Christ and they were ordered to cut down all the Lilies in the land which they did. The following year the Lilies grew once more and once again the early Christians worshipped the flower for its ability to appear, like the physical resurrection of Christ! And once again the flowers were destroyed by the Romans, cut down and uprooted and burnt throughout the land! Eventually, when the Romans were driven out of Britain the early Christians noticed that the flower appeared during Lent and on Easter Day seemed to sacrifice itself, and as if by some miracle it would re-appear the next year, mirroring Christ’s suffering and resurrection! And so the Lily became known as the Lent Lily!’
‘I’m not sure that’s quite true Mr. Wilde, at least I have never heard that story before!’ the curate said with a playful smile upon his face, as if his leg were being not just pulled but twisted into the bargain too!
 ‘Tell me’ continued Lady Amelia, ‘aren’t you afraid of being found out?’
‘Madam I am always being “found out” by bill collectors – my only fear is that one day I shall be “found in” and expected to honour one’s debts!’
Just then the maid returned to inform her Ladyship that Mrs. Harribel-Jones had arrived. Mrs. Harribel-Jones was an inveterate gossip and had been rather looking forward to meeting the famous Mr. Wilde.
‘I hate to inform you Mr. Wilde’ said her Ladyship rising to greet Mrs. Harribel-Jones and taking him aside ‘and I would not mention it in front of the others, but you have a spot of jam decorating your necktie!’
‘I am aware of it madam for I put it there myself with my own fair hands. Don’t you think its colour exceptional, like the blood of Christ glistening in the sunlight! Think nothing of it madam, it is a mere affectation; it shall be “all the thing” next season!’
Mrs. Harribel-Jones, a large ‘un-corseted’ lady with the complexion of thistles joined the party and was delighted to be introduced to the great Mr. Wilde.
‘You must forgive me Mr. Wilde for being a little late as I had an appointment with my oculist!’ explained Mrs. Harribel-Jones.
‘Are you a practitioner of the dark arts madam?’ enquired Mr. Wilde.
‘I think you are mistaking my oculist for “occultist” sir!’ Mrs. Harribel-Jones said a little confused yet triumphantly.
‘Forgive me madam’ Wilde said courteously, ‘as it is such an easy mistake to make, for the one opens one’s eyes to the glories of irreligious immorality and the other turns a blind eye to pious respectability!’ Mrs. Harribel-Jones delighted in Wilde’s company and they talked a little on Shakespeare, declaring that if he had taken more consideration over his plays he may have become more well-known and that Huysman was ‘positively all the rage in Bohemia!’
The subject turned towards literary criticism and Mrs. Harribel-Jones asked Mr. Wilde if he would kindly look over her unpublished memoirs and review them with a design on publication.
‘Thank you madam’ said Mr. Wilde, ‘but I do not receive manuscripts. I am positively besieged by requests for my thoughts upon this book or my artistic impression of that play – it takes a certain order of being, malevolent by nature and of a tired, drab appearance, tarnished by the mud of ruined reputations to really do it injustice! These monsters are known in the theatrical trade and no doubt throughout all artistic avenues as “hypo-crits”!
‘Another more familiar name is “parasite”!’ suggested Bosie, ‘and let us not forget “philistine”!’ he added.
‘I really must disagree’ erupted the curate, ‘for where would we be without the careful eye watching over the intricacies of artistic expression to make sure it is suitable for society!’
‘God willing we would undoubtedly have “The Yellow Book” sir, and when I speak of God I am of course referring to Mr. Walter Pater!’ intoned Wilde.
‘Society should learn to mind its own business and to blazes with it!’ defended Bosie. The curate looked decidedly unsettled as Wilde whispered to Bosie ‘ah, the coup de grace!’
‘You must excuse my young friend here curate’, said Wilde steadying Lord Alfred, ‘he doesn’t normally react this way with Sherry, I think he has been mixing his metaphors again!
‘I think it is most inappropriate especially with Easter on the horizon and the good Lord on the cusp of once more shedding the darkness and flooding the world with light again!’ the curate said with his delicate, soft hands joined in prayer before him.
‘I quite agree it’s absolutely outrageous!’ Wilde said with a contemptuous look often found in pulpits. ‘I often read the lives of the Saints’ he continued, ‘and delight in their chaste and pious existence – they are such defining examples to us!’ Suddenly the curate warmed to Mr. Wilde for here was a subject that he knew well and was gracious to extend upon. ‘The Liturgy’ the curate began, ‘is filled with righteousness and suggests ways in which to live a fulfilling and worthy life sharing God’s word and…’
‘Yes quite’, interrupted Wilde, ‘but where is the story of Saint Judas? Why do we not hear about this neglected Saint? After all, he was one of the apostles and he was also doing God’s work as foretold by Christ when he turned Christ over to the Romans! That kiss of betrayal, man has been repeating it ever since! The fact that he died by his own hand should surely strengthen the case for Sainthood for he must have felt the guilt of the world upon him to take such steps and here we are almost two thousand years later calling him a “bad man” – forever condemned as a distrustful monster; he is a byword for everything disloyal and greedy, yet in my opinion he was the only apostle that truly loved Christ because he did not shirk from abandoning Christ even when Christ knew what he was about and forgave him for it! A chaque saint sa chandelle!’ The curate sat wide-eyed and without explanation. It was Lady Amelia who came to the rescue: ‘Attend to me Mr. Wilde’ said Lady Amelia, and after Mr. Wilde excused himself they walked together through the garden, leaving Bosie and the curate staring bemused at each other, and Mrs. Harribel-Jones feeding the ever unsatisfied stomach of Mrs. Harribel-Jones!
‘I am a little out of sorts Mr. Wilde for I received bad news this morning concerning an Aunt of mine who passed in the night and I was considering cancelling the garden party!’
‘How inconsiderate of the good Lady that she could not postpone the inevitable, Death is such an ill-mannered and unexpected guest! You have my sincere condolences madam!’ 
‘Thank you Mr. Wilde. It falls upon me of course to make the necessary arrangements as she never married and lived a quiet and simple life in Hastings!’
‘I find death and Hastings so inseparable for one does not exist without the other!’ said Wilde. ‘In fact, one never knows whether one is in Hastings or actually beyond the veil of life where there is absolutely nothing more than “quiet and simple” much like Hastings! She was fortunate not to marry, for I find all women attempt to make an immoral man virtuous which of course is their strength! But likewise, all men allow the fairer sex to make virtuous men of them and that sadly is their weakness!’
‘Talking of marriage Mr. Wilde, I have been contemplating that monumental position myself but I have many obstacles to overcome in deciding.’ Lady Amelia said discreetly.
‘Is there someone special madam?’ enquired Wilde.
‘No, not particularly; but I am unsure as to the period of widowhood and the question: have I made a good show of grieving my late husband the Major as to not upset society?’
Wilde looked a little quizzical and said ‘Madam I was not aware that there was a strict period of widowhood and I should think thirteen years quite sufficient to the memory of your dearly departed husband! Sometimes the oldest tree bears the softest fruit and we must not forget that we are living in an age of dignified splendour beneath a veneer of respectability that constrains the ordinary impulses; the world is changing madam and although Her Majesty Queen Victoria, whom I might add has set a precedence upon mourning, still darkens the throne and bathes England in a sea of black crepe and crinoline, there is an air of indifference and we are on a new threshold – Society must change with it or get left behind by it!’
‘I am glad to have your mind on the subject Mr. Wilde; I am not disappointed by your thoughts!’
Mr. Wilde and Lady Amelia walked back towards the company and Wilde could see that Bosie had slumped into a chair and was joining Lord Rothwell in his meditation, snoring very loudly indeed!
‘I am sorry your Ladyship but I think it is time my young friend and I departed for he has made a thorough exhibition of himself, much to the curate’s dismay and if it were not for the genteel ladies (and the charming Aloysius) we would have outstayed our welcome in the first few minutes of introduction! Come Bosie, once again your radiance has outshone me and there is nothing I hate more than being second best!’ Following the exit of the great man and the brilliant Bosie the garden party broke up, the curate went off to prepare yet another ‘abominable’ sermon, Aloysius ran off and chased her Ladyship’s cat Clytemnestra; Mrs. Harribel-Jones just managed a couple more scones before leaving and Lady Amelia Cotgrave-Stuart was left to contemplate the prospect of marriage!