Issue #28 May 2nd - 8th 2003
Sister Janice Comes Home
Ballboy: A Game Of Two Halves
End Of A Legend - A Tribute to Nina Simone
Sister Janice Comes Home
Sister Janice is the Friends Of The Heroes agony aunt. She used to be a nun, but after becoming involved in an accident at her convent involving a papal emissary; the mother superior; the convent dog and a bottle of 'citrus fresh' bleach, she decided it was time to find herself a new career.
These days she travels through the galaxies in a converted garden shed. Or she would, if it wasn't currently crash landed outside the drive-through window of a restaurant belonging to a well-known burger chain. Write to Sister Janice Slejj care of Friends of the Heroes. She will answer your problems and questions with the insight unique to a disco-loving alternative-gardening defrocked clergy member and cosmic adventurer...
Thrown out of a bloody hospital!
I told them they ought to be exhibiting Christian Mercy.. they didn't listen
I told them they ought to heed the parable of the Good Samarian... they laughed
I told them they ought to be careful, or I would get The Lord to smite them with an Holy Plague.
They told me they would call the police if I didn't leave.
Hello again my little voyagers of vivaciousness,
I have been away for some time. I have missed you.
It has been a mixed period, in the world of Retrospective Dance. At first I thought a broken leg might keep me from my Mission (saving the world, through the power of disco... for more details, or for a prospectus, consult here ) however, it seems the Lord has smiled upon my Glorious Crusade. I made many new friends in the Place Of Darkness in which I was forced to reside. I managed to show many Lost Souls the Way of the Lord Of Groove.
However, those bloody miserable bastards that run St. Mary's Hospital (I should have known they'd be difficult when I saw the name... far too nun-like. It reminded me of the Sisterhood Of Perpetual Dullness with whom I used to reside) seem determined to stand in the way of His Word, and my classes.
That hospital was a bloody boring place. You'd think they would be GLAD I was teaching their patients to Hustle. But no... that would be too much to ask... apparently, I was 'impeding the recuperation' of those around me. Okay, so it wasn't all that popular in intensive care, but they LOVED it on the psychiatric wards. God, they PAY some people to do this. Occupational THERAPY, they call it. Just because my therap-ees happen to be grateful enough to provide recompense in the form of whisky; small change and Isley Brothers records they said I was 'committing extortion, in a scurillous and reprehensible manner'.
Self-righteous bastards. It was like living with those horrible heffers in habbits all over again. I told them God smiled on those who helped others, and I sang The Lord Of The Dance as they wheeled me out of there. Or the bits I could remember. I never was all that fond of hymns.
And so, my friends of funkadelicia, back to The Shed. I find Roger from the burger bar has not only taken over my problem page (I'm sorry you had to witness that, my little droplets of divinity. I've seen better poetry in religious readings. God, I've seen better poetry written by NUNS..); that Roger from the burger bar has not only smoked most of my Alternative Garden (he says he did it to Deliver Me From Temptation. I told him he was a freeloading fucker, and that he'd better get watering what was left) but that Roger from the burger bar has also taken up permanent residence in MY Shed.
I was going to boot him out when I noticed he'd also hoovered, washed up, and mended the hole in the roof. So I let him stay.
Here is this week's letter
'Dear Sister Janice
I feel gut-wrenchingly guilty because I have horribly abused the trust that was placed in me. Whilst guarding the abode of an Inspirational Mentor, Cosmic Adventurer and Retrospective Dance Specialist, I used the opportunity to usurp their burgeoning career as a problem-solving executive and to inflict my half-assed, mind-numblingly inane ramblings upon the general public.
I wish I knew what a Sensitive, Serious, Sagacious Poet must do in order to make recompense.
Roger of Cheshire
(The new name is good, isn't it? Very...evocative. Like The Earl of Rochester..or......
Other Famous Poets)
P.S. I'm only writing this because I'm hard up and you offered to pay me. Personally, I thought my problem page was a creation of incomparable beauty. Such are the sacrifices the Sensitive must make in order to swim our way across the Channels of Eternity. Remember you offered me an extra ten Pounds Sterling to say that you were my mentor.'
Channels of Eternity? Get a bloody grip. And take some advice...ditch the Romantic shit. It isn't dignified, and it makes you look like a prick.
However, I believe that you simply need to speak to the person whose trust you have abused. Offer them an abject, grovelling apology, and reject any notion that they might pay you for doing so. They certainly sound like someone who is wise, kind, caring and cosmically aware. Perhaps if you encouraged others to sign up to one of the Enlightenment Through Retrospective Dance classes that this person might be running, you could fully assuage the justifiable guilt which would otherwise drag your soul into torment.
Also, if you could get us...er, that is... them a couple of engine parts... purely on the assumption that they might have a garden shed with a broken engine that they wished to launch back into space... that might please them. It might please them immensely. If they were that sort of person.'
Until next week, my little rubber fans and funkateers, when I hope to be flying once again, remember that we are One Nation Under a Groove... and endeavour to Get Down Just For The Funk Of It.
You'll feel better for it.
And don't let anyone stop you dancing.
Happy Beltane to all in the northern hemisphere! (Happy Samhain to those in the south)
Beltane (pronounced Bel - tin) is one of the four major pagan festivals, which are known as sabbats, and is often coupled with Samhain as the two most important sabbats of the year.
In Celtic terms, it falls at sunset on April 30th; for other pagans, it begins at sunrise on May 1st. For yet others, Beltane is May 5th, when the constellation of Taurus shows high in the sky. Perhaps the cunning plan is to start at sunset on April 30th and just party for the next couple of weeks.
It's a day for celebration - feasts, drunkenness, frivolity, a nice... er... cuddle with your partner - in honour of the Celtic sun god, Bel, and his consort the Maiden.
It was Christianized into May Day, which managed to remain a very Pagan festival! The Maypole was erected as a giant phallus in the centre of the village, as we are celebrating the emergence of the God into manhood and his coupling with the Goddess. This coupling will eventually lead to the birth of the Young God at Winter Solstice (don't bother counting, it's only seven months - he's a bit premature). Everywhere people pick posies of flowers or create garlands and wreaths; brightly coloured ribbons hang everywhere - they are celebrating the triumph of summer over winter.
Villages and towns elect their May Queen to symbolize the Maiden Goddess (and if you want to catch a glimpse of a truly Pagan ceremony, try nipping into a Catholic church at Beltane, it shocked me!), while the Green Man makes an appearance in a variety of guises to symbolize the God.
The festival marks the first day of summer and just about everyone should have noticed that the plants are growing, There are warmer days and the height of summer, with all the attendant lazy evenings in the garden, daytrips, holidays, festivals and fayres, isn't too difficult to anticipate now. Beltane therefore becomes a sabbat of pure hedonism. The hardships of winter have faded slightly in the memory now, while the easy times of summer are all to come. People feel happy to let their hair down, fill their glasses, eat in the sure knowledge that food won't be scarce, laugh, dance and play.
It's all ok now and, if it isn't, then it's sure to be within the next few weeks - the reassurance gives us renewed vitality and a weight drops off our shoulders. In short, Beltane honours and celebrates Life.
Many couples choose Beltane to handfast for a year and a day, though folklore insists that May is a bad time to marry permanently. This might be because marriages now might be assumed to be a piece of Spring Fever or 'a good idea at the time', born of a night in the greenwood being thoroughly romanced, not the stuff of longevity; however, others have suggested that May is the month of the God and Goddess's handfasting and the Lady is a jealous Bride, not wanting to share the glory... I can't say I subscribe to that one myself, but there you go.
In Celtic lore, there are two occasions when the veil between worlds is wafer thin, one of which is Beltane (the other is Samhain). Through it come the fey, the denizens of the Otherworld or us on our way to parallel lands.
This is a time to be careful in stone circles, if you plan on staying put in this world. Many legends, from the Irish coming of the Tuatha de Danaan to the Queen of Faery's taking of Thomas the Rhymer, all took place at Beltane. Traditionally, rowan branches were placed on doorsteps and windowsills to protect the home against Otherworldly visitors, while food was left out for the fey to partake.
I wish you all a happy Beltane!
Ballboy: A Game Of Two Halves
Wembley Stadium, June 15th 2013, around 9.30 pm.*
Sunlight creeps through the partially opened roof of the multimillion pound stadium. Despite careful planning and years of building the stadium malfunctions on a regular basis due to a technical fault in the remote control for closing the roof. This had been rumoured to have been caused by a complex error in the programming of very high tech microchip which was not designed to withstand the climate changes brought about by global warming. Other, more sceptical people speculated that the remote simply got lost down the side of the settee on a regular basis.
Highbury and Islington Tube station, 18th April 2003 around 7ish**
Two girls and a boy take shelter from the bright sunlight of the day within the darkest building that they can find. Luckily this happens to be The Garage which is the venue for the ballboy concert that they had previously decided to attend. A faint mumbling can be heard from the boy and one of the girls. Something about being “much too early as usual”. The other girl appears to be too excited to notice this. A big smile covers her face alternating with a slight nervous biting of her lower lip. It is not entirely apparent but adrenalin is pumping through her causing her stomach to lurch and her hands shake ever so slightly. The seeing of bands she loves always disturbs her slightly. Will the reality live up to the dream? Will she be able to listen to their music in the same way again?
Wembley Stadium, June 15th 2013, around 9.32 pm
The bored looking girl seems to have left the scene. Careful observation reveals that she has pushed her way to the far side of the stadium and is cowering and hoping not to be spotted by the short looking boy. She needn't worry however, as the short looking boy has turned his attentions to the well dressed 17 year old.
The Garage, Islington, 18th April 2003 around 10ish
Slumped at the side of the garage three people looked at their watches. They exchanged glances and fiddle with cameras. They drink drinks and visit the toilet. Eventually the girl can contain herself no more and herds her friends to a more prominent position where actually watching the band would be possible. They wait. She tries not to hop about anxiously. It did not always work.
Wembley Stadium, June 15th 2013, around 9.33 pm
The short looking boy is taken a back:
The Garage, Islington, 18th April 2003 around 10.15ish
“you know that something's going to happen, you know that something's going to happen”
Wembley Stadium, June 15th 2013, around 9.34 pm
“what did he play then?”
The Garage, Islington, 18th April 2003 around 10.20ish
Gordon McIntrye: “this is a very short song with a very long title- I lost you but I found country music”
The song begins mixing with the laughter. A sense of good humour pervades as a lone voice and guitar reverberates around the dark walls of the garage. At least one member of the audience finds it hard to believe that such clear voice can exist outside of their imagination.
Wembley Stadium, June 15th 2013, around 9.35 pm
As the sun starts to set on the partially opened roof of the multimillion pound stadium ballboy appear onstage. The conversation between the short looking boy and well dressed 17 year old is cut short much to both of their relief. As the gig begins with “I wonder if you are drunk enough to sleep with me tonight” the crowd start to jump and sing along. The well dressed 17 year old's mind is filled with memories of warm sandwiches and grazed knees, and long division and he finds it hard to equate his teacher with the person on the stage…he doesn't quite mange to do this.
The Garage, Islington, 18th April 2003 around 10.55ish
Ballboy leave the stage only to be ordered back on by a crowd demanding more. The girl who is no longer feeling anxious or nervous and very relieved that the band are playing “A day in space”. Her mind is filled with a images of a house in Dundee, of washing dishes, and the first time she had heard this song and she finds it hard to equate these people on stage with the band she first heard on a portable CD player… she doesn't quite manage to do this but she knows that it won't affect her enjoyment of the band in the future.
*parts of this story have not been entirely accurate due to the expense involved in time travel and the limited budget of the friends of the heroes.
Derek sat on the pebblestone slope that separated the patch of rhodendrons from the plot of hardy perennials. He watched as the sweet briared rose tilted towards the setting sun. Rosa rubiginosa. Heather taught him that. She knew the latin derivative of everything in the garden. It was hers really. There's the welted thistle, Carduus crispus, drawing a jittery line around the edge of their empire. Her favourite, lily-of-the valley, the Convallaria majalis, a seduction of sorts, drawing you in, too weak to say 'no'.
You liked the summer best. You would often return home from punching holes in numbers or drilling holes in walls to find her setting the dinner table in the garden with the help of Niall, and you would make sure she didn't see you, winking at Niall as you crept up behind her and grabbed her around her waist, flinging her up in the air, her excitable shrill echoing through the drowsy amber sky, and Niall would be in fits of laughter screaming "put her down dad! put her down!" and, breathless, you would, a deep breath now, and an evening kiss, a collision, then one for Niall too, until he grew too old and adolescent to be kissed, but that would be a while yet.
"Dad! You coming in? They all want to know where you are."
Where are you? Sat in Heather's garden, growing old. Seventy now. The years were kind to you but Christ how you miss her, your Heather.
It wasn't supposed to be like this. Nothing is supposed to be how it is. You remember the years just after the war, one night falling onto her parents bed, the vows so serious in intent even then, that if one went then the other would follow. "You'll never be alone again Heather" you said, lured by the promise, the deep pools of her dark eyes.
You'll never be alone again.
"Dad! Come on!"
"I'll be there in a minute son. Just give us a few seconds."
He was a good lad, Niall, and he's turned into a great man. He wasn't planned. He was three years too early, but it was then that you learnt that life doesn't follow logic, and you vowed never to take your work home with you. When she went you lent on each other but you feel he carried more of you on his shoulders, much more infact, and you know that, were it not for Niall, you would have ended it all within a minute of her- head in oven, gassed in the front seat, a leap off the multi-storey- to you, it wouldn't have mattered one iota how you went, it was the fact that you had to get there, to be with her, your Heather. Most of you had gone already, buried with her, all that was left was this physical entity that stayed in bed all day if it could, crawling into and out of half-dreams and reality, wishing to God they'd hurry up and take you to her. Because without her, what's the point?
"You ok dad?"
Niall helps you to your feet, you lean on him as he pulls you into the rabid mass of humanity, and, arms outstretched, you grit your teeth and smile into the night as the band strikes up 'happy birthday'.
End Of A Legend -