I attended a salubrious function recently that was populated by some truly extraordinary people.
Set in genteel surroundings with armies of waiters, caterers, event managers and minstrels, it was a gathering of the great and the good of Bahrain, bedecked in their finest robes and most dazzling deep core crystals, who floated from one flute of juice to another sampling passing canapés with gay abandon as they nodded and smirked in collective appreciation of their own brilliance and lofty station. Across the manicured lawns and between the sharp topiary they took each other in at the speed of light, making on the hoof assessments, determinations, summaries and judgments as to who warranted a diversion of course and the honour of being addressed.
This meant that the body of elegance was constantly shifting, like a choreographed dance or military band as presented by the minstrels whose principal instruments were bagpipes and whose previous offering had been “Move like Jagger”. Given their massacre of that, I hesitate to say, tune the swirling lovelies had shifted away from the aural assault, the closest rolling away and away like emperor penguins taking turns against the Antarctic effrontery of so hideous a din.
The Tsar and Tsarina, stressed at the numbers who’d accepted their invitation, the rapidly wilting ice cherub, the absence of Ginger Ale and the weaponised table of cheese had downgraded their floating to a purposeful stomp, only pausing briefly en route to share a well mannered smile and a knowing shake of the head before proceeding, shoulder lowered, to the next potential ‘issue’ which sadly was, that one of the more mature ladies, resplendent in sky blue pastel twin piece, pearls and gold cuff, fragrantly Lillie of the Valley, in heels excessively sharp for grass, had inadvertently stepped backward too hard, in objection to the Stinking Bishop, and buried one of her Jimmy Choos, resulting in a spectacular reverse ironing board manoeuvre that struck a nearby Baron whose Prosseco graced the face of the Duchess in lace.
Safe behind the crennellated hedge, I juggled a plate of cheese balls, with a life of their own and my warm orange juice as an acquaintance and distant relative to the now defunct Marquisate of South East Bognor Regis, glided through the overheating throng as her consort stumbled along behind her jettisoning cheese balls and prawns in his attempt to keep up. “Daaarling” she purred, “How lovely to see you, are you well? How have you been? What of the family? Your father, brother, sister? Where’s that beautiful wife? Are you alone? Naughty! Naughty!” accompanied by a slap on the wrist that saw the end of my pathetic cheeseballing. Before I could answer, her ladyship was off on a tale of adventure and daring-do down the Nile, don’t you know, “as the great pyramid of Kuufu slipped by our port cabin , we sipped mint juleps and nibbled on the most exquisite...what were they Gerry?” before overburdened Gerry could answer she was off again, “Oh you must go! Have you been? Simply, Simply wonderful!”
I reached for my cigarettes and placed one in my mouth only to have it swiftly plucked away by a passing Count whose plucky bravado and confident gait spoke of a man in the prime of his privilege, the acme of his ascendance and the zenith of his indifference to rank and file, one may say, a total Count. “Yeah, so, just got meself a bit of a prancing horse, well truth be told 800 horses” as he smarmed and sniggered at his own wit, “she does nought to sixty in ‘bout 3 seconds. Gonna lay her up in the hols villa on the Algarve before we punch North with the Porto posse to play and pluck!”
Wishing to God he’d just do the decent thing, and die, I made my excuses as his bombast faded into the whoops and titters of unfettered success.
The truth, of course, is that everyone’s struggling to some degree or another. Desperately clinging onto a life once experienced, that is culling its adherents with alarming rapidity and savage efficiency. To last one more month in the old way before a tsunami of enveloped reality bites like a bitch and our life changes. The memories, once so frequently experienced, now consigned to rueful ignominy. Fickle fate stabs at our insecurity and mocks our attempts at resurrection, but the new reality won’t be denied. The nobility of the garden party ends in a two up, two down in Norfolk and a box of memories, where one may oft float in dreams of a life well lived