Sunday, 23 October 2011


Today fortune did not grant me the company of the friends I desire so much to see, but my time alone allowed me to travel more widely in Second Life than I have in many years. Here is the beautiful and creative work of many, which I share with you. If you object to my appearing in every photo, it is only because I had no company on this journey. You are welcome to join me next time, and offer us someone else to look at.
Pink Dragons at Tuatha De Danann

Resting on high at Dark Moon

In the Wedding Chapel at Dark Moon

Wendy Xeno's wonderful Gilmour

Beyond one of the doors at Gilmour

Resting my heels in pastoral Mirrormere
Contemplating surrealism at The Path (Lea2)

D'où venons-nous? Que sommes-nous? Où allons-nous?

Warned to choose wisely, I made the worst choice possible. Pink!
I also visited the Misty Mountains, The Nest and Patch Thibaud's brilliant Majesterium. Pictures anon.

Saturday, 22 October 2011

Out of the blue!

 It is only the dead who do not return, and after two hundred and ninety years I think perhaps I cannot die. Salazar found me while I was drinking in a pub in Dublin and recalled me to his lighthouse in Cowell. He will have a photo to prove it, but I am so rusty at the controls I was unable to take a picture before we parted. We may live without poetry, music or art, but I would not live without friends. How lovely to see him and hear news of Osprey and Enjah and HBA. I shall be looking for you all!

Friday, 29 October 2010

An Alchemickal Account of the Devil's Wife, Part the First

Yolande Geoffrion appears to have given up her scribblings, sparing us her sentimental nonsense about the Comedie Italienne. If you wish to know the truth they were the most mendacious and quarrelsome band of foreigners ever to appear in Paris, vain in their estimation of their miserable talents and ridiculous in whichever society they appeared. They were clowns, exaggerated, perhaps deranged, and little loved by their audience. The Hotel de Bourgogne where they played was a magnet that transfixed the Parisian fool’s morbid fascination for the public display of powdered tarts and libertine asses, enjoyed primarily by effete dandies, cardsharps, poets and whores.

Everything bad about Ms Geoffrion she learned from the Italians, no doubt to the great dismay of her English-born bouquiniste uncle and to the shame of her parents so recently laid in their graves. The scoundrels M. Riccoboni and M. Biancolleli. were delighted to have so rapt and mutable a student. She learned to invent tales, to masquerade convincingly as a young man, to sing disreputable verse and to dance so delicately that she soon had young ladies swooning when she appeared as Radamus in La Perniad. For many years she attended the famous salon of Madame d'Épinay as the Comte de Ramon, and was a favorite in polite society until exposed for what she was.

Even her name is an affectation, for there is nothing young about Ms Geoffrion. She seems to have left us without compunction, but that does not surprise me, for she was ever the slothful apprentice, slinking away whenever she was out of sorts. Everyone pretends not to know where she has vanished (though I disbelieve M. Antfarm), I may yet shed some light on whence she came.

And though she might have earned my enmity and scorn for her general deceit, to which even I, Theophrastus Erasmus Fluxus, doctor of philosophy and divers arts, fell victim when I met her in 1741, you will see I shall relate her sad tale without the opprobrium her actions deserve, trusting in the reader’s sense of propriety and outrage to be her just and proper reward. I am aware she has spread tales against my reputation; these do not deserve so much as a sneeze in reply. My character and eminence are unassailable. But I would render an honest, factual account of her misadventures, that you, gentle reader, may be cured of Illusion and returned to the light of Truth and Reason.

I was not a young man then, though not as ancient as I am now, when several drunken companions dragged me to the Comedie Italienne against my protests. I did not by habit waste time listening to the fantastic plots and ridiculous characters of Moliere or Marivaux, who outdid each other making up ever more incredible farces that France has ever seen, insulting the intelligence of the Parisian audiences in abominable verse. Of the and clownish Italians. But as I say, I was pressed into attendance, for my fellows, robbed of their judgment by gallons of Burgundy, insisted that as an educated and discerning man I must come with them to pay homage to “la Columbine Divine.” From their description, she was the very epitome of French wit and dignity bravely holding her own against all manner of foreign intrigue, and God’s answer to every man’s desire. I replied with my own wit and dignity, “I know little about the desires of men like you, and am surely ignorant of any foreign intrigue. Kindly excuse me from your sober company,” but they laughed and repeated my words to each other, and it seemed to give them pleasure to do so in a bizarre accent that bore no resemblance to the way I spoke French, and to lock their arms around mine, one to each side, and to fairly lift me off my feet and out the door. Clearly they desired my companionship and perhaps wished to learn what I thought of their inane theatre. I submitted to their wishes for a block or two, but when I tried to slip away they redoubled their grip on me.

M. de Troy (for that was the name of my companion to my right) told me how the grandmother of our present Columbine had also played the role, as had her mother Eularia, who was married to the famous Harlequin Dominique. “Three generations of coquette in a figure that needs no corset,” he crowed in my ear, “she will make a little man of you, Fluxus!”

M. Auxelle (my left side companion) said, “Yes, she could teach you something you can’t learn in your books, Herr Doctor.”

The hôtel Bourgogne was a massive, gloomy building, the survivor of several fires and riots. The narrow rue Mauconseil was mobbed with carriages, horses, vain men and women of all stations, hawkers and urchins, the ever-importunate beggars hobbling on crutches, soldiers in justaucorps and bandeliers. We pushed through this crowd and into the steaming interior and found our box just as the house lights were being extinguished. Before we plunged into darkness I made out a seething crowd in the narrow parterre below, none who would have paid more than fifteen sous, overdressed couples in the opposite boxes above them, and everywhere the acrid smell of humanity mixed with the burning fat of the footcandles.

The heavy curtains were drawn apart with difficulty on a stage made brilliant by the light of hundreds of tapers that smoked and sputtered, threatening ever to plunge the entire building into an inferno. Looking back at the press of bodies that continued to surge up the narrow stairway we had just ascended, I despaired of ever escaping alive, and gave myself up to what I fully expected to be my last mortal pleasure, now appearing on the boards.

Wednesday, 25 August 2010

A catalogue of vanishing things

  1. waves upon the stony strand
  2. her lover's tears, all too soon
  3. parallel lines in perspective drawn
  4. the mist on the lake
  5. the call of the loon
  6. our heroine's innocence
  7. the tigers in bengal
  8. the bees in my garden
  9. the leaves in the fall
  10. academics who speak latin
  11. modesty and candour
  12. empty space on the bookshelf
  13. the basilisk, the salamander
  14. present mirth and present laughter
  15. idle time and solitude
  16. our dancing days, for better or worse
  17. the starried sky
  18. the weight of my purse
  19. the strangeness of the world
  20. the ice in my glass
  21. my nearsighted view and my spectacles (again)
  22. the time left to you
  23. my memory of your past
  24. the sun in the sky
  25. the ink in my pen

I have become a lost name once more, and keep the company of other rare and dwindling things; a shadow, a pin.

Monday, 16 November 2009


Paid a visit to the tailor's and ran up a bill...

Four and twenty tailors went to kill a snail,
The best man among them durst not touch her tail.
She put out her horns like a little Kyloe cow,
Run tailors, run, or she'll kill you all e'en now.

Upcoming Exhibition

While chatting with Enjah yesterday, I complained that for all my work representing artists in China, I had precious little opportunity to make use of my own talents. She reminded me that she had offered to give me a show at her gallery in Grignano, and so we decided to make it happen the weekend after next. Therefore friends, if you are able to attend you will be most welcome at Young Geoffrion's premier art exhibition in Second Life. Even now I am not certain what shall be exhibited, but I have at least fifteen paintings and may make a few extra goodies for the show.
I do hope it will be an opportunity to renew my acquaintance with many old friends, and celebrate our continued common existence in this hoariest of virtual worlds.

Meeting Brillig

I became reacquainted with Brillig Boomslang yesterday, and during a lovely conversation about the nature of reality and Buddhism, I discovered that he had lived in Beijing for four years, for a while within a few hundred yards of where I have been living over the past month. This intelligent automaton has studied literature, philosophy and psychology and now manages the creation of instructions for other automated machinery. He complained to me of some trouble being accepted into the Legacies 1891 Role Play society, apparently not on account of his mechanical construction but because of his sartorial sparseness, however his last message to me reported that he was attending their mandatory lecture, so one may assume he is now well on his way to becoming a full member of society. Well, they do enjoy playing Victorian bloodsucking bourgeois; one might expect a certain degree of prudery.

Wednesday, 11 November 2009

To bed! To bed!

"A friend is, as it were, a second self",
Quoth Cicero, and I add, a third and fourth,
As many selves as friends, each one more glorious than the first,
(Diminished by travelling alone, longing for companionship)
As craves the night for dawn and the ship for shore does thirst.

I haul my old bones home, and leave the weary road ahead,
And shall call upon you all in time, but now
To bed! to bed!

Saturday, 27 June 2009


I kept the figurine that the stranger in the cemetery had given me and studied it with enormous interest for as I have said it was an exquisitely carved and detailed model of a male figure as bare of clothing as any greek sculpture in a prince's antiquities collec- tion, and there were parts on that tiny body that I had never yet seen except on a child. When I first looked at it, it was reclining in a pose like that of the dying Gaul, head bowed and sub- missive, but later I found that I must have been mistaken and discovered the figure was in fact standing in a proud attitude. I placed it on the sill of my bedroom window that first night and fell asleep watching his silhouette, a seven inch shadow against the dull glimmer of the street lamps. But the following morning, to my utter astonishment, it had taken a seated aspect, and indeed every time I looked at it after the passage of a period of time, the figure was differently posed, now marching, now prone, now seated, now bending over and plucking an invisible harvest, now reaching for the sky. Never once did it repeat a pose and I kept it for more than a decade. I never once saw it move, and I tried to twist and bend its brazen limbs in my childish fingers without any effect. It was a solid compact of metal, immoveable and lifeless, but I came to think of it as alive, with a soul or a spirit imprisoned in metal as long as I beheld him, but free to clamber and run and dance in his immodest fashion whenever my eyes were turned or my attention elsewhere. I dared not show this miracle to my uncle or Madame Boucher, or even to Marie-Thérèse or any other soul, convinced they would take it from me because of his nakedness, and the lustful leer that looked out of his miniature visage. He was a disturbing guest, but my guest nonetheless, and I wondered about the strange man who had given him to me, and the meaning of it.

It occured to me then that the world is a changeable and variable place, its houses and roads and churches and bridges are in constant, fluid motion, but that we are deceived by their form and fail to see they are different each moment, like the waters of the Seine flowing endlessly within its banks beneath the Pont Neuf. So I began to observe the people around me, and paid regard to their variable humours and mercurial dispositions, of Marie-Thérèse particularly, as I came to know her so well, who seemed a different person from month to month, with new interests and passions each season. And with the help of that mute, metallic and miniature teacher, I began to notice the changes to my own person and body, and fancied that the Yolande of yesterday was not the Yolande of today, and these transformations, profound as they were becoming, were nonetheless unnoticeable from day to day as long as my attention slept.

If this creature of metal were alive, it never gave any indication that he could see or hear me, though I often addressed him in private and confessed to him my most secret thoughts and reflections upon the day's events. He lived in my pocket, or at my windowsill, or upon a shelf behind a book when, as I attained maturity, he grew increasingly lewd and priapic, and I could not bear to look at him. He seemed less a guest and more an emblem of my own sinful desire and guilty soul or partner to wicked thoughts that sometimes found their way into my foolish head. Much later I learned what he was and the evil he did me, but that tale must wait until I have recounted more of the man from whom I had him.

Friday, 26 June 2009


Enjah and Osprey have already blogged about our visit today to Drowsy, which was on Koinup's most popular spots this week. It is a beautiful, carefully made island full of dark storybook mystery, bears and wolves and dwellings slowly reverting back to forest, carpeted in moss. Look for the giant stuffed animals and the crocodile beneath the bridge, Mai Runo's maison engloutie par la mer with a collection of art about boots, the ruined gypsy caravans, the Fish King and the lonely coast. The work of several talented illustrators and designers from Japan have gone into this highly integrated work of art that opened after two months of hard work in June: skin and fashion designer BettiePage Voyager; graphic designer sato Yifu (whom I had the pleasure of meeting) and Nico Rotaru, owners of Kurotsubaki Store; Mai Runo, shoe designer and boot collector. These photographs hardly do it justice, so I urge you to pay a visit and spend some time there.

Friday, 12 June 2009


In the week after M. Panard and M. Fagan opened La Sylphide Supposee at the Théâtre de la Foire, my uncle Adraste took me back to the Théâtre Italien to begin my apprenticeship as an actress. M. Biancoleli's gamble with the farce at the Saint Laurent Fair paid back its principal with interest, for La Sylphide played thirty-four performances in the hôtel Bourgogne and became a staple in the repertoire of la Comedie Italienne. The old theatre was by now a familiar place to me, for Marie-Thérèse and I had become fast friends over the summer and together we explored its many mysterious corners and abandoned rooms, used to store the properties of productions long forgotten, though I never persuaded her ever to return to the stairway that led up to its terrifying tower.

We spent our days learning the four types of battemens, nine types of pas de bourrée, balloté, fouetté, caprioles and entrechats and the lazzi or comic routines of the repertoire. It was exhausting work but we were well fed and grew strong and supple. Our fair instructrice was the long-limbed and beautiful Mademoiselle Belmont who wafted over the stage floor in a cloud of lace and ribbon but could not sing in tune to save her life. She was tormented by jealous lovers and could never pick between them. She cried often. We were taught pantomime by our old Arlequin, M. Vicentini, who went by his stage name of Thomassin. His daughter Sidonie and son Joachim were about my age and studied at my side. Sidonie had an older sister Catine who had debuted earlier in the year. I learned to sing and declaim, and learned to speak Italian passably well, though all the players spoke French well. Our days were long and so I returned at night to my uncle's bookstore too tired to read, except on Sundays when I would take a little volume of poetry with me to browse in the cemetery after mass. Madame Riccoboni and her son returned from Italy the next year and returned to the stage with much celebration. I grew up among those happy, mad, passionate men and women, who wore down my reclusive and morbid solitary nature with their brilliant and implacable friendliness.

As I grew more graceful in movement and confident in conversation, I left my old hiding holes behind the bookshelves and under the tables of my uncle's shop for more companionable pleasures, walking with friends in the parks and joining my uncle in his coffeehouse meetings with other artists and performers. Before long I had a small circle of admirers of my own, solicitous young men whose names I no longer remember, whom I would meet secretly to exchange notes. They were every one a poet, dedicating their souls to Amor and their pens to Aphrodite and Isis in hope of inducting me into eleusinian mysteries. I would have been conquered if I were not already familiar with the sources of those 'original' lyrics, for they plagiarized the English mercilessly and I felt more pity than love for their small talents. But I could smile prettily and dance around them and confound them by replying in Tuscan. I don't believe I broke anyone's heart, because we were only actresses and they were knaves apprenticed to rakes and scoundrels. But we enjoyed our games of glances and chaste caresses and doubtful promises of fidelity, of being rêves poursuivis, pursued dreams, flowers of youth and beauty, the image of every brilliant quality and grace. We sublimated into sylphides ourselves, volatile spirits without substance or gravity, reflecting into the arms and vanities of the youths who loved us. We stole their affections and collected their laughter. We pirouetted mercilessly at the centres of their revolving loyalty, radiant suns that warmed their smiling lips across an abyss of nonchalance and the unapproachable stage. We banished tears and misery to the utter depths of the outside world, that place of streets and markets and flesh and grime, to inhabit the enchanted world beneath the chandeliers, its palaces and breathing gods, its banquets and musicians and everlasting applause. We were actresses of the Italian Comedy and for a magical age we ruled the world.


While minding my own business this morning, I was commanded to entertain a certain Monsieur Anchor Gascoigne, an acquaintance of Enjah's who wanted a story. Being prolix by nature (though some have described it as upwardly flatulent) I agreed. I think Enjah and Anchor contributed much to the tale with their interjections so though I may be breaking the terms of use, here is my story in its windy fullness.

[11:01] Young Geoffrion: Well, Anchor, how do you wish to be entertained?
[11:01] Enjah Mysterio: I have returned
[11:01] Young Geoffrion: Shall I tell a story?
[11:01] Young Geoffrion: sing a song?

[11:01] Anchor Gascoigne: witticisms will do it
[11:01] Enjah Mysterio: YES!
[11:01] Enjah Mysterio: tell a story!
[11:01] Young Geoffrion: Witticisms
[11:01] Young Geoffrion: A witty story?
[11:01] Enjah Mysterio: ODW
[11:01] Anchor Gascoigne: songs are aok too
[11:01] Enjah Mysterio: On Demand Wit
[11:02] Enjah Mysterio hums
[11:02] Young Geoffrion: Well,
[11:02] Young Geoffrion: Give me a moment to think

[11:02] Anchor Gascoigne: Tell us about your cousins.
[11:02] Young Geoffrion: My cousins? The ones we lost to the woods?
[11:02] Young Geoffrion: They went playing where they should not have gone

[11:03] Enjah Mysterio: what, no breadcrumbs?
[11:03] Young Geoffrion: Mira and Estrella
[11:03] Young Geoffrion: Breadcrumbless

[11:03] Enjah Mysterio listens, shuddering
[11:03] Anchor Gascoigne: let then crumble cake
[11:03] Young Geoffrion: It was a long time ago, when the woods were closer than they are today
[11:04] Young Geoffrion: every city worthy of its name had a wood nearby

[11:04] Young Geoffrion: and a road running through it.

[11:09] Young Geoffrion: Ah, well along the road, there are always travellers
[11:09] Young Geoffrion: and Mira and Estrella both fell in love with a courier
[11:09] Young Geoffrion: the same youth

[11:10] Anchor Gascoigne: How old were they?
[11:10] Young Geoffrion: who appeared one day at the edge of the wood with a message
[11:10] Young Geoffrion: but had forgotten to whom it was addressed.

[11:10] Anchor Gascoigne: I had imagined small but not so small it seems
[11:10] Young Geoffrion: No, they were fifteen and seventeen at the time
[11:10] Anchor Gascoigne: What a strange courier
[11:10] Enjah Mysterio: tender age
[11:10] Young Geoffrion: They got lost in the woods when they were very small,
[11:11] Young Geoffrion: and I had to find them,
[11:11] Young Geoffrion: but at the time of this story
[11:11] Young Geoffrion: they lost their hearts
[11:11] Young Geoffrion: to the same young man.

[11:11] Anchor Gascoigne: I bet he was in disguise
[11:11] Young Geoffrion: Perhaps he was,
[11:11] Young Geoffrion: he was dressed as a messenger,
[11:12] Young Geoffrion: with a green tunic and deerskin boots

[11:12] Enjah Mysterio: mmmmmmmmm deerskin
[11:12] Young Geoffrion: a slight blonde with long limbs
[11:12] Anchor Gascoigne: deerskin doesn't make very good boots, though - too soft
[11:12] Young Geoffrion: a swift walker and sweet talker
[11:12] Young Geoffrion: the uppers were deerskin,
[11:13] Young Geoffrion: the soles had been reshod.

[11:13] Enjah Mysterio: buttery uppers
[11:13] Young Geoffrion: well not as buttery as his words
[11:13] Enjah Mysterio: lol!
[11:13] Young Geoffrion: and he fairly melted the hearts of the two cousins
[11:13] Anchor Gascoigne: :-D
[11:14] Young Geoffrion: He claimed to have lost the address of the recipient of his message
[11:14] Young Geoffrion: It is hardly credible,
[11:14] Young Geoffrion: but the packet was worn and water stained

[11:14] Anchor Gascoigne: And their hearts were like tasy lobster, all buttered up.
[11:14] Anchor Gascoigne: *tasty
[11:14] Young Geoffrion: and I saw it myself.
[11:14] Enjah Mysterio chuckles softly
[11:14] Young Geoffrion: A blur of an address
[11:15] Young Geoffrion: but clearly two names were written there
[11:15] Young Geoffrion: that might have been Mira and Estrella

[11:15] Anchor Gascoigne: Yet he must've seen it before it blurred or spoken with the sender...
[11:15] Anchor Gascoigne: Ah
[11:15] Young Geoffrion: though it might have been Mona Destaigne
[11:15] Anchor Gascoigne: a magician
[11:15] Anchor Gascoigne: I trust him not
[11:15] Young Geoffrion: Or Manuel Estrangelo
[11:15] Young Geoffrion: We tried to think who it might be.
[11:16] Young Geoffrion: In the end we decided to open the packet
[11:16] Young Geoffrion: and read the content for clues.

[11:16] Anchor Gascoigne: Indeed the wisest course ;-D
[11:16] Young Geoffrion: Mira grabbed the packet from his hands
[11:16] Enjah Mysterio longs to hear the content
[11:16] Young Geoffrion: and laid it on the grass
[11:16] Anchor Gascoigne: precipitate girl
[11:17] Young Geoffrion: We four sat down together
[11:17] Young Geoffrion: not minding the dew that precipitated on the lawn

[11:17] Anchor Gascoigne: raining girls
[11:17] Enjah Mysterio: or fawns
[11:17] Anchor Gascoigne: and they reign as queens unless one reins them in
[11:18] Young Geoffrion: I was younger than my cousins
[11:18] Young Geoffrion: they ruled my affections
[11:18] Young Geoffrion: they opened the packet

[11:19] Anchor Gascoigne: what did the sealing wax look like?
[11:19] Young Geoffrion: breaking the seal
[11:19] Anchor Gascoigne wants foreplay.
[11:19] Young Geoffrion: that was a portculliis stamped in brown wax
[11:19] Anchor Gascoigne: ah
[11:19] Young Geoffrion: with the words,
[11:19] Young Geoffrion: tout-seul

[11:20] Anchor Gascoigne: ooh
[11:20] Enjah Mysterio: all alone?
[11:20] Young Geoffrion: stamped beneath
[11:20] Young Geoffrion: All alone
[11:20] Enjah Mysterio: wow
[11:20] Enjah Mysterio is fascinated now
[11:20] Anchor Gascoigne: sounds like it could be my seal
[11:20] Young Geoffrion: There were only three pages inside
[11:20] Young Geoffrion: and it was signed by someone named Gascoine

[11:20] Anchor Gascoigne: never!
[11:21] Young Geoffrion: we looked at the signature first.
[11:21] Enjah Mysterio: Gadzooks!
[11:21] Anchor Gascoigne: was it legible?
[11:21] Young Geoffrion: It was.
[11:22] Young Geoffrion: clearly Gascoine was a scribe or a scrivener

[11:22] Anchor Gascoigne: The courier seemed as though he'd carried it for a hundred years.
[11:22] Young Geoffrion: he wrote in a beautiful hand
[11:22] Young Geoffrion: long, loppy letters
[11:22] Young Geoffrion: loopy letter I mean
[11:23] Young Geoffrion: let me try that again:
[11:23] Young Geoffrion: long, loopy letters
[11:23] Young Geoffrion: a relaxed pen,
[11:23] Young Geoffrion: broadly spaced words
[11:23] Young Geoffrion: that began,

[11:23] Anchor Gascoigne: sad people now use ballpoints
[11:23] Enjah Mysterio: not all
[11:23] Anchor Gascoigne: ink is so much nicer
[11:23] Young Geoffrion: Ma plus chere...
[11:23] Anchor Gascoigne: generally
[11:24] Young Geoffrion: and no name
[11:24] Anchor Gascoigne: I wrote all my university notes in fountain pen
[11:24] Young Geoffrion: It was a love letter.
[11:24] Anchor Gascoigne: ah!
[11:24] Anchor Gascoigne: But to whom?
[11:24] Young Geoffrion: That much was obvious,
[11:24] Anchor Gascoigne: How could you find out?
[11:24] Young Geoffrion: it could only be written to Mira,
[11:25] Young Geoffrion: my cousin Mira exclaimed.
[11:25] Young Geoffrion: But my cousin Estrella differed

[11:25] Anchor Gascoigne: Oh she is too much
[11:25] Young Geoffrion: and was convinced that the description referred to her own features:
[11:25] Young Geoffrion: a round, pale face like the moon
[11:26] Young Geoffrion: skin as soft as a petal

[11:26] Enjah Mysterio: eyes?
[11:26] Young Geoffrion: a mouth as ripe as a berry
[11:26] Anchor Gascoigne: two
[11:26] Enjah Mysterio: lol
[11:26] Young Geoffrion: the eyes were not mentioned.
[11:26] Enjah Mysterio: the best number!
[11:26] Young Geoffrion: how strange!
[11:26] Anchor Gascoigne: three is better
[11:26] Anchor Gascoigne: hmmm
[11:27] Young Geoffrion: If the eyes had been mentioned, my cousins might never have lost their hearts
[11:27] Anchor Gascoigne: eyes are always mentioned
[11:27] Young Geoffrion: at the same time
[11:27] Young Geoffrion: for in all things they were identical,
[11:27] Anchor Gascoigne: in a love letter
[11:27] Young Geoffrion: except their eyes.

[11:27] Anchor Gascoigne: I fear the courier has a plot
[11:27] Young Geoffrion: Mira had dark eyes like pools of still water
[11:28] Young Geoffrion: while Estrella's eyes sparkled blue like a lake in a storm

[11:28] Enjah Mysterio waits to hear what the courier was up to
[11:28] Young Geoffrion: Mira gazed at the world modestly,
[11:28] Anchor Gascoigne: My own are blue-grey like a puddle reflecting the sky
[11:28] Auron Warrhol is Online
[11:29] Young Geoffrion: Estrella challenged the world with her gaze
[11:29] Auron Warrhol is Offline
[11:29] Anchor Gascoigne: Estrella is the younger?
[11:29] Young Geoffrion: But as they both had round faces, and lips like berries,
[11:29] Enjah Mysterio bites her lips to make them like berries
[11:29] Young Geoffrion: they were convinced the writer
[11:29] Young Geoffrion: had addressed both of them

[11:29] Enjah Mysterio: hmmmm!
[11:29] Anchor Gascoigne: It was obviously Mira, though.
[11:30] Anchor Gascoigne: If indeed it was either.
[11:30] Young Geoffrion: that mis, each claimed to be the rightful recipient of the letter from across the wood
[11:30] Young Geoffrion: *this tis
[11:30] Young Geoffrion: *that is
[11:30] Young Geoffrion: Mira offered additional evidence

[11:30] Enjah Mysterio: but perhaps it was Mona Destaigne after all!
[11:31] Young Geoffrion: she had explored deeper in the forest than Estrella
[11:31] Enjah Mysterio: who may have had eyes red like Mars!
[11:31] Anchor Gascoigne lays 5 guineas on Mira
[11:31] Young Geoffrion: and it was clear she had been seen by someone who lived on the other side
[11:31] Young Geoffrion: But Estrella said no,

[11:32] Enjah Mysterio wonders where their parents are
[11:32] Young Geoffrion: she sang so much more prettily than Mira
[11:32] Young Geoffrion: and her voice carried further
[11:32] Young Geoffrion: The two young ladies could not agree,
[11:33] Young Geoffrion: and turned to the messenger to decide for them.

[11:33] Anchor Gascoigne: Sisters will argue, tis said.
[11:33] Enjah Mysterio: and cousins will kiss
[11:34] Young Geoffrion: The young man in the deerskin boots stood up
[11:34] Young Geoffrion: Yes, just like those boots
[11:35] Young Geoffrion: Though not as marbled

[11:35] Enjah Mysterio: these are fawn
[11:35] Young Geoffrion: Kobe beef boots?
[11:35] Enjah Mysterio: lol
[11:35] Anchor Gascoigne: :-D
[11:35] Young Geoffrion: or fatty tuna?
[11:35] Enjah Mysterio blushes
[11:36] Young Geoffrion: The young man blushed too.
[11:36] Anchor Gascoigne: And did he solve the problem?
[11:36] Young Geoffrion: In a manner of speaking.
[11:37] Young Geoffrion: I think you may agree this was a problem without a ready solution

[11:37] Enjah Mysterio: only if he is unsure
[11:37] Young Geoffrion: The young man suggested that as the intended recipient was a mystery
[11:37] Anchor Gascoigne: Well he seems unsure but I don't trust him.
[11:38] Young Geoffrion: the only solution was for both young ladies to accompany him back through the

[11:38] Enjah Mysterio: uhoh
[11:38] Anchor Gascoigne: oooh nooo
[11:38] Young Geoffrion: to the other side,
[11:38] Enjah Mysterio: no not a good idea, ladies
[11:38] Young Geoffrion: where he would introduce the underscribed Gascoine
[11:38] Anchor Gascoigne: the "Other Side" or the other side?
[11:38] Young Geoffrion: of the loopy letters,
[11:38] Enjah Mysterio: oooo nooooo
[11:38] Young Geoffrion: and he would tell them
[11:39] Young Geoffrion: to which of them he had addressed his love letter

[11:39] Enjah Mysterio shivers
[11:39] Young Geoffrion: Mira looked at Estrella
[11:39] Young Geoffrion: with the sort of look that says,

[11:40] Enjah Mysterio hopes the look says let's go home sweetie
[11:40] Young Geoffrion: "you think you are more beautiful than I, but I will show you
[11:40] Enjah Mysterio: uhoh
[11:40] Enjah Mysterio: Pride leads the way
[11:40] Young Geoffrion: that I have charmed a young man from a distance"
[11:40] Young Geoffrion: Estrella looked at Mira with a look that said,
[11:41] Young Geoffrion: "You undoubtedly think yourself fairer than me,
[11:42] Young Geoffrion: but when I greet my love with a song, you will realize who is fairer."

[11:42] Enjah Mysterio thinks this cannot end well
[11:42] Young Geoffrion: I looked at them both with a mix of horror and,
[11:42] Young Geoffrion: I must admit it,
[11:42] Young Geoffrion: fascination.
[11:43] Young Geoffrion: They stood up as well,
[11:43] Young Geoffrion: and swept the dew from their skirts
[11:43] Young Geoffrion: and turned to the young man,
[11:43] Young Geoffrion: and invited him to lead the way,
[11:43] Young Geoffrion: I bade them fare well,
[11:44] Young Geoffrion: and without a glance back,

[11:44] Anchor Gascoigne: =========:O
[11:44] Young Geoffrion: they went into the forest
[11:44] Enjah Mysterio dreads the next sentence
[11:44] Anchor Gascoigne: Have they been seen since?
[11:44] Young Geoffrion: There might not have been a next sentence
[11:44] Young Geoffrion: except that many years later,
[11:44] Young Geoffrion: when I was fifteen

[11:45] Enjah Mysterio had imagined "and they were never seen again"
[11:45] Young Geoffrion: and playing on the same lawn, next to the same wood
[11:45] Young Geoffrion: the young courier came down the road

[11:45] Anchor Gascoigne: ooh
[11:45] Young Geoffrion: He greeted me with a laugh and a wave
[11:45] Enjah Mysterio thinks, he never aged?
[11:46] Anchor Gascoigne: botox
[11:46] Enjah Mysterio: lol
[11:46] Young Geoffrion: he had aged, certainly
[11:46] Anchor Gascoigne: he WAS A FRAUD COURIER
[11:46] Anchor Gascoigne: I don't trust those pretty boys.
[11:46] Young Geoffrion: though he was not so old as to have lost his charm
[11:46] Young Geoffrion: I asked him what had become of Mira and Estrella
[11:47] Young Geoffrion: and to which of the two had the letter been addressed?
[11:47] Young Geoffrion: And who was Gascoine? and what had been the fate of my cousins?

[11:48] Enjah Mysterio: yes, we all want to know
[11:48] Enjah Mysterio: Enquiring Minds, you know
[11:48] Young Geoffrion: He smiled and shook his head.
[11:48] Enjah Mysterio: no!
[11:48] Young Geoffrion: "It is a funny thing,
[11:49] Young Geoffrion: that Gascoine was not a name of a person after all

[11:49] Enjah Mysterio: "come with me to the other side of the forest and I will show you your cousins

[11:49] Anchor Gascoigne: They might've been disappointed and run off with a travelling troupe of

[11:49] Young Geoffrion: but the name of a place
[11:49] Anchor Gascoigne: Ah
[11:49] Young Geoffrion: and that Mira and Estrella, having reached that place
[11:49] Enjah Mysterio: never never land
[11:49] Young Geoffrion: on the other side of the wood,
[11:50] Anchor Gascoigne: They might've been turned into trees
[11:50] Young Geoffrion: had been praised by all the young men for their round faces
[11:50] Young Geoffrion: and their berry lips
[11:50] Young Geoffrion: and their skin as soft as petals

[11:50] Enjah Mysterio: and their elfin ears no doubt
[11:50] Enjah Mysterio: so they became prostitutes?
[11:50] Anchor Gascoigne: Shocking what men do.
[11:50] Young Geoffrion: skin of does
[11:51] Enjah Mysterio: fur of fawns
[11:51] Anchor Gascoigne: no never
[11:51] Anchor Gascoigne: They became queens.
[11:51] Young Geoffrion: And they had each taken a young gascon for a husband
[11:51] Anchor Gascoigne: of twin kings
[11:52] Anchor Gascoigne: and they could never return because...
[11:52] Enjah Mysterio: they were nailed to the floor
[11:52] Young Geoffrion: Mira became a mother of twin boys,
[11:52] Anchor Gascoigne: well they just were too busy
[11:52] Young Geoffrion: and wrote down all the tales that were told in that part of the world
[11:53] Young Geoffrion: and her sons grew up to be couriers

[11:53] Enjah Mysterio: lol
[11:53] Young Geoffrion: and tale tellers
[11:53] Anchor Gascoigne has fallen under Mira's spell.
[11:53] Young Geoffrion: and honey-tongued lovers
[11:54] Young Geoffrion: But Estrella married a sailor

[11:54] Anchor Gascoigne: Her face is as radiant as... a radiator... and her eyes come in a pair, like clogs.
[11:54] Young Geoffrion: and disappeared over the horizon
[11:54] Young Geoffrion: and was never seen again

[11:54] Enjah Mysterio: her face peeks over the horizon each night
[11:54] Enjah Mysterio: the courier is CLEARLY LYING
[11:54] Young Geoffrion: except she wrote me a letter from Africa
[11:54] Anchor Gascoigne: I've got a hill in the way.
[11:54] Enjah Mysterio: he killed them both
[11:54] Anchor Gascoigne: nooo
[11:54] Enjah Mysterio: and he faked the letter!
[11:55] Anchor Gascoigne: He didn't, he didn't.
[11:55] Enjah Mysterio: HE ATE THEM
[11:55] Anchor Gascoigne: He was a deer.
[11:55] Enjah Mysterio: they tasted like berry pies
[11:55] Young Geoffrion: where all she wrote was,
[11:55] Young Geoffrion: "tout seul"
[11:55] Anchor Gascoigne: An enchanted deer and the girls became doe queens
[11:55] Enjah Mysterio: in a loopy hand
[11:55] Enjah Mysterio is aware her imagination is dark
[11:55] Anchor Gascoigne: deer write loopy
[11:56] Enjah Mysterio: yes tough with split hooves
[11:56] Anchor Gascoigne: well known
[11:56] Young Geoffrion: It is a true story,
[11:56] Young Geoffrion: except the part about the deerskin boots

[11:56] Enjah Mysterio: ... and if they have not died, they live there still!
[11:56] Anchor Gascoigne: and the raining girls
[11:56] Enjah Mysterio: and the eating
[11:56] Anchor Gascoigne: They are, I know!
[11:56] Anchor Gascoigne: And they are laughing.
[11:56] Young Geoffrion: It turned out the young courier's name was Gascoine
[11:56] Anchor Gascoigne: ah
[11:57] Young Geoffrion: And had been in love with them both
[11:57] Enjah Mysterio: awwww
[11:57] Enjah Mysterio: a young man's first love(s)
[11:57] Anchor Gascoigne: What tricksters love makes of mere mortals.
[11:57] Young Geoffrion: and was the author of that letter,
[11:58] Young Geoffrion: though he was a gentle boy who would never have hurt anyone

[11:58] Enjah Mysterio: he could not choose, and lost both!
[11:58] Anchor Gascoigne: He wasn't a Mormon, I hope.
[11:58] Young Geoffrion: and lost them both to his friends
[11:58] Enjah Mysterio is saddened
[11:58] Enjah Mysterio: a beautiful tale, ms g
[11:58] Anchor Gascoigne: Well, young Yo had better shy away from him.
[11:58] Young Geoffrion: on the other side of the woods.
[11:58] Enjah Mysterio: delights
[11:59] Anchor Gascoigne: She is wiser, anyway.
[11:59] Young Geoffrion: Gascoine used to visit me often
[11:59] Enjah Mysterio: the young have their wisdom
[11:59] Anchor Gascoigne: Some dew.
[12:00] Young Geoffrion: but he was too much in love with Mira and Estrella.
[12:00] Enjah Mysterio: it rains wisdom
[12:00] Anchor Gascoigne: Some are precipitate.
[12:00] Enjah Mysterio: uhoh
[12:00] Anchor Gascoigne: Still!
[12:00] Young Geoffrion: Still.
[12:00] Enjah Mysterio: the poor young man
[12:00] Young Geoffrion: I don't know,
[12:00] Anchor Gascoigne: He will not find happiness clinging to the past.
[12:00] Young Geoffrion: Imagine how it might have turned out if he had married one,
[12:00] Young Geoffrion: and still loved the other?

[12:01] Enjah Mysterio: or the other way round!
[12:01] Enjah Mysterio: lol
[12:01] Anchor Gascoigne: lol
[12:01] Young Geoffrion: Or both ways around and then through the middle?

Thursday, 11 June 2009

Home Again

Oh, the perils of travel, the joys of return. The grass is overgrown where the sheep could not graze and dust covers the mantel. I am weary, weary from restless change and disappointments, upsets and too-small triumphs, and thirst for intelligent conversation with sober and modest companions. I shall first take care of the letterbox and unpaid bills, then look for me at home in Bodega, where I will lay down my road-tired frame and wait for you.

Tuesday, 26 May 2009

No Girls Allowed

In the continued absense of the owner of this blog, I'm posting a link she tweeted whose subject matter is very close to her heart. I'm sure Young can furnish you with a better description when she returns, but for now, may I present on her behalf, No Girls Allowed, a graphic novel of inspiring historical women who overcame societal limits by dressing as men.

Tuesday, 28 April 2009

HBA's TED Talk: Greening the Ghetto

I may have disliked school, but I've always loved learning. I'm a learner for learning sake and in a recent post, Young opened my eyes and mind to a great resource for learning on the web - the TED Talks. In her (wonderfully eloquant) post Young not only discussed about the democrotisation of education, but also set myself, Enjah & Osprey a task - watch a selected TED Talk and discuss. I'm not much of a discusser, really - talker yes, discusser no - so my views will no doubt be largely positive & supportive. I can't help it - I was never cut out to be a critic :-)

Young asked me to look over this TED Talk: Majora Carter: Greening the ghetto. In RL I work in the regen field, specifically in sustainable community development, so Madam Geoffrion quite rightly suspected this would tickle my fancy. From the engaging speaker to the joyful message she brought, I LOVED it! Majora's personal, emotional style suited me down to the ground. And her message! How a country as rich and powerful as the US can allow such inequity in the basic quality of its people's lives is a source of shame that will astound future generations. But the energy, drive, determination and potential of humans the world over displayed by Marjora is simply amazing. We waste so much. So much and it's so wrong. But stories like these (and I can point to similar ones here too) are beacons in the dark. Thank you Young, Thank you for my beacon :)

You can watch all the TED Talk videos on YouTube here - I've downloaded a lot via RSS from the main site and I'm going to watch at least one a day.

Friday, 24 April 2009

TED Talks Challenge

There is nothing that gives me greater hope for the future than TEDTalksDirector on YouTube.

One of the most profound miracles of the internet age is, I think, the erosion of nearly all barriers to an education. If you were born with an inquiring mind and access to the internet (these are not low barriers, but they are lower than ever before in history) you can obtain for yourself the equivalent of a bachelor of art or science degree, and perhaps a masters. Beginning with Harvard & MIT's Opencourseware materials, English-speaking students and scholars anywhere in the world have access to lecture notes, assignments and readings. Wikipedia and Google Books complement the sudden, massive, participatory democratization of education. I believe these are revolutionary changes, paradigm-shifters from which the entire globe will benefit, on the same scale as the invention of the printing press or the symbolic computing device.

The TED Talks are one symptom of this educational openness. It is a sort of Britain's Best Talent for ideas, where almost every speaker is a Susan Boyd.

Great ideas and great hopes are created by the rich cross-fertilization of symbols, cultures and media that used to require universities (to concentrate global talent) or world travel (to disseminate local attitudes and expectations). TED Talks have bringing some of the best thinking in all fields together every year.

I have listened to some of these talks dozens of times. Neuroanatomist Jill Bolt Taylor's insight into the mind caused by her own stroke has helped me understand religion, the nature of the human mind and reality as we experience it. Bonnie Bassler's secret, social lives of bacteria not only illuminates the physical and chemical reality in which we live, but also the demographic reality that generates these ideas.

But in this post I want to celebrate a more profound mixing, that of science and art, of gender and politics, in a recent lecture by Margaret Wertheim, who crochets coral reefs. Her talk typifies the smart, aware, enlightened approach to knowledge that finds inspiration in every aspect of the world around us, and reveals reality as a blessedly intricate web of ideas and connections, from lowly craft and hobby to higher mathematics.

I believe the fundamental basis for intellectual growth and happiness is participation and creativity. Just to be quite clear that beneath my polite exterior I am an insufferably arrogant individual, I have assigned homework to my readers, at least those who have bothered to make themselves known to me:

Osprey: Emily Levine: A trickster's theory of everything
Enjah: Mihaly Csikszentmihalyi: Creativity, fulfillment and flow
HBA: Majora Carter: Greening the ghetto

I want you to watch these assigned videos and return to me, or post where you will, your views or reviews, reflections, arguments or off-subject comments. I will accept no refusal, but you have no deadline either, and if you find a talk you enjoy better, I will accept that too. Curse me and my strange, jumping bean interests, but I cannot watch smart people talk and not think of you.

Tuesday, 21 April 2009

Drottningholm Palace

I paid a visit to this 18th Century roleplaying sim, very nicely conceived and carefully built, with considerable effort put into its construction and gameplay. They are welcoming though expect a high level of historical accuracy in behaviour, which I respect. I met a young lady in front of the palace who adopted me as her junior brother returned from study in Paris, who then demanded I change my appearance (taller, stronger, handsomer, manlier) and became impatient when I did not achieve an immediate transformation to her liking. When she was ultimately satisfied, she became just too interested in my personal life. Perhaps it is my advanced age, but if I am to roleplay, I prefer to do so at my leisure and in privacy. This is a beautiful build and the other players deserve as much thought given to my appearance and character as they have given to theirs. I might return but perhaps not as Young Geoffrion, and not as a pup. I wish the young lady all the best fortune and happiness, and sincerely hope we shall meet again, though she may not recognize me when we do.

Wednesday, 1 April 2009


This novel by Kate Mosse was recommended to me by Enjah and HBA, and though I meant to borrow it from the library before my trip, in the end I did not have time (Anil's Ghost will be overdue when I return to Los Angeles on April 18) and packed Laurence Stern's Tristram Shandy and a recent biography of Charlotte Cibber (the actor's daughter who famously dressed as a man on stage and off) in its stead. But Sepulchre was on display at an airport kiosk within sight of my departure gate, in paperback, so I took it as sign. Figuratively speaking of course.
I finished it last night. Set in Paris and the Languedoc with characters and story arcs in the nineteenth and twentieth centuries, with two related female lead characters guided by a strong tarot motif and supernatural events, the story has obvious similarities to my own memoirs (or the other way around, but I naturally think of it this way). I was delighted to discover there is still a readership for this kind of material, for I suspect that the gothic thriller is an outmoded genre, leaving us with today's flat, action-filled mongrels like the Da Vinci Code. (This story was clearly written for the Dan Brown crowd, and that book's theme is even explained in precis by one character to another.) On the other hand I became alarmed at the number of similarities in the tales: especially when Leonie says to Auric Baillard, "You are not French!" for I said the very words to Madame Boucher! But in the end it is a quite different tale, and told in a different manner.
The author prefers to endlessly inform us what her characters are thinking when one would be happier if she just showed us in dialogue. The reader doesn't need to be bludgeoned with symbolism and portent. Indeed the dialogue moves the story along quite well on its own, but her exposition lacks art. One suspects there is no poetry in the author, no delight taken in setting a scene, dwelling on a detail, exploring a moment. The story gets from point A to point B in a very businesslike fashion. One looks in vain for moments that shimmer, that offer a sudden insight into the character or place. But for all her characters' churning thoughts, fears, doubts, hesitations, guessing and supposing, the book would have been half as long, and better by far. At last I found the story predictable and contrived, the language awkward, and I finished it to better study what I must learn to avoid myself in my writing. It was instructive.

Friday, 27 March 2009

Creative Life

Elle Coyote's recent posts on Deliberate Practice and Talent is Overrated have put me in a contemplative mood about what I am doing, or attempting to do, in this blog, and in the rest of my life. I left my comments there and hope they didn't sound condescending, because I want to continue them here. I have had the extreme good fortune to be granted the circumstances to earn my living from a creative life, and feel always the desire to share that enjoyment. That desire has led to years of practice and some teaching, plus a lifetime of deep appreciation for the creativity of others, which makes me perhaps unreasonably fearless in my opinions.

Talent is overrated. To me, that is a tremendously liberating and encouraging concept. Anyone can cook, as the chef said to the rat, indeed! But one must want to cook enough to overcome obstacles life sets up, and enjoy doing it enough to practice it at every opportunity for years. Practice, not talent, is the only indicator of success. And I think this applies in every field of human activity. The best barristers are those who breathe and dream and debate the law, the best athletes those who set themselves a challenge and do not rest until they have accomplished it.

I began drawing at the age of ten, and it made me different from the other children I knew, enough to feel I had carved out a space for myself, a domain under my own control, where I imagined I had talent. It was all the impetus I needed to apply myself to drawing every day, out of uncritical pleasure and no little measure of self-delusion. But with practice I became better. And others began to notice, too. The practice came long before anyone said I had talent. I might not have continued without that attention (such a needy child!) but I was proud of my skill and wanted to spend every waking minute improving it. I drifted through my lessons, paying scant attention to anyone trying to teach me anything, including my drawing tutors, because I was busy experimenting and trying new things on my own, and always working at drawing. The only thing I loved as much was reading.

In my case, the love of learning and doing overcame the pleasure of finishing, so my accomplishments were personal and inwardly directed. My art was no one else's business, and I never took my career seriously. As a result I drifted to other things and for a long time lost touch with my creative life. It is a habit that must be nurtured, even after it is mastered. Ultimately, I fell into representing artists and managing other's careers, out of love and a need to feel useful.

Now I am at a new stage in my career, confident that if I chose to, I could very easily resurrect those drawing and painting habits, and make up for the time I have lost. Indeed I know the business inside out, what galleries and collectors need and desire from their artists, how the bubbling ecosystem of museum and curator and critic and publisher and auction house thrives, the usefulness of advertising and public relations and cash flow. I know so much that the fun has quite gone along with the possibility of failure and the desire to take risks.

I think that is why I am now writing instead of drawing. I always wrote self-consciously, fearfully even, and fitfully. I know I am not very good. I certainly do not have talent. Every page fills me with self-loathing and doubt. The possibility of failure or worse, mediocrity, is real and yet, thrilling. It makes me fearless. I want to try everything: make all the mistakes and shortcuts that gets one lost in the woods. I am determined to be proud of those rough edges, shameless for the artless mistakes, and so I am not hiding my first drafts, but posting them for you who are foolish enough to read them. But I also look forward to the necessary improvement that will come from writing every day, that after even so short a time I am beginning to feel. The process is fascinating, cathartic, human and divine at the same time.

I try to apply the lessons I taught my own students who struggled to capture a likeness. Work on the big shapes first, ignore the details. Stay loose and gestural, never erase your mistakes. Don't worry about what the first or second or tenth drawing looks like, because no one will see it. But give every drawing all of your attention and think about what you are doing. Set yourself a goal: a drawing every day, or twenty sketchbooks a year. Copy the work of great artists, draw the shoes and crumpled paper and people around you, block your ears to the critics you live with (including the ones that live in your head) and never stop working for anything, including natural disasters and personal loss. Ben Shahn wrote in the Education of an Artist, "draw and draw and paint and read, there is no content of knowledge that is not pertinent to the work you will want to do."

Thursday, 26 March 2009

Theatre de la Foire

With one hand in his and the other around the little figurine in my pocket, I followed my uncle Adraste as he rushed from the cemetery directly to the Fair of Saint Laurent, the Theatre de la Foire, where the satire of La Sylphide had been mounted by our competitors with much success. A crowd had already gathered, and he hoisted me upon his shoulders to get a better view of the stage erected on the balcony against a false facade above us.

"They're already attracting bigger crowds than Monsieur Biancolleli," said a man in an extravagantly floppy straw hat who had edged over in our direction. He lifted one side of the brim and smiled up at me. "Buongiorno, Principessa Yolande Rat-Catcher."

I cried out with delight.

"Shh, you must not give me away, or I shall have to have to go on stage and apologize for my own rhymes."

"You can't possibly be worried," said my uncle, "they can't be as good as yours."

"Do I look worried?" he asked in a quaking voice, "But you know, Panard's songs are memorable, and Fagan writes remarkable French dialogue for an Irishman."

"Not Charles-François Panard, that merry drunkard..."

"Ah, I see you know him too! I say, Adraste, you keep the very best company!"

"He bought an edition of John Gay's The Beggar's Opera from me last month."

"Excellent! You will join us afterward, then, for dinner." Monsieur Biancolelli smacked his lips at me.

"But are you not incognito?"

"Good God, not from Panard! From the Riccoboni's!"

A horn fanfare announced the beginning of the performance, in the same manner as our own musicians in the Theatre Italien, but then died away on a flat note. The horn player stood up, raised his instrument over his head, reached in the bell and extracted an enormous piece of lady's underwear, then bowed to the delighted audience before tossing it to a young lady who appeared on the balcony. She caught it neatly, inspected it carefully, then declaimed,

We present our satire with honest intentions,
Aiming to delight with emulated inventions,
For it takes rare talent to be the original creator
Of verses so bad, even parody's a hurdle
When your model's on stage in that marginal theatre
run by the italienne who fits in this girdle.

"Monsieur Biancolelli, it's scandalous! She's insulting your verses!"

"Shh, I know, I know; I wrote her lines myself. And helped to fund the production."

My uncle and I burst out laughing.

"You know, I have probably made a terrible mistake. But it's hard not to write satire, and the more they laugh here, the more they'll want to come in and see what's been parodied. Besides, Panard needs the money."

The performance was an utter farce, with an obese sylph who made the entire balcony shudder, and the gnomide a dwarf made up as an old woman; Eraste a lecher and Arlequin a drunkard. The palace of the Sylphides was a tavern, and Clarice, the neglected fiancee of besotted Eraste, made an appearance as a laundress, boxed her sylph-sotted betrothed about the ears, then pulled him off stage to the applause of the audience. But the verses were very funny, and we laughed without stop, who would have cried if we didn't know M. Biancolelli had had his hand in it.

We dined that night al fresco at a guinguette, a wine shop just on the edge of the city, with stout Monsieur Panard and wiry Fagan, his collaborator, and with Monsieur Biancolelli, a few unmarried members of the company de la foire, and one or two other performers of the Theatre Italien.

"Before Riccoboni won the Hotel Borgogne, we performed with you in the fairs, but a permanent home has our levity undone, and our rhyme no longer compares. " said M. Biancolelli as a toast.

M. Panard stood up to reply, . "my friends, all things in this world shall pass; this is a law even heaven holds dear. If you doubt it now just watch my glass, for the wine it holds shall soon disappear." And he held up the most enormous wineglass of eau-du-vie, bowed to us and drained it with pleasure.

Fagan took his turn, raised his glass and addressed M. Biancolelli gravely. "Of rhyming levity you do us accuse, to some we seem to play the buffoons, but the lightest humour can do more than amuse, making ridiculous the very thing it lampoons."

The entire table gave a long, pleasurable groan at this opening volley, for it announced the continuation of la guerre des vers, which had been waged between the members of the two companies for decades. M. Biancolelli added, "If Fagan wears a sullen air, and Panard never learned to pout, 'twas only because Fagan was spare, or because Panard was stout."

They went on like this all night, back and forth, as the wine shop filled with customers attracted by the impromptu jousting, and the delighted inn-keeper bustling around refilling jugs and glasses, turning any horizontal surface he and his wife could find into a table. Merchants and students, tradesmen and apprentices were all seated together, and a gentle couple who would not identify themselves and whose livery we did not recognize, also took part, adding a couplet or two of their own. Everyone was in the highest, most excitable spirits, interrupting each other with laughter and impertinent remarks.

I wandered about the tables and chairs, content to quietly study everyone who had gathered under the stars, until I caught sight of an old man in a three-tailed wig I thought I recognized, seated at the very edge of the company where the warm lantern light and laughter faded into the cold night air, and who seemed to watch me with glittering eyes. I fled back into the crowd, that was now singing le chevalier du Guet, and clung to my uncle, then fell asleep in his arms.