The depository for ideas Site {FRIDAY EDITION}

For those that missed it this is a site for Ideas and stories. Am putting it up as a Friday thread so you can all see what it,s about.

(Plus I am running very late again).

 

Jaycee’s idea

Raffle and trivia night will be held next Friday.

TONIGHTS COMMENTS START AFTER ABOUT 33

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783 thoughts on “The depository for ideas Site {FRIDAY EDITION}

  1. Gig’…The practice of the man coming out first to get work and to set up a residence was common practice as there was not the 10 pound migration system then and it could be quite precarious for the Italian migrant. Some, like my father had to be sponsored by another individual and some had to be guaranteed a job before they could get a visa..some ethnic groups had to “club together” to sponsor others from the same village…
    There was a system where a immigrant had to have a certain amount of cash on their person before immigration would let them off the ship, so the same moneys were used many times over from one to the next on the same day to get the men off the ship.

    The women of those isolated villages suffered badly in the war, with the advancing armies and the retreat and the allies too coming through the villages…..The men folk were mostly recruited or killed or cleared out to the hills and the women were either raped or had to sell themselves to get food and such for themselves and their children.

    I asked my cousin Ron, who came out here as a young boy from Nth. Italy..(“Saying Goodbye to Ferruchio”) and I asked him about another incident that concerned a young woman who was engaged to a friend of my father’s who came out before the war and he lost track of her during the war , only to find she had survived the war but had a child…My cousin laughed sardonically when I asked about the subject..
    “What do you think!” he mocked my innocence ” The Fascists went through, then the Nazis, then the Americans…and when those armies went through, they went through all the women too!…what do you think…it was non-negotiable if you wanted to live!”

    So there you go..not a nice picture and one would be somewhat reticent in venturing too far from one’s family.

  2. jaycee

    Those were difficut times. But so are, or even harder, the current times for the A/S in Dutton’s camps and camps in Africa, ME, and elsewhere.

  3. “Penance”.

    God I was feeling good..you know those days when you set out with a heavy work-load of appointments and things to do so you think you’ll never have time to do them all..and then suddenly this one and that one falls off the list through no fault of anyone’s and suddenly you have half the day to yourself to relax and just enjoy…Those were the circumstances that found me idling my time away in the shoe repairs, in the arcade in the city, getting my good lady’s riding boots repaired.

    “Cosimo’s Shoe Repairs” ; it is one of those small shops there off the side of the arcade. I always take my good shoes there to be fixed, have done so for years. Whenever I’m in the city, which is not that often, and I needed some leather work done I’d go to Cosimo’s.

    Cosimo is a little bloke, light framed and with one crook leg. He is rather soft spoken but has the loveliest eyes, now I say that as one human to another…lovely eyes, you see them sometimes… but when I look I notice it’s not his eyes so much as the slope of his eyebrows…they slope away to the sides of his face at such an angle as to draw your attention toward his eyes…or at least that’ the conclusion I’ve come to!

    “Are you in a hurry Mr. Gregory?” Cosimo asked. “For I can fix the heel while you wait.”

    I waved my hand casually.

    “No. No hurry for me, I’ll wait if it’s ok with you.”

    I rested one arm on his work counter and gazed out of the little side window display into the arcade. There was a greeting card stall in the middle of the walkway and a young couple were browsing through the cards while holding hands and smiling into each others eyes upon mutual enjoyment of a particular card. I smiled for them.

    “Isn’t love grand?” I remarked flippantly then I turned my head over my shoulder to the busy Cosimo and asked casually: “Have you ever been in love Cosimo?” I paused then ; “excepting the lovely signora of course.”

    Cosimo looked up at me with those eyes.

    “I have never loved my wife, actually…and she has never loved me… respect each other…yes…endeared to each other ..yes..but love…no!” He switched off his machine and rested his hands on the bench. “Raising a family, feeding it, working a business for it, let alone giving birth to it takes more than love, Mr. Gregory,…I’d say I was deeply dedicated to my wife, but love…no!”

    I raised my eyebrows. Cosimo wiped his hands methodically as he pondered. Fate picks strange moments for its pronouncements of insight, this was one of those moments. He looked at me for a moment and then said.

    “As for love…yes…I was in love once,…with a boy I served my apprenticeship with”…I must have raised my brows a little higher for he immediately gave a quiet chuckle… “Oh no Mr. Gregory…not like that”…he chuckled softly…”Men can love each other without there being any homosexual overtones… such insinuations are mostly foolish presumptions by foolish people…” he sighed “It takes growing up to realize that but yes I did love that boy and as you can see, I’m not the kind of male who’d attract the eyes of too many women eh? It’s the truth…I’ve never been handsome it’s as simple as that!”

    He put my shoes down on the bench and gazed at his wrist watch.

    “It’s smoko time,…do you fancy a cup of coffee?” I was pleasantly surprised.

    “Why yes, yes…love one.” Cosimo nodded

    “Good…come, I’ll shut up shop and we’ll go out back for some lunch.” and he did just that.

    After we’d settled down at a laminex table with some bread, cheese, slices of meat and a rich brew of coffee in front of us, he began.

    “I’ll tell you a story of those times, you might find it interesting and I’ll be able to put it to rest. I s’pose this leg was the catalyst of it all…It’s this gummy leg that’s let me down, they nearly wouldn’t let me migrate to Australia because I had a “crippling affliction”. It was only after I got some glowing references as to the quality of my work that they changed their minds…that and the fact that I’m self-employable, being a shoemaker, was what tipped the scales in my favour.

    “ I’ve had the crook leg from birth, one shorter than the other, that’s why the extra thick sole on my shoe. The kids used to tease me about it, called me “draught horse” on account of the way I drag one leg after the other sort of…you know? I see it in other people with the same problem as me…that sort of heavy legged look, like one boot is full of lead, but you can’t see it in yourself…you know?

    “ I learnt the leather trade from old Gino Barrina, he took me on as his apprentice along with his own son …Angie…a kid my own age. I used to board with them on account I came from a village out in the sticks as you’d say…By god, he was a good lookin’ kid that Angie! Not like me, I wasn’t any prettier then than I am now. You’d think life would give you something in compensation for ugliness eh? ha! oh well…Angie said to me once that I should get a job in a cheese factory, they could just stand me in front of the vats of milk to make it curdle!…but he said it in a more humorous way than those other boys…but it still hurt. “It’s alright for the more fortunate to poke jibes at the less privileged” I said “because they don’t have to live with the insult”.. and he never poked fun at me again.

    “And I had their respect; old man Barrina and Angie, ’cause I could work…If you pull your weight in the workplace, you’ll always get respect from the other working people…There’s no worse person than them as try to worm their way out of their fair share of labour.

    ” We would go to the piazza in the evenings after dinner, just when it was becoming dark and hang around with other working boys and girls. In the early days of our apprenticeship, we had no money at all, so we just used to mull about the streets, hands in our pockets kicking the kerbs and generally making a nuisance of ourselves, you know, like most young bucks with hot blood and no action to quieten it! But then when we got older we’d go to a specific cafe or “bar” and play the machines and drink coffee or whatever and it was at one of these “bars”…the…the “Fiori di Napoli”…the”Flower of Naples” cafe that Angie first met Rosa.

    “It was just after we’d brought this little moped type thing, you know, one of those motorised bicycles. All the young blokes had them, those or scooters, and the first thing we’d do is knock the muffler off to make them louder…god! the racket!…when I think of it now…tch tch! Oh well, we were younger then.

    “We were able to buy this machine because of a stroke of luck came our way in the shape of a couple of Americans from New York we met at the monthly market, who were looking to buy lots of Italian shoes “wholesale” or rather “black-market”…they would buy hundreds of pairs, take them from their boxes and pack them in these big zipped bags and take them back to the States as personal luggage to avoid import duty. and then re-box them and sell them as high-class Italian shoes for triple or more what they paid!

    “Angie and I knew all the shoe-makers in Naples , so we arranged the sale and bunged on a dollar a pair for our efforts and with the profit, we brought the little moped.. and that’s how Angie met Rosa.

    “Angie used to ride it and I’d go pillion whenever we went out at night. I would ride it too during the day and Angie ‘d go pillion but when we went to the cafe’s he’d always be up front, it was just an unspoken agreement we’d come to…look:…we all know our places eh?…he was strong, handsome and I was the opposite…with a “club’ foot…I tell you this…if you don’t know your place in this world, there’s plenty that will put you there for free…eh?

    “Anyway, we pulled up in front of the “Flower” one summers evening and no sooner had we slowed down than I slid off the back like those cowboys slide off their horses in the movies, I was off and hobbling about in excitement and this girl that was standing in the doorway up and laughs this great big loud laugh that froze us both and we looked at her and she says:

    “Well, if it isn’t the Lone Ranger and Hop-along Cassidy!” And she tossed her head back and roared with laughter. I sidled up to Angie and said:

    “What’s she laughing at..the trollop!”

    Angie was smiling a little and he gave me a squeeze around the shoulders with his arm.

    “Ha! don’t take it to heart..hoppy!”

    “And a little later I noticed him talking to her over in the corner of the cafe and I thought then…it’s funny how you get these premonitions…they looked a matched pair and her name was Rosa! And over the months they got on…Angie and Rosa, but there was trouble afoot with her family…father at least. He just didn’t like Angie…no reason that I know of…just didn’t like him…bad blood between the families?..Perhaps he had other visions for his daughter I guess…haven’t all parents got plans for their children?…but I ask: do they ever pan out? eh… ever?…the instincts have it over reasoned intelligence every time. The ancients knew more of the passions of mankind than we do. They knew certain gods had to be appeased. They understood the power of love…we think these days because we can place an explanation at the foot of the deity of the day that is both concise and clever that the case will rest there…but the gods just smile at our simplicity and, thankfully, the young continue to confound us! ha!

    “But Angie, he was too wild and Rosa too fiery for a quiet romance. And listen! I was as much in love with them both as they were with each other. Angie was my alter ego, strong where I was weak, handsome where I was ugly, so why shouldn’t I feel for her, although platonic, an affection equal to Angie’s love? Dammit , Mr Gregory, have you ever desired out of frustration with a crook part of your body, to simply tear it away and replace it with a better part or for that matter, the same with a part of your life! Ah! but we’re all frail creatures, so very, very frail…So when the father refused permission for Rosa to see Angie, was I not the perfect conspirator, the lookout in the shadowy doorway and at the same time the “lover” caressing his maiden…ha! ha! oh weren’t we innocent! “Her hair Angie…isn’t it lovely!” I’d say at some moments, as if I shared her with him, which in my mind I did. “Isn’t that skirt nice.” I’d say , ha! and she was a very pretty girl, that Rosa.

    “And so it went on ; these secret meetings, for months till it blew up in our faces one day at the markets. There is a point of balance in any event both physical and emotional that once tilted accelerates away regardless of our desires. Angie and Rosa had reached that point of balance.

    “The place was crowded…Jews, Arabs, Moroccans, English tourists all squint-eyed and suspicious, Americans…everybody it seemed shouting and over it all that eternal sound of Naples…the quick toot-tooting of car horns! Angie’ s father sold shoes, boots, belts and leather jackets and that sort of stuff…and a few brass buckles to go with the belts. Angie hadn’t seen Rosa for a couple of weeks because of her old man’s opposition to it all, so he was all short-tempered and irate with everybody, even giving cheek to the customers so that his father had to chastise him in dialect a couple of times even. Angie just shrugged and went on touting the goods till I spotted Rosa coming down with the crowd, she was with her father.

    “It was a cold day with a strong wind blowing off the bay. I nudged Angie and pointed her out him eagerly (didn’t I too desire?). She stopped over the other side of the avenue whilst her father went browsing at a stall there nearby. She looked cold as she stood there with her arms wrapped around clutching her shoulders. Angie gazed at her longingly. She looked lovely, but yet sad, her long dark hair swished about with the breeze so she tossed her head every now and then and her little red lips all pouty and her body all impatient looking as she waited for her father.

    “Suddenly as if inspired by a reckless angel, Angie snatched a nice little leather jacket off the rack that sent a rattle down the rest for the violent of the snatching that attracted the attention of his father. Angie leapt the trestle in front with his father two steps behind calling angrily: “Angie…Angie…che cosa fai?” with his hand raised in front. But Angie didn’t even look back, he pushed hurriedly through that crowd toward Rosa. I was craning my neck in anticipation.

    “She hadn’t seen him coming so that when he reached her and gently placed the jacket around her shoulders she gave a little start and her red, red lips formed a little “o” of surprise as she saw it was Angie and her hand went quickly up to rest over his that was on her arm and I saw their eyes lock together into that silent sphere where lovers go and I felt as if I was with them too, I was that thrilled for their affection, till suddenly her father turned and saw them there and he started shouting fit to raise the devil and Angie’s father put in his bit telling Angie not to waste time and money on the daughter of such a rat-bag and Rosa’s father pushing toward the stall, his finger pointing and his face all contorted with anger so that both fathers had to be held apart until they cooled down and when he did, Rosa’s father turned to Angie and said.

    “No more, boy…no more seeing Rosa…I know the secret meetings, and I know how this…(and he pointed to me) this cretino keeps guard like a nobelman’s lackey…you think I am stupid?…No… finished. If I see you near her again there will be trouble.”

    “He spoke this quietly with a real tone of threat that it would be carried out…probably with a knife! Then he dragged Rosa away by the hand and she shot a look so appealing over her shoulder as would’ve broke the heart of a statue, till the crowd swallowed her up. Then Angie’s father got stuck into him also and finished by saying that he’d have to pay for the jacket out of his wages. Angie said nothing during both tirades, but I could see he was thinking.

    “Sure enough, a week later he took me to one side at the Flower of Naples and said:

    “I’m leaving with Rosa next Saturday, I’ve sent her a note to meet me tonight and I’ll tell her.” I was agog!

    “You mean you haven’t even told her yet?”

    “No…but listen, she’ll agree…I know. I’m going to meet her under the bridge near her house…you have to be in this with us”…

    “Of course I agreed, I couldn’t think of them leaving without me, they were my life! We met Rosa after dark under the bridge. I went and stood “guard” and that phrase “nobleman’s lackey” rose in my memory and irked me somewhat as I stood there in the shadows of the bridge pylons. But it was alright as her father had gone to his local bar for a card night. Would she go! Yes, yes, yes, oh! he only had to ask, hadn’t she thought of the same thing herself these last few weeks! And they embraced and kissed and laughed so I kept saying;

    “Shh, shh..you’ll wake the dead with all that noise.” But I was happy too, we were all going away to a new life..wonderful!

    “Angie arranged for the following Saturday as Rosa’s father always went to the football every Saturday and that would give us time to get to the station to take the train to Rome, then on to the north.. to…to…Switzerland or even Germany. Yes, anything was possible, we were young, there was nothing we could not do..it would be fine! North, away from all the frustration of a secretive love, of stunted desires and I rejoiced, even though I had never so much as kissed Rosa, I felt she was mine as Angie was me as I was them both. Such was my dedication to my alter ego. His happiness was my happiness, his elation was my desire, I was fates’ go between!

    “And that Saturday we were secretly packed and on our way and we would have made a clear break too if not for fates’ vindictiveness. It was a very wet day, so wet in fact that the soccer was washed out after the first half. We were crossing the piazza in front of the railway station with all our bags and Angie hurrying us along.

    “C’mon, c’mon the train leaves in a couple of minutes!” and suddenly we hear an almighty yell from across the square and it’s Rosa’s father calling to her at the top of his voice so we all jumped in our skins!

    “ROSA!, ROSA!” he bellowed and she cried out in shock

    “Angie, run, we must run!”

    “Quick…down here” Angie responded and we ducked down beside a row of empty carriages. I was last and I glanced back and there was the old man belting across the square in a raging pursuit.

    “Quick, through the carriages.” And we clambered up into the empty carriages then ran down the aisle with our bags held up in front.

    “Out, out, out,” Angie yelled and we leapt for all we were worth out the other side of the row of carriages. I looked back and Rosa’s father was catching up quickly. The loud speakers suddenly barked noisily:

    “The three-thirty express to Roma: departing platform six…all aboard please.”

    “Under here” Angie cried again and we scrambled under another row of carriages.

    “Platform six, quickly Angie” Rosa yelled “We won’t make it!”

    “There, run, hurry” Angie called and the father was right on our heels as we reached platform six. They were just about to close the gates when we rushed through, Angie threw the tickets to the guard there and did we scamper. All our bags clumsy and Rosa running fit to fly, her rich black hair like the flowing mane of a wild horse, it was all I could do to keep up, with my gummy leg .

    “I looked over my shoulder just as Rosa and Angie reached the last carriage and the train let out this mournful cry that was the siren as it was starting to roll. I looked back and her father was two steps behind me, his face all flushed and his breath labouring from the exertion of it all, but he had plenty of anger in him to carry him to the train. I lunged out with my duffle-bag and it collared him in the middle and he stumbled and fell cursing and rolled over and over.

    “Cosimo, Cosimo…c’mon, the train’s going,” Angie yelled as I picked up my bag and ran toward the slow moving-away train and there was Angie leaning out of the last door of the carriage so far that Rosa was holding him by his shoulders and a hell of a look on her face and he had his arm outstretched toward me and I was going flat out with my gummy leg making an odd “clopping” sound as I galloped along that empty platform.

    “The bag,” Angie yelled “Drop the bag, drop the bag” and my breath was struggling so I threw the bag to one side, I can see it now cartwheeling along beside me and I was running, running as fast as I could and gaining on the train.

    “Cosimo, Cosimo…harder” cried Angie.

    “My leg Angie…it’s…my leg”

    “Grab my hand” he cried and Rosa was there with her anguished face staring over his shoulder and her arms wrapped around his shoulders to stop him falling out of the train and I put on a spurt and reached out with my hand and our fingers touched with my other arm wind-milling around and he reached as far as he could and our fingers interlocked and I looked up at Angie and Rosa and then…and then..something strange happened inside of me. In that split second of touching Angie’s hand, I looked up at he and Rosa and I realised…I realised they were a pair…matched in love and they had their lives before them and I could never be a part of that life, never…never…never and oh I could have wept for the realisation of it all. But I saw in that split second that my illusion was over. You see, I had tried to take a free ride with love, as I had taken a free ride with Angie’s personality all those years and though I still might have made that train, at that same moment my spirit deserted me and I grew so tired, so tired as my fingers slowly slipped from Angie’s grasp, slowly, slowly…

    “No, Cosimo..don’t give up now, Cosimo!” he cried as the accelerating train gently pried us apart and he called to me again but it was drowned by the mournful wail of the trains’ siren.

    “My leg won’t go anymore.” I sobbed as I watched my old life slip away with the leaving train. Rosa’s father suddenly rushed past me crying abuse to Angie and Rosa.

    “Lazzeroni! lazzeroni! delinquents” in a hoarse grasping voice and he hurled a heavy stick he was carrying after the train. “Delinquents…delinquents” he cried more weakly as the futility of it all came home to him.

    “They were gone. He stood there a while breathing heavily and mumbling curses, then turned and came back toward me, slump shouldered, defeated. But when he came abreast, he suddenly gave me a back-hander.. then another.. then another, that knocked me to the ground. He was about to hit me again with his arm raised when he pulled himself up and just looked down at me in disgust and spat on me. I…I didn’t feel any insult, any pain, for what was his anger? With each blow I had taken loves’ penance, for she is a bitter mistress, and on every kiss she puts a price, and every embrace is measured. And that was it. The old man turned and walked past a group of gaping people toward the station gate.

    “I s’pose I could’ve followed Angie and Rosa if they asked me, but I suspect they too came to the same conclusion I reached in that moment…my point of balance, and they went their own way which is only right for a man and a woman. And now, I’ve got my own life and family and I don’t think I’d exchange it for any other desire, no matter how alluring! Another coffee Mr. Gregory?” I mumbled yes. “So you see, I have been in love, and I don’t know if I want to be in love again! I might not now have the courage to face loves’ penance.”

  4. Gee jaycee! You’ve written a book this time …

    Love triangles … So many movies with this theme: Gone With The Wind, The Philadelphia Story, The Red Shoes, etc

    Cosimo is better off with his wife even though he doesn’t “love” her, as he says….

  5. Good company then?
    Gig’ after Cinderalla, there are not too many variations on a theme…there’s nothing new under the sun.

  6. But I tell you what..; it’s a poor writer who doesn’t have at least one Italian love story under their belt!…they are so good at it!…love , i mean…

  7. I was told this little episode of life in the hushed tones of scandal by a nun I once knew many years ago…I thought it was one of the most tragic things in the everyday work-world that I had ever heard..

    It went like this..:

    The Last Lingering Kiss.

    “ I can’t stop now!” she gasped a passionate moan as her arms reached for him..”I’ve desired you for too many nights.”

    He responded huskily, his taut, muscular arms embracing her and driving out all resistance. It was as if some strange, torrid tempest had suddenly descended down on to their bodies as they struggled to out-do one another in the removal of their clothing. He grasped her in his arms and lifted her clear of the carpet, his lips parted and he moaned as he buried his face in her soft, ample, velvet-like breasts.

    “Ohh. Brendon !”,she cried, surrendering her body to his firm, impatient, maleness.”Hold me”, she quivered.

    “You’re trembling”, he whispered…

    Sergeant Tom Flannigan closed the book with a wince and a sad hiss of breath. Distracted by a sudden rising of the wind in the mallee trees outside, he gazed in silent contemplation at raindrops streaking against the window.

    “Right on time,” he mumbled to himself. He was referring to those first good rains of the season. ”Tim’ll be glad he finished seedin’ this mornin’ “.

    His gaze moved from the window back to the book on the desk in front of him. He picked it up wearily and slipped it into an opaque, plastic bag that contained five similar paperbacks. He then folded the top over and sealed it with three staples and labeled it :

    Evidence….stolen property, Crown V’s accused : Sr. Mary Margaret : Principal / Teacher ; St Joseph’s School, West Wyalong…Victoria ..Age : 43 yrs.

    Tom Flannigan read back over the label, he snorted when he came to Sr. Mary Margaret’s status in this small country town and spoke out loud..;

    “Principal, teacher, Also ; lay missionary, August leader of the Sunday prayers, choir organizer / lead singer, dishwasher, cook, cleaner ,bottle washer, big mother to all the god fearing god hating lonely poor beaten, broken down and out bastards between Bourke and bloody Booleroo Centre….the “ear” to the community..God have pity on her.”

    He rose and with an angry tug on a hanging string, extinguished the light. The police station at West Wyalong was a residential, so the distance between work and home was the thickness of a door jamb.

    Tom Flannigan was one of those few who could leave their work worries behind them at closing time, besides, Tom had his own worries, for several days now, he had put off writing a reply to his fiancé, not for nothing to write about, but rather, (as she had complained of a “cold, distant feel ” in his correspondence),because of a forlorn search for a more passionate wording of his feelings toward her in his letters.

    Although this was the second time around in the marriage game for Tom, it was no easier for him to overcome that word-block of emotional and verbal commitment demanded by women from their suitors! Tom scratched behind his ear as he jiggled the eggs and bacon in the pan..; what to say, what to say;

    “I do love you Beth’ with all my heart!” he mumbled such clumsy sentences to himself as he completed cooking his evening meal and crossed to the table. He placed the plate on the table, and after a moments hesitation , decided that the eggs and bacon needed a bit of a “lift”…he took a small tin of baked beans from a cupboard and added it’s contents to the bacon and eggs, speaking theatrically as he did so…

    “Your eyes are like the moon,.(a gesture with the hand) your lips are as cherries nah! …your lips are as…as that girl on the toothpaste ad’ nah!”

    So you can see, Tom. Flannigan had his mind full of that awful doubt that trips and tangles the lovelorn. Added to this was the fact that his future bride had no intention of ever…ever living in such a distant , lonely town like West Wyalong! ….

    So he had no thought to ponder on why a respectable, well-educated person like Sr. Mary Margaret would steal tacky romances of pulp-fiction. There were laws in place to govern the prosecution of criminal actions and his was the task to follow those laws through.

    Rule# 1 : Never confuse the laws of state with the laws of sentiment. In the morning ,Tom Flannigan would transpose the interview he had with Sr. Margaret from tape to document and pass it on to headquarters for its consideration. As far as he was concerned ; the end of the story….

    ” Interview with Sr. Mary Margaret… 12th August 19….

    Accused of stealing six paperback novels from the “Criterion Book Shop” Main Street , West Wyalong ..

    Present .Sgt Thomas Flannigan.. Fr. Dennis Mulcahy ..Sr. Mary Margaret

    Questioning..: Sgt Flannigan..:

    I ask: “Were you in the Criterion Book Shop last Friday afternoon?”

    Fr. Mulcahy. “You answer the questions as best you feel ,Sister.”

    Sr. Margaret. “Thank you for that valuable advice Dennis,….to your question , Sgt, : Yes, I was there.”

    I ask. “While you were there, did you pick up this book? ( shown paperback).title: “The Last Lingering Kiss”?

    Sr. M. “Yes, I did.”

    I ask. “You were then seen to place this book in your bag and walk out of the shop….Did you deliberately intend to steal it?”

    Fr. Mul. “Now Sister, keep in mind you have not yet been charged with any misdemeanor. so you don’t…Sgt, (He confided) I’ve had a call from Monsignor, He has suggested, not without a considerable amount of thought on the subject… keeping in mind the age of Sister and that troubling time of life for women of that age, maybe (he glances to Sr. M.) a touch of kleptomania brought on by the stress of menopause?”

    I ask. “Do you wish to comment on that, Sr.?”

    Sr. M. “I’d rather retain what little dignity I have left than to respond to ..to Monsignor’s …er, suggestion.” (she crosses hands on top of desk).

    I ask. “Then I’ll ask again….did you intend to steal the book?”

    Sr. M. (silence…turns eyes askance, blushes…then looks directly at me)”Yes.”

    Fr. Mul. (groans).

    I ask. “These other books were voluntarily given in by you….did you intend to steal these also?”

    Sr. M. (breathes deeply)”Yes sergeant, I did.”

    Fr. Mul. “Why Sister, Why?”

    Sr. M. “Because Dennis , of a reason I very much doubt you would understand! neither you nor the Monsignor!”

    Fr. Mul. “It goes beyond all rational thought, Sister, that you, in particular, could have the slightest interest in these…these trashy productions!”

    I ask: “Fr. Mulcahy, I am at this time trying to establish the plea of the accused, I am not looking for whys and wherefores…Do you Sr. Margaret, admit to the theft of the aforementioned books?”

    Sr. M. (Takes a deep breath)”Yes, Sergeant ,I do.”

    Fr. Mul. “You do realise, Sister, where this places us, the church, in the eyes of the community?”

    Sr. M. (heatedly)” Oh damn the community!….( Fr. Mulcahy leaps to his feet) and damn you Dennis and damn the Monsignor and double damn the damn Church!”

    Fr. Mul. “Are you gone mad ,Sister, are you madl?”(I grasp Fr. Mulcahy by the arm and sit him back down).

    I ask. “I must ask you , Fr. to restrain yourself, you are here only as a supporting representative of the diocese so please restrict your comments to that role….and I remind you, Sister, that all you say can and will be considered as evidence…”

    Sr. M. ”Oh shut up Tom!…(She stands with fists pressed on table )and you Dennis!….both of you….shut up!…Are you blind? can’t you see we are all of us here in the same situation? (Fr. Mul and I remain silent)..All obliged to serve an institution….an unforgiving, blind institution!…and..and a so called infernal “COMMUNITY!” that denies us any right to a life of our own..no!, don’t you interrupt me Tom Flannigan, I know all about your last marriage, you lost that because of the hours you spent on the job rather than with your family. The police force demanded it. The community demanded it and you ,Dennis, how many more years before the bottle claims your soul?…ah! don’t deny it, I know you only too well.. it’s written all through your eyes.. and those “Holidays” to dry out down by the coast..We’re all three of us damned to play a set-piece for the Community, the Law and the Church. (she sits wearily down)…Oh how I longed desperately to be able to go home at night sometimes to children of my own…a man! …of my own, be him hopeless, be him ugly , but be him human…just human… rather than the dried out wafflings of the writings of a “holy book”!…(she pauses, stares blankly ahead, speaks quietly, slowly) do you have any idea how empty a sound, is the parched, crisp, turning of the pages of a prayer book in the quiet of an evening always alone?

    The three of us have committed social crimes here, only my crime is more visible….I haven’t neglected a family, nor tippled with the altar-wine…I am guilty of a crime of passion….I have tried to steal a modicum of illusion of fantasy….of lust with a man.”

    (there is a moments silence as we gathered our thoughts)

    Fr. Mul. “But why steal the books? Why didn’t you just buy them?”.

    I ask: ” Yes Sister, why did you steal them?”.

    Sr. M. (sighs, leans back in the chair )”Looking back on it, I could say I don’t know..the first one was an accident…I slipped it into my bag absent mindedly as I picked up another thing I wanted to buy…but when I discovered the error later, I stayed silent..why?..; a kleptomaniac impulse….a thrill? no, not a thrill I think rather, it was a part of the desire, an integral component of the hunger…a hunger for the love I did not have…I believe as we grow from the child to the adult, each of us seeks that love..that particular love, most denied…perhaps we are all assigned a set amount of little crimes in this life…alongside our everyday duties, little grubby crimes, along with the humdrum of responsibility and rules..and when we step outside of that regular pattern into the more shady area of our deeds, we must accept a completely different set of rules..”Oh what wicked webs we weave…”(a bitter laugh)….I fought with myself for years against the desires…like you, Dennis with the bottle..and you Tom with the duties of the police officer in a little country town but when can one stop?…can one stave off forever the natural impulse to drop the facade of religion. of law and order?…some can…I couldn’t…anymore…I desired a passionate embrace from a man (she leans forward over the table and speaks slowly)Gentlemen,…I too, wanted a moment of being desired!..how I envied Christ his Magdalene.. and these trashy books were as close as I was going to come to it in this God-forsaken place!…in this God-forsaken church in my own human forsaken life!”
    (The three of us sit silently staring ).

    Interview terminated….

    Nine days later.

    Tom Flannigan glanced up from his desk in the office to meet the eyes of Sister Mary Margaret. He stood to receive her proffered hand. She was leaving the district.

    “Just to say cheerio, Tom…and wish you luck.”

    ‘Thanks sister…thank you and yourself.” he fumbled with the biro in his hand ,then dropped it casually on the table. “What…what will happen to you?” he asked

    The nun laughed softly,

    “Oh,…it’s a big institution; the church…I’ll be swallowed up in it somewhere after a little penance….I’ll become anonymous once again.. slowly ,I trust, the desire for the human touch will be “cleansed” from my soul.. like Dennis’s liver..( another chuckle)….and you ,Tom.?”

    “Me!…oh, I’ll just….just carry on as usual I ‘spose.. hmm…. look, Sister, I know they are going to prosecute this case in the city, so I won’t be seeing you again….I want you to know that I erased that last part of the interview the three of us had I didn’t see it as relevant to the case and I don’t suppose it would have interested the people at headquarters ”

    “Yes, I expect you are right, Tom, there are some aspects of the lives of our community leaders that are best left in illusion (she chuckled again)..a bit like a trashy romance.” “Well,Tom, goodbye.”

    “Cheerio, Sister, cheerio.”

  8. jaycee

    An interesting character and a very strong reaction from her. I think we all know what she means and sympathise with her. It’s a choice she made, though. We all have the ability to make some choices in life. Stealing romances should not be a crime … not in her case anyway.

  9. Jaycee,

    On reading this story of yours, my thoughts are the same as yours. What a tragic and sad happening in the life of a real woman yearning for the comfort of a loving human touch. In the first decade and a half of my own life, I met many Sr.Mary Margarets who were obliged to hide their natural emotions behind a thick tough veneer of the cold authority of religious faith.

    I remember Sr.Catherine who had fallen hard for a priest, and she became the laughing stock of half the kids who had noticed all the signs of her ‘secret’ love she was unable to hide. I was only about ten years old at the time, but I felt very sad for her and I guess that is why I’ve never forgotten her. Of course, I didn’t understand then exactly what Sr. Catherine was going through, but I did understand the difference between warm and cold relationships.

  10. I remember reading a book put out by an ex-nun…a (Sister) Pat Walsh, if I recall..in it were photos of when she became a ‘Bride of Christ”..and they really did dress in a Bridal Outfit…I remember staring at those pictures for a long time and thinking how sadly deluded were those innocent girls..for they were young women..but girls at heart.
    The church is a beast and a monster…”the sow that eats its own farrow”.

  11. Thank you Puff’…Perhaps you would remember..I know Political Animal would..a little second-hand book stall at the Central Market, that was once there between Marino’s Meats and Samtass fish shop…well, at one end was a whole array of those trashy novellas of the “passionate embrace” kind and also western stories…pulp-fiction of the most banal kind and if you turned the front covers, you would see all these “tags”..little initials or symbols put there in pen or pencil by the folk who had read them…as a sign for themselves that they had already read that story..dozens of these individual tags..!
    I asked the man there about them, and he said that most of his customers for those books were elderly people..some in nursing homes who would get him to bundle a dozen or so up and send them on..and then tag them once read and sell them back to him at half the purchase price (a pittance really!)..and so the circle went around.

  12. jaycee

    A very touching story, and wonderfully told. Those of us who count nuns among their friends must often have wondered about the loneliness, even when living communally in a convent.

    Those tags in books – our local library glues a page inside the back cover for tags. They got sick of people writing their initials and secret signs all over their books and this was their solution. These pages are divided into a few dozen little squares, just big enough for initials. When a page is full it can be removed and replaced by a fresh one. Our town has a large retired population who are heavy library borrowers, and the library also sends loads of books to the local retirement villages and aged care hostels, of which there are many. To me it seems so sad, to have to mark a book so you will remember you have already read it. I often wonder what happens when a fresh page goes in and some oldie borrows the book – again – because they can’t see their tag there any more.

    If I ever get to the stage where I can’t remember what I have read will someone please pop round and hold a pillow over my face until ………

  13. Forever Janice..: “…love is a cruel mistress..on every kiss she puts a price and every embrace is measured..”

  14. I have gone back to this story again and again…to me it holds a clue to that deep-seated worry that must trouble many people..; that sense that all was in vain, and the frail vicissitudes of life care not a jot for our very existence.
    I had to scan this copy from my own source, as I believe it is not one of the Author’s most well known pieces.

    BUT FOR THIS . . . By LAJOS ZILAHY

    HE DIDN’T STOP TO WASH THE TURPENTINE FROM HIS HANDS, BUT merely dried them on the rag that was hanging on a nail behind the door.
    Then he untied the green carpenter’s apron from his waist and shook the shavings from his trousers.
    He put on his hat and, before going out the door, turned to the old carpenter who was standing with his back to him, stirring the glue. His voice was weary as he said:
    “Good night.”
    A strange mysterious feeling had shivered in him since morning.
    There had been a bad taste in his mouth.
    For a moment his hand would stop moving the plane, and his eyes would close, tired.
    He went home and listlessly ate his supper.
    He lived at an old woman’s, the widow of Ferenz Borka, in a bare little room which had once been a wood shed.
    That night—on the fourth day of October, 1874—at a quarter past one in the morning, the journeyman carpenter, John Kovacs, died.
    He was a soft-spoken, sallow-faced man, with sagging shoulders and a rusty moustache. He died at the age of thirty-five.
    Two days later, they buried him.
    He left no wife, nor child behind, no one but a cook living in Budapest in the service of a bank president, by the name of Torday.
    She was John Kovacs’s cousin.
    Five years later, the old carpenter in whose shop he had worked, died, and nine years later death took the old woman in whose shed he had lived.
    Fourteen years later, Torday’s cook, John Kovacs’s cousin, died.
    Twenty-one months later—in the month of March of 1895—in a pub at the end of Kerepesiut, cabbies sat around a red clothed table drinking wine.
    It was late in the night, it must have been three o’clock. They sprawled with their elbows on the table, shaking with raucous laughter.
    Clouds of thick smoke from the vile cigars curled around them. They recalled the days of their military service.
    One of them, a big, ruddy-faced, double-chinned coachman whom they called Fritz, was saying:
    “Once my friend, the corporal, made a recruit stick his head into the stove . . .”
    And at this point he was seized by a violent fit of laughter as he banged the table with the palm of his hand.
    “Jeezl” he roared.
    The veins swelled on his neck and temples and for many minutes he choked, twitched and shook with convulsive laughter.
    When he finally calmed down he continued, interrupting himself with repeated guffaws. “He made him stick his head into the stove and in there he made him shout one hundred times ‘Herr Zugsfierer, ich melde gehorsammst’ . . . poor chump, there he was on all fours and we paddled his behind till the skin almost split on our fingers.”
    Again he stopped to get over another laughing spell.
    Then he turned to one of the men. “Do you remember, Franzi?” Franzi nodded.
    The big fellow put his hand to his forehead.
    “Now . . . what was the fellow’s name . . .”
    Franzi thought for a moment and then said: “Ah … Kovacs . . . John Kovacs.”
    That was the last time ever a human voice spoke the name of John Kovacs.
    On November the tenth, in 1899, a woman suffering from heart disease was carried from an 0 Buda tobacco factory to St John’s Hospital. She must have been about forty-five years old.
    They put her on the first floor in ward number three.
    She lay there on the bed, quiet and terrified; she knew she was going to die.
    It was dark in the ward, the rest of the patients were already asleep: only a wick sputtered in a small blue oil lamp.
    Her eyes staring wide into the dim light, the woman reflected upon her life.
    She remembered a summer night in the country, and a gentle-eyed young man, with whom—their fingers linked—she was roaming over the heavy scented fields and through whom that night she became a woman.
    That young man was John Kovacs and his face, his voice, the glance of his eyes had now returned for the last time.
    But this time his name was not spoken, only in the mind of this dying woman did he silently appear for a few moments.
    The following year a fire destroyed the Calvinist rectory and its dusty records that contained the particulars of the birth and death of John Kovacs.
    In January, 1901, the winter was hard.
    Toward evening in the dark a man dressed in rags climbed furtively over the ditch that fenced in the village cemetery.
    He stole two wooden crosses to build a fire.
    One of the crosses had marked the grave of John Kovacs.
    Again two decades passed. In 1920, in Kecskemet, a young lawyer sat at his desk making an inventory of his father’s estate.
    He opened every drawer and looked carefully through every scrap of paper.
    On one was written: “Received 4 Florins, 6o kraciers. The price of two chairs polished respectfully Kovacs John.”
    The lawyer glanced over the paper, crumpled it in his hand and threw it into the wastepaper basket.
    The following day the maid took out the basket and emptied its contents in the far end of the courtyard.
    Three days later it rained.
    The crumpled paper soaked through and only this much remained on it:
    “ .. Kova . . . J. . . .”
    The rain had washed away the rest; the letter “J” was barely legible.
    These last letters were the last lines, the last speck of matter that remained of John Kovacs.
    A few weeks later the sky rumbled and the rain poured down as though emptied from buckets.
    On that afternoon the rain washed away the remaining letters.
    The letter “v” resisted longest, because there where the line curves in the “v” John Kovacs had pressed on his pen.
    Then the rain washed that away too.
    And in that instant—forty-nine years after his death—the life of the journeyman carpenter ceased to exist and forever disappeared from this earth. . . . But for this .. .

  15. Gee jaycee, so many dead people …

    Ever since I migrated here, I have lost so many members of my family – aunties, uncles, nephew, niece, sisters … I thought I had to return before I lost my parents as well. Still, there are many members left. I am not a complete orphan …

  16. Of course, Gig’ it’s truly a fantasy that a person can be completely forgotten,,,esp’ a tradesman who has dealings with many people and many customers can become friends…but it does make one think…an’ I guess that is the objective of most writing…..in some places…

  17. I’ll stick this post up here as well…just for the record.

    There’s a lot of ; “Eee bah guumly” in this district..or there would be if they were Yorkshiremen..as it is there’s the equivalent!…in Germanic brogue…if there is such a thing..
    Was asking for a bit of background knowledge on a long deceased relative of mine from the local aged mechanic…Peter Pohl…He and his offsider ; Vern, run the only workshop in the district..have done for near on fifty or sixty years!…I don’t know…neither does anyone else…not even them!

    “He was a very inventive sort of chap” ..I assisted.

    “Ooo, there were a lot of them about in them days” Peter opined “There was Pastor Ziedel…he was a sort of genius…Do you know, he invented this carburetor that could halve petrol consumption in a motor..but he was dammed clever how he done it.” and here Peter tapped the side of his nose.

    “How so?” I asked.

    “Well, you know he didn’t want anybody to find out how he done it, so he got those little jets and seats and whatnot made in different places so no-one person could put them all to gether…Ooo..he was cunning alright”

    “So did you get to see how it looked?” I pushed on. Peter stopped, pulled up and looked at me in wide-eyed wonder.

    “No!..of course not, it was a secret…hell, he wouldn’t let anyone see how he done it…why, if he went to any motor event, he’d take that carburetor off and put the old one on so nobody could pinch his design..Ooo, he was cunning , ; old Pastor Ziedel.”

    “But if no one saw it, how do you know it worked?”

    There was a pause in the response, which told me that this line of reasoning had never before been broached…then ;…

    “Whhyy…of course it worked…you ask anybody who knew of it…he had it on his old Holden for years…of course it worked…and dammed good too!”

    “Well, I imagine some one saw it after he passed away…was it in his estate when they went through his effects?”

    “No..not that I ever heard..I suppose his son threw it out with a lot of other stuff.”

    “What!” I exclaimed “I would have thought it would be a very valuable item.”

    “Maybe…but because the old man was so secretive about it, i don’t suppose the sons would have know what it was if’n they came across it.”

    And THAT is the wonderful way mythology is created!….eee bah guum !

  18. THE MONUMENT ……..By IRWIN SHAW .

    “I DO NOT WANT ANY OF HIS OWN BRAND,” MC MAHON SAID FIRMLY. He blew on a glass and wiped it with deliberate care. “I have my own opinion of his own brand.”

    Mr Grimmet looked sad, sitting across the bar on a high stool, and Thesing shrugged like a salesman, not giving up the fight, but moving to a new position to continue the attack. McMahon picked up another glass in his clean, soft bartender’s hands. He wiped it, his face serious and determined and flushed right up to the bald spot that his plastered down hair couldn’t cover. There was nobody else in the bar at the front part of the restaurant.

    It was three o’clock in the afternoon. In the rear three waiters stood arguing. Every day at three o’clock the three waiters gathered in the back and argued.

    “Fascism,” one waiter said, “is a rehearsal for the cemetery.”

    “You read that some place,” another waiter said.

    “All right,” said the first waiter, “I read it some place.”

    “An Italian,” the third waiter said to the first waiter. “You’re without a doubt one lousy Italian.”

    Mr Grimmet turned around and called to the waiters:

    “Please reserve discussions of that character for when you go home. This is a restaurant, not Madison Square Garden.”

    He turned back to watching McMahon wiping the glasses. The three waiters looked at him with equal hate.

    “Many of the best bars in the city,” Thesing said in his musical salesman’s voice, “use our own brand.”

    “Many of the best bars in the city,” McMahon said, using the towel very hard, “ought to be turned into riding academies.”

    “That’s funny,” Thesing said, laughing almost naturally. “He’s very funny, isn’t he, Mr Grimmet?”

    “Listen, Billy,” Mr Grimmet said, leaning forward, disregarding Thesing, “listen to reason. In a mixed drink nobody can tell how much you paid for the rye that goes into it. That is the supreme beauty of cocktails.”

    McMahon didn’t say anything. The red got a little deeper on his cheeks and on his bald spot and he put the clean glasses down with a sharp tinkle and the tinkle went through the shining lines of the other glasses on the shelves and sounded thinly through the empty restaurant. He was a little fat man, very compact, and he moved with great precision and style behind a bar and you could tell by watching him whether he was merry or sad or perturbed, just from the way he mixed a drink or put down a glass. Just now he was angry and Mr Grimmet knew it.

    Mr Grimmet didn’t want a fight, but there was quite a bit of money to be saved. He put out his hand appealingly to Thesing.

    “Tell me the truth, Thesing,” he said. “Is your own brand bad?”

    “Well,” Thesing said slowly, “a lot of people like it. It is very superior for a product of its type.”

    “Varnish type,” McMahon said, facing the shelves. “Care-fully matched developing fluid.”

    Thesing laughed, the laugh he used from nine to six.

    “Witty,” he said, “the sparkling bartender.” McMahon wheeled and looked at him, head down a little on his chest. “I meant it,” Thesing protested. “I sincerely meant it.”

    “I want to tell you,” Mr Grimmet said to McMahon, fixing him with his eye, “that we can save seven dollars a case on our own brand.” McMahon started whistling the tenor aria from Pagliacci. He looked up at the ceiling and wiped a glass and whistled. Mr Grimmet felt like firing him and remembered that at least twice a month he felt like firing McMahon.

    “Please stop whistling,” he said politely. “We have a matter to discuss.”

    McMahon stopped whistling and Mr Grimmet still felt like firing him.

    “Times’re not so good,” Mr Grimmet said in a cajoling tone of voice, hating himself for descending to such tactics before an employee of his. “Remember, McMahon, Coolidge is no longer in the White House. I am the last one in the world to com-promise with quality, but we must remember, we are in business and it is 1939.”

    “Thesing’s own brand,” McMahon said, “would destroy the stomach of a healthy horse.”

    “Mussolini,” the first waiter’s voice came out from the back of the restaurant. “Every day on Broadway I pass forty-five actors who could do his act better.”

    “I am going to tell you one thing,” Mr Grimmet said with obvious calmness to McMahon. “I am the owner of this restaurant.”

    McMahon whistled some more from Pagliacci. Thesing moved wisely down the bar a bit.

    “I am interested in making money,” Mr Grimmet said. “What would you say, Mr McMahon, if I ordered you to use Thesing’s own brand?”

    “I would say, ‘I am through, Mr Grimmet.’ Once and for all.”

    Mr Grimmet rubbed his face unhappily and stared coldly at the waiters in the back of the restaurant. The waiters re-mained silent and stared coldly back at him. “What’s it to you?” Mr Grimmet asked McMahon angrily. “What do you care if we use another whiskey? Do you have to drink it?”

    “In my bar, Mr Grimmet,” McMahon said, putting down his towel and the glasses and facing his employer squarely, “in my bar, good drinks are served.”

    “Nobody will know the difference!” Mr Grimmet got off his stool and jumped up and down gently. “What do Americans know about liquor? Nothing! Read any, book that is published on the subject!”

    “True,” Thesing said judicially, “The general consensus of opinion is that Americans do not know the difference between red wine and a chocolate malted milk.”

    “In my bar,” McMahon repeated, his face very red, his wide hands spread on the bar, “I serve the best drinks I know how to serve.”

    “Stubborn!” Mr Grimmet yelled. “You are a stubborn Irish-man! You do this out of malice! You are anxious to see me lose seven dollars on every case of liquor because you dislike me. Let us get down to the bedrock of truth!”

    “Keep your voice down,” McMahon said, speaking with great control. “I want to remind you of one or two things. I have worked for you since Repeal, Mr Grimmet. In that time, how many times did we have to enlarge the bar?”

    “I am not in the mood for history, McMahon!” Mr Grimmet shouted. “What good is a bar as long as the Normandie if it is not run on a businesslike basis?”

    “Answer my question,” McMahon said. “How many times?”

    “Three,” Mr Grimmet said, “all right, three.”

    “We are three times as big now as we were six years ago,” McMahon said in a professor’s tone, explaining proposition one, going on to proposition two. “Why do you think that is?”

    “Accident!” Mr Grimmet looked ironically up to the ceiling. “Fate! Roosevelt! The hand of God! How do I know?”

    “I will tell you,” McMahon said, continuing in the professorial vein. “People who come into this bar get the best Manhattans, the best Martinis, the best Daiquiris that are made on the face of the earth. They are made out of the finest ingredients, with great care, Mr Grimmet.”

    “One cocktail tastes like another,” Mr Grimmet said. “People make a big fuss and they don’t know anything.”

    “Mr Grimmet,” McMahon said with open contempt, “it is easy to see that you’re not a drinking man.”

    Mr Grimmet’s face reflected his desperate search for a new line of defence. His eyebrows went up with pleasure as he found it. He sat down and spoke softly across the bar to McMahon.

    “Did it ever occur to you,” he asked, “that people come into this place because of the food that is served here?”

    “I will give you my final opinion of Greta Garbo,” the first waiter’s voice sounded out defiantly. “There is nobody like her.”

    For a moment McMahon looked straight into Mr Grimmet’s eyes. A slight bitter smile played at one corner of his mouth. He breathed deeply, like a man who has just decided to bet on a horse that had not won in fourteen races.

    “Shall I tell you what I think of the food that is served in your. restaurant, Mr Grimmet?” McMahon asked flatly.

    “The best chefs,” Mr Grimmet said quickly, “the best chefs in the city of New York.”

    McMahon nodded slowly. “The best chefs,” he said, “and the worst food.”

    “Consider,” Mr Grimmet called. “Consider what you’re saying.”

    “Anything a cook can disguise,” McMahon said, talking now to Thesing, disregarding Mr Grimmet, “is wonderful here. Anything with a sauce. Once I ate a sirloin steak in this restaurant .. .”

    “Careful, McMahon.” Mr Grimmet jumped off his stool and ran around to face McMahon. ,

    “What can be done to disguise a sirloin steak?” McMahon asked reasonably. “Nothing. You broil it. Simply that. If it was good when it was cut off the steer, it’s good on your plate. If it was bad .. .”

    “I pay good prices!” Mr Grimmet yelled. “I’ll have no allusions .. .”

    “I would not bring a dog into this restaurant to eat sirloin steak,” McMahon said. “Not a young dog with the teeth of a lion.

    “You’re fired!” Mr Grimmet pounded on the bar. “This restaurant will now do without your services.”

    McMahon bowed. “That is satisfactory to me,” he said. “Perfectly satisfactory.”

    “Well, now, everybody. Boys!” Thesing said pacifically. “Over a little thing like our own rye. . . .”

    McMahon began taking off his apron. “This bar has a reputation. It is my reputation. I am proud of it. I am not interested in remaining at a place in which my reputation will be damaged.”

    McMahon threw his apron, neatly folded, over a towel rack and picked up the little wooden wedge on which was printed, in gold letters, “William McMahon, In Charge.” Mr Grimmet watched him with trouble in his eyes as McMahon lifted the hinged piece of the bar that permitted the bartenders to get out into the restaurant proper.

    “What is the sense,” Mr Grimmet asked as the hinges creaked,”of taking a rash step, Billy?” Once more Mr Grimmet hated himself for his dulcet tone of voice, but William McMahon was one of the five finest bartenders in the city of New York.

    McMahon stood there, pushing the hinged piece of the bar a 1ittle, back and forth. “Once and for all,” he said. He let the aged piece fall behind him.

    “I’ll tell you what I’ll do, Billy,” Mr Grimmet went on swiftly, hating himself more and more, “I’ll make a compromise. I will give you five dollars more per week.” He sighed to himself and then looked brightly at McMahon.

    McMahon knocked his shingle thoughtfully against the bar.

    “I will try to make you understand something, Mr Grimmet,” he said, gently. “I am not as fundamentally interested in money as I am fundamentally interested in other things.”

    “You are not so different from the rest of the world,” Mr Grimmet said with dignity.

    “I have been working for twenty-five years,” McMahon said, knocking the shingle that said, “William McMahon, In Charge,” “and I have constantly been able to make a living. I do not work only to make a living. I am more interested in making something else. For the last six years I have worked here night and day. A lot of nice people come in here and drink like ladies and gentlemen. They all like this place. They all like me.”

    “Nobody is saying anything about anybody not liking you,” Mr Grimmet said impatiently. “I am discussing a matter of business principle.”

    “I like this place.” McMahon looked down at the shingle in his hand. “I think this is a very nice bar. I planned it. Right?” He looked up at Mr Grimmet.

    “You planned it. I will sign an affidavit to the effect that you planned it,” Mr Grimmet said ironically. “What has that got to do with Thesing’s own brand?”

    “If something is right here,” McMahon went on, without raising his voice, “people can say it’s William McMahon’s doing. If something is wrong here they can say it’s William McMahon’s fault. I like that, Mr Grimmet. When I die people can say, `William McMahon left a monument; the bar at Grimmet’s Restaurant. He never served a bad drink in his whole life.’ ”

    McMahon took his coat out of the closet next to the bar and put it on. “A monument. I will not have a monument made out of Thesing’s own brand. Mr Grimmet, I think you are a dumb bastard.”,

    McMahon bowed a little to the two men and started out. Mr Grimmet gulped, then called, his words hard and dry in the empty restaurant. “McMahon!” The bartender turned around.

    “All right,” Mr Grimmet said. “Come back.”

    McMahon gestured toward Thesing.

    “Any liquor you say,” Mr Grimmet said in a choked voice. “Any goddamn whiskey you want!”

    McMahon smiled and went back to the closet and took his coat off and took the shingle out of his pocket. He went back to the bar and slipped on his apron, as Thesing and Grimmet watched.

    “One thing,” Mr Grimmet said, his eyes twitching from the strain, “one thing I want you to know.”

    “Yes, sir,” said McMahon.

    “I don’t want you to talk to me,” Mr Grimmet said, “and I don’t want to talk to you. Ever.”

    Thesing quietly picked up his hat and stole out the door.

    “Yes, sir,” said McMahon. Mr Grimmet walked swiftly into the kitchen.

    “I will tell you.something about debutantes,” the first waiter as saying in the rear of the restaurant, “they are overrated.”

    McMahon tied the bow in his apron strings and, neatly, in the centre of the whiskey shelves above the bar, placed the shingle, “William McMahon, In Charge.”

  19. ESSAY: A Work of Art? Or; The Art of Work?

    The motivation for this essay came from four packets of ladies’ cotton lace handkerchiefs. I had bought them some years before at a garage sale for the princely sum of fifty cents each. One was from Nth’n Ireland, two from Switzerland and one from China. Looking at them in their flat boxes, with the delicate lace folded into diamonds and squares, the brilliant whiteness and small embroideries of flowers, folk images or other set-patterns around the edges and in the corners, I thought they were too, too beautiful for their intended use so I made four frames and placed those “art of work” behind glass to be admired rather than soiled. I could imagine the girls and women (for that would be the reality) sweating over those pieces of cloth . Pieces of work became pieces of art, hence the title of this essay.

    Another excuse for this article, comes from a dispute I am having with a writer on the whys and means of artistic licence. In my calculation, the presumption of “art for art’s sake” is a modern affectation that cannot be justified except in the market place for commodity exchange…the historical creation of what we call ; “art” was once the work-a-day depiction of cultural hopes and activities. The coincidence that such hieroglyphic imagery has a pleasing appearance to human senses and sensibility is more accidental purity of line and length combined with colour and pleasing perspective.

    Certainly, there were some plundering tribes that made use of cultural depiction to amaze and frighten the opposition and then in the more sophisticated societies , the wealthy commissioned artisans to depict statuary and icons for decoration. But these were restricted to the wealthy and state propaganda, the rise of “art for art’s sake” was still a long way away.

    I, am an artisan (tradesman carpenter), my father was an artisan (stone mason-bricklayer), the people who made those hankies were (or are) artisans! A multitude of people producing, constructing, molding, knitting and on and on and on are artisans (from the French : ‘without art’). Getting back to my father the bricklayer (you were wondering why I put him in?) . My father came to Australia from the north of Italy before the 2nd world war. Back in Italy, he was a stonemason, out here where there was not much call for ‘stonies’, he worked under the more familiar nom de plume of bricklayer! But in his employment around the city and suburbs, he built quite a few stone walls and such. One was the long weather-wall along the foreshore at Glenelg . He told me years later that if I was to look at a certain place on that wall, I would see, shaped within the stonework, a map of Italy with all the provinces in varying shades of stone built cunningly into the wall (a stunning…. ,no; a cunning stunt!)….Artisan becomes artist!

    It stands to be proposed: When and who stationed “artists” and “artisans” in their prospective environs? What are the boundaries of these environs, ie; when does artisan become artist and vice-versa? Who adjudicates on works that can be either? What can be done to redress the problem of “artistic” excess?

    Perhaps the first true “artist”, that is; the first person who deliberately constructed a feeling for the sheer pleasure of it, was, perhaps, the person who, seeing the drabness of the cave so depressing, went outside and gathered up a handful of flowers, took them inside, placed them strategically and well, the rest is history! Many a person has gilded their drabness with a “bouquet of lilies”….and received just reward for their initiative!

    There is another boundary, a rather more insidious thing a political thing….a class thing , hardly more ‘enforced’ than now, at this point in time, where the “artist” must be “educated” into the hierarchy, or be politically “in tune to the current needs of the populace!” This has polarized creative works into ; “Creative art” and “Marketable art”.

    This combination of evils, being class-controlled by nurture, locks the more industrious of the producing class out of the race, being, as their ancient forebears, too busy “gutting the mastodon” to have time to become illuminati-ed into the “mysterious paths of creativity”, it has come to the point of my mocking, it’s just that I cannot abide the pretentious waffling of the “artistic” clique that claim unique ability to sway or impress upon the collective desires of the populace such mundane predictability.

    There are no boundaries.. “art” does not exist in itself, but rather as an adjunct to physical experience and cultural existence!… it is not a separate construction of the imagination, if it was, every wicked deed, every insidious act must also be construed as a “work of art” alongside sublime desire! No longer do we aspire to the heroic deed or moment as depicted in Odyssey or Aenied, easier to descend to the lowest common denominator. Elitism in “art” has created a dearth of imagination in the population. So now we are indoctrinated to accept an ” “image” of the “artist”, the falsely constructed behaviour, the “fop”, the contrived personality ponceing around with those two inseparable companions: angst and ecstasy!

    Art has a social obligation…a social objective , but it has been perverted by a market mechanism. There is a serious distortion of our perceptions of achievement within the realms of creativity once we accept the lie of “art for art’s sake” , this is a postmodern prescription and debasement of a noble act. We have given over both riches and recognition to those who ill deserve and abuse both and we receive (unlike our caveman ancestor) little or no representations of our collective struggles in return. The progression to true artistic depiction is a one way street: The artisan has every qualification to aspire to true art (by “true art”, we mean; creative art, including that which is esoteric or aesthetic) because of their connection with physical activity or cultural ambition. The skill needed to envisage, conceive practicalities, collect materials and thoughts and then to “mold” all this plasma into a cohesive design, makes experience in the practical work-fields an essential qualification for the undertaking of an artistic project. That and the emotional trysts of success and failure, strength and weariness , love and loathing of the work involved, gives the artisan all the training needed for creating a “work of art”. The “artist”, conversely, rarely. very rarely, becomes artisan they just do not have the skills.

    Which leads us to ask; who judges on what is a ” work of art’? Who indeed! This leads us back to my statement concerning class boundaries. Invariably, it is in the interests of a certain class to maintain “ownership” and therefore set a “monetary value” on pieces of “art”. The judges, therefore, tend to be those who collect, contract, earn a living by, or just generally set commercial boundaries to : “Objets d’art”, whatever material they be.
    This narrow-minded presumption confines the creation of beautiful objects or imaginative constructs of the mind again to those “qualified” to create!

    A parable : A builder engaged in the construction of a room decided to enhance a window with a little ‘Australiana scene ‘ carved from wood and fixed on the surface of a window so that when the sun shone through it formed a “three-dimensional-silhouette” a rather pleasing effect! A visitor, admiring this scene asked the builder (ignoring the possibility that they could create such a work )..

    “Who made the carving?”

    “Oh, we got a bloke in to do it”. the builder replied.

    The visitor then asked the owner;

    “Who was the person that did the carving?”

    “You’re looking at him!” the builder said.

    The visitor raised one doubting eyebrow in query and had to be reasured by the owner. The insinuation is there. And that, I presume, is where the artisan is expected to remain.

  20. A lot of assumptions here. A minor correction is in order. “Art for art’s sake” is not a postmodern phenomenon. Unless the Impressionists circa 1875 can be classed as postmodern. Or unless the literary modernists of the 1920s can be considered postmodern. Or before them the painters of the very late renaissance beginning to use oil on canvas can be considered postmodern. Art for art’s sake is, when you think about it, a very old institution. My point is: art is a vast domain, and while it may be of interest to some to talk about it, it’s probably better for the artists themselves to do it, and the rest of us to view it.

  21. Ahh!…good on you dedalus…I could correct your correction, but i will wait for others to throw their hat into the ring…if they have the courage!…sufficient to remind yourself that the author who made famous your namesake in modern literature once chided Augustus John ; the painter of his portrait to ; “Never mind the ‘soul’, just make sure you get the tie right!”

  22. Pause long enough!…Well dedalus..assumptions indeed..but at least they are MY assumptions! And while I accept the slogan “art for art’s sake” is from the early nineteenth century, it still is a fatuous statement..and I leave it to Nietzsche to affirm my opinion.

    Friedrich Nietzsche claimed that there is no art for art’s sake. He asked: “…what does all art do? does it not praise? glorify? select? highlight? By doing all this it strengthens or weakens certain valuations….Art is the great stimulus to life: how could one understand it as purposeless, as aimless, as l’art pour l’art?”

    …also we have to concede the first mention of “post-modern”..that title comes with Thorsten Veblen on culture , 1919 :

    Veblen / “post-modern.
    “…But it has been only during the later decades of the modern era — during that time interval that might fairly be called the post-modern era — that this mechanistic conception of things has begun seriously to affect the current system of knowledge and belief; and it has not hitherto seriously taken effect except in technology and in the material sciences.” [Thorstein Veblen, “The Vested Interests and the Common Man,” 1919]

    …and sure, while he did not pursue the doctrinaire of “Postmodernism” as a pseudo philosophy, he did have the knowledge that it presupposed a changing of the times.

    Your last sentence presumes the demand of an indolent society..: art as a consumerable article..: “You make it, we’ll arbitrate upon it and let the market decide”..again, art becomes a commodity, where in truth it is a cultural signal….or at least; should be.

  23. A Call to Revolution!

    Ma’ frens’, we need a revolution!..not to overthrow the state, but to replace the political, administrative and social control from a subservient middle-class with a more homogeneous mix of blue-collar, blue-collar and more blue-collar people…But I am not talking the stupid blue collar..; the bogan idiocy, nor the racist, bigoted goons who wrap themselves in a jingoistic flag and usurp the name of “The People”, such trash will always be trash and more than likely aspirants for a middle-class lifestyle.; “I want to be effluent, mum, effluent!”

    Now is the time for those of the producing classes, the “hands-on” skilled classes to take control of governance , training and administration of our nation. Such responsibility can no longer be chanced in the hands of those more willing to serve mammon and the vested interests than the interests of a nation and it’s peoples. For every time one attends a community forum or council meeting , it seems one is met with obfuscation, legalistic blockage and administrative hurdles, not necessarily for the benefit of good governance, but more than not for the benefit of this or that group of speculators or old family interests. We need “good governance”, not a reward system for mates!

    After all, it has always been the diligence and ingenuity of the producing classes who have advanced humanity through new discoveries or technology…never the financiers nor the indolent managers…BUT…they have always claimed reward and kudos for it!

    From Victor Hugo ; Essays on Humanity.

    “…The cleverness of the governing and the apathy of the governed have arranged and mixed things in such a manner that all those forms of princely nothingness have their place in human destiny; peace and war, the movement of armies and fleets, the recoil of the progress of civilization, depend on the cup of tea of Queen Anne or the fly-flap of the Bey of Algiers.
    History walks behind these fooleries, registering them. Knowing so many things, it is quite natural it should be ignorant of others.
    If you are curious to ask the name of the English merchant who in 1612 first entered China by the north, of the worker in glass who in 1663 first established in France a manufactory of crystal, of the (shipping) pilot who in 1405 discovered the Canary Islands, of the Byzantine lute-maker who in the eighth century invented the organ and gave to music it’s grandest voice, of the Campanian mason who invented the clock by establishing at Rome on the temple of Quirinus the first sundial, of the Roman lighterman who invented the paving of towns by the construction of the Appian way in the year of 312 BC.: of the Egyptian carpenter who devised the dovetail, one of the keys of architecture…of the Chaldean keeper of flocks who founded astronomy by his observations of the signs of the zodiac… “.. and on it goes, the distortion of history to serve the interest of the “managers of education”…sure, education must be managed, but in the interests of the whole of society, not just directed into cul-de-sacs suitable to the financial gain of this or that section of society.

    But why are you learning this from me ; a mere carpenter, a nobody, a minute cog in the juggernaut wheel of society?…because, my fellow workers..you’re NEVER going to hear it from those who know better than to have you know too much!..”A little knowledge is dangerous” they warn…but we can now see that “ A whole lot of knowledge is deadly!!” So leave us with our collective knowledge, after all it is not intellectual copyrighted…

    To quote Thorsten Veblen..:
    “The institution of a leisure class has an effect not only upon social structure but also upon the individual character of the members of society. So soon as a given proclivity or a given point of view has won acceptance as an authoritative standard or norm of life it will react upon the character of the members of the society which has accepted it as a norm. It will to some extent shape their habits of thought and will exercise a selective surveillance over the development of men’s aptitudes and inclinations. This effect is wrought partly by a coercive, educational adaptation of the habits of all individuals, partly by a selective elimination of the unfit individuals and lines of descent. Such human material as does not lend itself to the methods of life imposed by the accepted scheme suffers more or less elimination as well as repression. The principles of pecuniary emulation and of industrial exemption have in this way been erected into canons of life, and have become coercive factors of some importance in the situation to which men have to adapt themselves.
    These two broad principles of conspicuous waste and industrial exemption affect the cultural development both by guiding men’s habits of thought, and so controlling the growth of institutions, and by selectively conserving certain traits of human nature that conduce to facility of life under the leisure-class scheme, and so controlling the effective temper of the community. “ (“Theory of the Leisure Class”)
    No longer can we serve under that sickly-sweet fondant of middle-class tackiness that has more an ear to the stock-market than to the street, that is more attuned to serving a insincere motto of ;” Tempus celerius radio fugit”, or ;” And Gladly Teche”, or; “Postera Crescam Laude”…but enough!…let us instead reflect upon that old alma mater motto of everyone..: “ Non illigitimus carborundum!”, or it’s primary institution..; “ Non credus taurus excretum!”….

    But seriously..

    If ever there was a signal of the decline and eventual destruction of a society, a culture and perhaps of a civilization itself, it is the rise in influence, financial control and political power of the ‘middle class’. From ancient Greece and Rome to the height of the British Empire..it will destroy the USA. too. I will confidently state that the decline and fall of every society which has reached it’s pinnacle of social, financial and civil administration skills, can be sheeted home to the rise in control and management of governance by the middle-classes. It is both the zenith and nadir of a people’s achievement. Let us not be mistaken nor tricked..; an “old school tie” reputation means more to these hustlers than loyalty to the nation it is sworn to serve.

    But it won’t end there, with their incessant analysis into every corner and worry of our lives, it won’t be long before those bourgeois economic hypochondriacs have us in therapy or on echinichia oil for everything from fear of stock-market collapse to shopping malls emptying! Directing, as usual, all their monetary attention to what is most important in THEIR lives…; their bank balance. For with their media dominance, their design of indoctrination has led the most easily influenced into a trap of ; high credit, high consumption …and low taste in entertainment for those masses.

    The insincere concern for the most vulnerable in society, through faux Christian charity programs can be evenly matched by the vicious snatching away of real. State financed programs for the long term…seeing many of the vulnerable, ill, homeless and most in need as ; “leaners” and in such a situation through a fault or choosing of their own…the perception amongst the more wealthy of the middle-class being that they achieved their level of status through their own hard work and ingenuity…yet you look at them..; slovenly or loathsome..opportunist or plain criminal..liars or cheats, and you are certain they never in a lifetime of Sundays could they have obtained ANY position save crawling on their knees without a network of like-minded and like-supportive bastards!

    The middle-class has corrupted nearly every corner of our lives…from simple, wholesome food to simple hard-won finances..they have corrupted our language through pedantic manipulation and twisting of the vernacular and idiosyncracies of the mother tongue into a perverted blancmange of tedious and boring grammatically correct doggerel.

    Our songs have been debased from a voice in the street to a fully orchestrated 32 channel syrup of “pop queens” and “boy bands” to faux radicals , pumping out mass-produced crap that one can neither tap one’s foot to nor shake one’s fist with…the whole “of the people” structure has been bleached into a white-noise of acceptable, non-aggressive political theatre, our ambitions are being “managed”, as is our language, our finances and our cultural heritage…but then we have to at the same time thank Christ for their destruction of the environment, culture, social structures and all we hold dear..for now they, in their overconfidence and cocky indifference, have shown us the face of our enemy…

    The bourgeois middle-class…time to rid ourselves of this pestilence!

    Time for a social revolution!

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