All 17 of you may have noticed that the Sad Old Bong had a near-death experience this last weekend. Not, however, in the classic mode. Scenes from his brief life could not flash before his eyes – or on his monitor – because he had neglected to back up the archives. Lazy sod. He has, however, learnt from this experience. Those of you who are sometimes tempted to hack him down are now doomed to bitter disappointment. Every. Single. Page. from the archives has now been "saved as HTML". (Cue deep evil laughter fading into the distance, appropriate for Eric Campbell in the early Sennett films)
Saturday was spent in pensive mood, quietly mourning the presumed demise of the Sad OB. There was, however, a Party in the evening. On a Launch, yet. Your Faithful Chronicler reasoned that Friends should not be Disappointed, Social Obligations should be Discharged (such altruism!) and therefore (much to the Relief of A Certain Hippogriff) shut down Google Talk and trundled Off to the Riverside.
Where there was a Launch. With large numbers of People One Hardly Knows, but also a reassuring number (at least 5) of Old Friends. And no, one did not have any plans of Sitting on a Bench like a Bookend. The launch also had a Good Smell (which later translated itself into Good Food. Not that one really cares for these things, of course, but one has a Duty to One’s Readers, factual accuracy and all that). There was also Rum. Very nautical, even though the voyage was more a putt-putt up the Hooghly than a cruise on the Spanish Main.
Rum goes very well with Led Zeppelin. This is a Scientific Fact based on a Time Series of Careful Observations over Many Years. The same Series of Observations has also Established the Compatibility of Rum and The Doors, Rum and Deep Purple (worn, one conjectures, rakishly over the left shoulder), Rum and Dire Straits … a Full List shall be published in a Learned Journal very shortly.
Calcutta must be just about the only river-port that tries to ignore its river. No river-front revelry, no floating dance-floors or even restaurants, just an expanse of mud-flats bordering crumbling walls. An occasional rattle from a passing train - mostly empty - on the Circular Railway. As we cast off, lights rippled and bobbed in the water, reflections from the Millenium Park, from the State Bank building, from Foreshore Road on the Howrah side. Even that fungoid baroque monstrosity, Howrah Station, looked passable when lit up at night. As we passed under Howrah Bridge, we could see through the bridge railings the ceaseless streams of people that inspired shots in films by Mrinal Sen and by the Boss himself.
Sliding upstream, we passed a series of lovely 19th-century ghats. Wide steps leading down to the water, sometimes cupolas, sometimes flat roofs with ornamented edges. Then with an ominous whiff of charring, Nimtolla, the ghat beside one of Calcutta’s two major crematoriums. Smoke from a tall chimney, eerily suggesting souls writhing into the lowering sky. A pyre flaming down at the river’s edge. While we had our little tipple and rumble out on the water. Quite all right, I suppose, except that it’s all too close to II Kings (2:15), King James version.
But aarrgghhhh! One has Misguided Friends. Shameless, even. Who insist on listening to that Scourge of the Soundtracks, to wit, Himesh Reshamiyya. Early Attempts at Subverting this Plot were successful, but Ran Aground when the young DJ loudly asserted that Bryan Adams is “the best singer who ever existed, maaan!” No amount of enlightened self-interest could restrain my snigger. Whereupon aforesaid young DJ Went into a Huff and Flirted quite Shamelessly with Misguided Friend, who Used her Wiles to make him play Himesh R. Over and over. Oh death where is thy sting.
Therefore, for the better part of two hours, your Faithful Chronicler was reduced to lurking below decks, sulking and skulking in a hell-born plastic chair that Tipped Over Twice, all to escape the aural assault of Woh lamhe or the even more satanic Aa jaa aa jaa36 (which indicates "to the 36th power" and is NOT a foot-note). This Exile, however, was Not Entirely a Bad Thing. The Path from Galley to Upper Deck lay through One’s Nook and as a Corollary, various Trays of Good Things passed within Easy Reach.
Your FC was eventually run to earth and harried out of his corner by a
horrible haggle of howling hell-hounds group of kind ladies. Serendipitously, at that moment the DJ tired of Mindless Noise, as evidenced by “You get a shiver in the dark when it’s raining in the park” as one ascended the ladder. Followed by Black Dog and – oh crackers and cream cheese! – Highway star.
Then I noticed the poles holding up the awning on the upper deck.
Kind Reader, keep in mind that this musical bounty followed after aeons of Howling Himesh. Blame it Not on the Rum, nor on the Vodka that Came After. Think of the Gaze of several Eminently Respectable Old Coots who were Obviously (and Owlishly) Decrying this Debauched Adoption of Western Mores, and who Equally Obviously deserved a Collective Boot (Size 13) on their Overloaded Self-Important Posteriors. Think how pleasure, relief and the river breeze fuelled the Over-Arching Desire – nay, Necessity! – to Cock a Snook at that Awesome Array of Asininity.
Only to realize that a moving launch in the middle of a tidal river does not provide a Stable Base on which to Shake One’s Booty. An over-ambitious cross-over step almost up-ended me. Which was when I Grabbed the Pole. Thus was its Potential Brought to my Notice. To summarise – (a) opportunity to improve foul mood (b) Messrs. Gillan, Morse, Glover and Paice (c) the Inherent Instability of the Ground (deck?) beneath One’s Feet (d) support and opportunity combined in the form of pole, steel, bolted, reassuringly solid, one.
Wherefore the August Assemblage, already Apprehensive at the Spectacle of one large bureaucrat Stepping High Wide and Plentiful, were Reduced to Quivering Awe by the Unprecedented Revelation of Aforesaid Bureaucrat Pole-Dancing.
And doing it dashed well, too, though I do say so myself. I didn’t hang from the pole by my crossed ankles, but I did manage the Complete Revolution with Feet Off the Floor (umm, deck). Twice. Once with feet hooked round the pole, once even (prepare to gasp) with legs spread wide (causing Alarm and Dismay among Those Who Had to Skip Out of the Way). Mimi in NY has competition!
Whereupon my friend D** - quiet, suave, urbane, RESPECTABLE D**!! – was inspired to join me. And the DJ, bless his sneaky heart, played Highway Star twice through while these two old fogies bumped and ground and bounced and shook their booties round that Pole, almost to the point of melt-down. Need I say that the evening wound down after that?