I love experiences or people who are so Other that I find myself sucked out of my day-to-day mindset into a new realm, except I can not recall who I am or how I got there. I love people who wear their character traits like jagged slabs cut from the collective consciousness. Even when some of these “character traits” can be construed as negative or wrong. Example: Mrs Weber. She and Mr Weber lived halfway up a hill that bore their name. It was a bitch of a hill if you were riding your bike because you would have to slow down for the junction at the bottom before giving it over the gravel in the hope that you would maintain enough speed past the driveway before the geese got to you, their wings spread and their bills wide open in a steady hiss.
No one I’ve ever known could smoke like Mrs. Weber. Her head seemed to be festooned in a constant cloud, her already diminutive frame shrinking a little more each day as all the moisture was steadily sucked from her body. My prevailing memories of her are her mat of yellowing white hair and the steady bounce of a long cigarette, which she kept perched in her mouth as she spoke. It seemed that at any moment it would surely fall out, but somehow it always stayed, held on by the smallest tug from her thin lips.
You see? Isn’t see marvellous? So you can understand why Friday night turned out to be such a gold mine experience. I went with lovely Jackie from work, her mom and another mum and daughter to an “Africa Night” fundraiser, to raise money for the hospital’s neonatal unit. The agenda included both a fashion show and food, but no one was expecting “The Voice.”
First the food. Oh, the food. Rice, fluffy maize, tripe (I admit I passed on the tripe, although Jackie was brave and tried some), chicken, fried plantains (swoon!), gizzards (again, I passed), huge chunks of fish, greens and more. But the best thing was my new big girl dream food: spinach cooked with peanut butter. These African women know a good thing when they find it. I don’t know what was better: the actual taste of it or the pleasure of my surprise at just how good it was.
The turnout was very small, as the German and Christmas markets now in full swing, not to mention the countless other Yuletide events going on in the city. But there was good enthusiasm and cheer all-round, thanks in a big part to the organizer, whose name I have forgotten, and also this little man pictured with her, who unintentionally entertained the group by dancing aimlessly around the hall (and in perfect rhythm).
Throughout the early part of the evening The Voice (for this is what he called himself) lingered near the back of the hall, nursing a beer and staring with a curious seriousness toward all of us at the tables. I won’t describe the outfit because you can see it on the video, except to say that after his performance I noticed that he had changed his belt buckle to a giant golden butterfly. He went back to drinking but would periodically start to dance, obviously going over a routine he had designed.
The organizer didn’t know who he was. He just showed up, having learned of the event from someone else. When he asked her if he could sing, her response was “why not?” And so he sang. Four songs. And I’m here to tell you: You’ve not lived until you’ve heard a bearded transvestite belt out “You’ll Never Walk Alone” at an African-themed fundraiser at a church hall in the dead of an Edinburgh winter.
I do hope I don’t sound demeaning or smug, as my enthusiasm for weird is genuine. The pool of weird is where all the best metaphors are born, slithering out of the muck of the creative mire. It is where I experience my best lessons of humility and wonder and where all my knots of perception are loosened so I can move again, free in the gateless land of impermanence.
So there. In other news, Yuletide has reached this kitchen witch’s hideaway. The black roses of Samhain are tucked away into a vase in the hall. The wreath is hung from the door and my beloved Greenman candle holder is surrounded by red tinsel (with stars!). I hope my beloved will be pleased with my attempts to join in his plans for a tat-filled, glorious holiday season of good cheer and kitsch. I have hauled out my Christmas music, which differs from JP’s as mine is the whispering Pagan tones of Loreena McKennitt and his is Rockin’ Around the Xmas Tree. We’ll both have days off over the holidays and I hope we can visit both the Surgeon’s Hall Museum and the Dungeon.
In our house there is nothing as festive as blood and a little cheerful fear:
I am sending cards this year. Anyone want a card? Hold up your hands. No - that’s not working. I can’t see you. Best email me with your address and a card you shall have. Those of you whose addresses I already have will have no choice but to receive a card.
Finally, there is still a moose loose aboot this hoose. I saw him again last night, flitting about the kitchen looking for crumbs. The traps are still out but not only do I think this is the smartest mouse ever, I think I’m becoming attached to him. Watching him last night he was…cute. Really cute. Perhaps JP will help me to pull the washing machine out from the wall, to see what we can see. But other than keeping the kitchen floor scrubbed, I don’t know what else to do.
Time to cook. This Spag-bog isn’t going to make itself.