Bohemia Village Voice  Bohemia Village Voice

For bohemians everywhere

Stacey Lane

‘Two Slices of Evening, Please’

‘Two slices of evening, please’ I said, lying in bed, still drowsed in sleep. Out of the fog they came, and like lemon slices, I laid them on my eyes to soothe them.
If you were me, what else would you do with them? You could put them into a glass case, as Cinderella might put hers with her slipper inside one, because she’d had such a perfect evening.
Imagine her invitation. ‘Come into this room and see my wonderful treasures. Oh, Puss, I went to the ball and danced with the Prince. Now all I have to show for it is in this cabinet: one of the glass slippers I wore and these two delicious slices of evening.’
However, you might use a treat like this another way. Suppose your child asked, ‘Why can’t I stay up late? You are all going to a party, and I have to go to bed at eight o’clock’.
‘Never mind, dear’, you could reply. ‘You can have two slices of evening. Would you like them when we come home, or would you prefer them now?’
Of course the child says, ‘Now, please’ – which is reasonable, because after all, the party has to have the slices to prepare in advance.
I wonder what would they be like when they are ready? Would they have had time to marinate or mature? Would laughter, music, and spicey gossip be in them, or does that just happen when the party’s in full swing?
‘Two slices of evening, please’.
I think of a lemon meringue puffed-up confection, tartly crumbling in my mouth, and very digestible. On the other hand, what would you make of a syrupy sludge? Clearly it has its own kind of occasion to match.
What about a Mississippi mud-pie night in a noisy pub? Or a quiet laze at home? Watching a DVD of King George III going mad would be crusty and salty perhaps, but certainly not sweet; a mixture of tastes, like cod cutlets and cabbage, unpalatable and hard to swallow. It would need half a ladleful of gravy.
Two slices of evening? One would be enough of that.

 

The Girl On The Beach

Do you remember that magic summer, when you discovered the seaside? You were four, and the world was new and wonderful.
You were with your parents, and the beach spread for miles. You paddled, with your hands clasped in theirs, and squealed with delight as the waves lapped at your feet. There was so much to do and you ran barefoot to watch the Punch and Judy show, to sit wide-eyed and open-mouthed with the other children.
Have you forgotten a girl sat beside you at that performance? She was about your age, with curly hair and dark eyes. She clapped, like you, when Judy defied Punch and rescued the baby, but she did not laugh. You discovered she knew the story, and that the figures were not real, only dolls moved about by her father. At the end of the show, he called ‘Ellen’, and she went quickly to the little tent to help pack the equipment.
The show was there the next day. Ellen sat in the front row watching solemnly. She smiled when you went to sit beside her, cross-legged on the sand.
After a while, you said ‘Come and see my Mum and Dad. They’ll buy us some ice-cream’.
Ellen looked at you silently and shook her head, so you skipped across to your Mum, and asked for a cornet.
‘What about your friend?’ she asked. ‘Maybe she’d like one, too’.
When she brought them from the kiosk, she came with you to the show.
‘Hello, Ellen’, she said. ‘Are you by yourself, or are Mummy and Daddy here?’
‘They’re working the Punch and Judy, miss’, Ellen replied.
‘Oh, good. I’ll sit here with you and see the rest. I’d like to meet your father’.
You all sat together, and you found out that your mother knew Ellen’s.
At the final curtain, Ellen’s father called her. You followed with your Mum, a few steps behind Ellen. Behind the stage were the puppets. Ellen’s mother was packing them into cases. You thought what a strange face she had – white on one side and yellow and mauve on the other. Then she dropped Judy and hurriedly scooped her up again, but before she could put her in the case, her husband punched her to the ground, shouting that Judy would be broken. When he saw your Mum, he glowered.
‘Oh, heavens’, she said, ‘take Ellen to see Daddy, darling’.
So off you both went. Ellen was very serious, and none of the jokes that your Dad told could make her smile. She just looked at him.
There was a lot of shouting from the direction of the Punch and Judy stage. Luckily, the beach was now deserted. Then your Mum came back with her arm round Ellen’s mother’s shoulders and you all went home together. The visitors slept that night in your room, while you had a cot in your parents’ room. You were indignant about that; at four you felt too old to be treated like a baby.
Next day, your Dad took you and Ellen to the park. Later, he got the car out of the garage, and took everyone to a grand house a few miles away. You and your Dad stayed in the car until your Mum came back. Then you waved to Ellen and her mother and went home.
I’ve told you this story, as you have forgotten it. Some is pieced together by guesswork, but some I remember very clearly. It will stay with me forever.
You see, I am Ellen.


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