Purveyor of Bollocks to the Crowned Heads of Europe
Saturday, 20 October 2012
How low can you get?
Another late night telephone call. She sent me a text saying, "Scared tonite". I asked 'what of?' and it turned out she had accidentally deleted some of her mother's texts and then began to panic because she would never be able to reply to them.
Even the word 'tonite' was written in such a way that it spelt the name of her mother, whose presence (or lack of) is not so much just below the surface at all times except dreamless sleep, but more like an ocean upon which she floats, like a leaf.
So I called her back on a landline and learned that her dad had begun to behave seemingly totally out of character by suggesting they go Christmas shopping together in the next couple of weeks. I said that although he had never normally shown any interest in the practical side of Christmas before, she should go along with the idea, if only for his sake. She is so wrapped up in herself that she has not yet realised that this suggested shopping trip is just a way in which he is trying to help her, and not a complete change of character on his part, but I thought it best to let her work that out for herself. Best to let each other think that they are helping each other, because - after all - that is exactly what they are doing, even if it is only to take their minds off things. All will be well in the long haul.
Immediately after next week's dreaded hurdle, another event will take place. I am booked to go down to the hidden medieval street that runs beside the old city wall and up to the edge of the hidden river bank, taking as my guests the (ex) Mayor and a few others, including H.I. Well, they are sub-guests really, as I am the guest of the developer who owns the property. I expect that - for H & S reasons - we will all be required to wear hard-hats and Hi-Viz jackets, just in case we are attacked by one of the vicious pigeons that have made the place their home.
I am going to fulfil my promise to you of a few months ago by taking a video camera and torch with me, so that I can give you a little tour as well. This will be a bright spot in dark times, albeit a dark spot in actuality. Some of the best bits of Bath are about 20 feet below the surface because - as I have said before - the Georgians didn't believe in digging out tons of earth and rock to make their wine cellars. They brought tons of rock into the city centre and built upwards, casting the ancient streets into perpetual darkness.
And some of those streets are bloody ancient - pre Roman in many cases. I worked down in the Temple Precinct of the Roman Baths shortly before it was opened to the public, and often followed the example of local rats by creeping down the maze of tunnels and conduits which criss-cross the area, well below the original Roman street level.
One day, I went down a large, dark passage, attracted by a feint light and the smell of steam. The light got brighter as the roar of a small waterfall became louder, and I eventually broke out into a hot and wet area which was painted red by iron-rich mineral deposits.
I stood facing the mouth of the Great Spring and watched the water pouring over it's lip for a while, before turning around to see a coach load of Japanese tourists all staring down at me as if I were a water-sprite. A hot water-sprite.
Somewhere, on a Japanese mantle-shelf, there is probably a photo of me staring up like Gollum, my red-eyes matching the colour of the surrounding stonework.