Monday, 20 January 2014

The Word of God?

I hate the Bible. It’s full of such deplorable, misogynistic, racist, judgemental shit it’s an embarrassment to anyone of a humanistic bent. But, god, I love the Bible too. It has some of the most beautiful poetry and inspiring passages of insight. Surely no-one can fail to be moved by the words, in whatever way they are presented. But it is, as I have said many times on this little piece of internet, open to uncountable, incredulous amounts of interpretation.

Many years ago, as a bare-faced adolescent, I read a passage of scripture in Church, and hadn’t the faintest clue what I was talking about. I’m not sure, many years hence, what the passage means, but this month it has come back to haunt me, like a trauma. So I will start this year’s bloggery, which I fancy isn’t going to be an easy ride, with a little bit of Bible. Make of it what you will: it’s up to you.

And since we’re onto the complications of interpretation, I will post the first of this year’s sequence, a bunch of rather silly semi-poetical (ie, prose-poem) pieces which fall under the title, Charlotte and the Charlatan – and other Cautionary Tales. The first was published in the second anti-zine, Circus, produced by those wonderful antisocial writers. I urge (nay, I demand) you buy the whole magazine. And look out for more of these quirky tales here on this site.
If you want, you might offer a suggestion to what they mean. God knows, I haven’t a clue.

Charlotte & The Charlatan


The Circus finally came to town on a Tuesday afternoon, with a caravan of clich├ęs and a rhythm without any tune. It arrived in time for the Shrovetide Fair (or was it in June, or September? Was it Easter or Christmas? Nobody cared, or any rate, no-one remembered.)

            When the Circus arrived it was later than dead, it was done-for and more-than-delayed; it was rotten and rotted, mouldy and useless, moth-ridden, diseased and decayed.

            Charlotte and The Charlatan went along to investigate. They turned up prematurely. The Circus was typically late.

            The trailers came in dribs and drabs (more drab than drib) slowly but surely. One by one they traipsed; then two by two they were introduced to the crew. The Wizard and Lottie discovered their tales were incredible: neither factual nor true. Far from contrived, or a con-trick, The Circus was simply deluded right through.

            The Head of the Clowns kept his smiles and his frowns in a plastic bag purchased from Aldi.  Suspiciously chipper, he claimed he was descended from Grimaldi.

            The Lion-Tamer, lacking a head, played a mean game of Russian Roulette. As a mimic, he put the Mime-Artist to shame, but suffered (fuck!) from (shit!) Tourette’s.

            The Tight-Rope Walker, aptly-named, was permanently pissed. He was tight as a tic, wired, high as a kite – it was more than his balance he missed.

            The Bearded Lady had had a close shave when the Freaks showed her up as a fraud. The Midgets and Giants took ill-matched sides and ganged up on the Dwarves.

            The Circus never saw themselves as failures – they were, indeed, most entertaining. But according to the Trade Descriptions Act, what the tin said wasn’t what they were claiming. 

            The public paid good money to see, and a spectacle’s just what they got. If they were expecting a show, show-business it was not.

            Were they deluded by grandeur, fooled by illusions, thinking themselves worthy, or simply corrupt? Either way, the Big Top was a big flop, and their departure, likewise, abrupt.

            The Charlatan said, The Circus weren’t failures, but part of a larger contagion. In Society, nothing is certain, not even the claims of established religion.

            Life’s a breeze if you can trapeze; a struggle if you can’t juggle. If your aim is only to please other people, your head can be left in a muddle. 

                The Circus departed, depressed, bankrupt, and Lottie was left with a lesson. Misfortunes and failures, lies and misdeeds, foibles and fears, and worst nightmares remain if you try to be something you’re not. The Circus became a vague memory to some; but for most, it was quickly-forgot.

            They left the town not a moment too soon on a wet Wednesday afternoon, with a caravan of broken delusions, and a rhythm without any tune.