Thursday, 18 April 2013

The Winter Spectacle

© The Winter Spectacle

Nancy Collins stopped outside St Hilda’s church and marvelled at the sight of the thousands of people thronging Katoomba Street. 

            ‘What a spectacle’, she mused. ‘All these people here for the Winter Magic Festival – I wonder what the religious zealots, who write into the Gazette, will make of it this year. All that palaver about the feral festival; invoking evil spirits and witch’s covens...’
            ‘Sorry love’, Patrick interjected, ‘Were you speaking to me?’
            ‘ Patsy, just idle thoughts, at least I thought they were just thoughts’. ‘I’ll really have to be a bit more diligent’, Nancy admonished herself,”Engage conscious mind before opening face portal”, as the Prime Unit is forever saying ... ‘

It also brought to mind something else the Prime Unit had imparted, “Don’t make a spectacle of yourself; now is not the time!” It had been some years since Nancy’s conversion and yet Patrick barely seemed to comprehend that she was not the same person she once was. Patrick just thought that she’d “got a dose of religion”, as if it was some sort of malady that would eventually right itself.  Patrick, as a lapsed Catholic, considered himself to be some sort of expert. The point was, of course, that Nancy hadn’t just got religion; she’d undergone a complete makeover, rather like ‘being rejuvenated as in a television home improvement programme’ as she herself imagined. Nevertheless, Patrick did not object, declaring that “everyone should have a hobby and Nance has found hers”, in a smug, self-serving way to friends at dinner parties. And some of their friends agreed with him but wisely kept their counsel. ‘Personally, I’ll stick with astronomy’ he confided. Nancy, however, harboured quite secret and far-reaching plans.

The only hint of annoyance that Patrick revealed was to remark one day to Nancy that “You’ve become a bit anal-lytical of everything, Nance; lighten up a bit!”  Indeed, Nancy conceded that the Prime Unit, as the source of her re-education, was a ‘bit pompous and aloof’ and had actually said so to him at the last meeting. The Prime Unit had not the slightest notion what she meant and in turn had puzzled about it for some weeks. On the whole, however, Patrick’s non-interest in Nancy’s ‘gatherings’ suited her purposes and those of ‘the trust’ for the moment.

“There’ll be time enough to reveal our real mission”, the Beta Unit confided to her at the last meeting, “And Patrick will be next one to experience enlightenment – you’ll see, it’s inevitable!” Nancy rather thought it would take more than mere words to persuade Patrick, who despite being a star-gazer was a pragmatist, to accept the inevitable. ‘It is inevitable – isn’t it?”

‘What’s inevitable Nance?’ asked Patrick.

‘Oh no, I’ve done it again’ thought Nancy. ‘Err... sorry Patsy, just chewing over something the prime un ... I mean, the minister had to say recently’.

‘Did you say Prime? Struth Nance, I thought surely the Prime Minister hasn’t joined your mob as well’, he laughed. ‘I thought she was an agnostic. What is it you call yourselves again – The Illuminated Trust of the Sacred Bleedin’ Nose of Yeswah?’ And he laughed even louder at his own witticism. ‘Gees, look at the witch outfit that little girl’s got on’, his attention momentarily sidetracked. ‘Anyway, what’s inevitable?’

‘You know full well that we’re known simply as the Trust, Patrick”. Nancy replied crisply. ‘I would’ve thought you’d come up with something new instead of flogging that old chestnut’.

‘And that, m’dear is a mixed metaphor, if I’m not mistaken. For the third time: what’s inevitable?” he asked again good-naturedly.  ‘Hey, look at the little fairy – isn’t she cute?’

‘Oh you know Patrick, one of these nights, you’ll probably encounter something quite out of the ordinary when you drive out to Narrow Neck or Mount York road – or where ever you decide to go, to check out the alignment of the planets’. Her good humour restored. ‘Maybe you’ll be taken by aliens’, she added mischievously. ‘Little green men would really appreciate a green point of view - that’s inevitable!’

‘Yeah, right ... and it’s inevitable that Tony Abbot will finally accept that climate change is real and do something for the country, instead of wringing his hands and bewailing the damned economy all the time. If action isn’t taken soon there won’t be any economy and the aliens can have the damn planet!  Bipartisanship isn’t giving into the devil you know ...’ Clearly, Patrick was about to climb up on his ‘save-the-environment’ soapbox once more.

Nancy’s eyes rolled skyward. Realising her mistake, she quickly nipped his ‘green’ sermon in the bud. ‘Give it a rest will you Patsy?’ she countered. ‘You know damn well you’re pitching to the wrong audience; I’ve been in the ‘green’ camp even longer than you have. Please let’s just concentrate on the witches and fairies for once instead of the poltergeists and their blasted shortcomings!’ she pleaded.

‘Sorry sweetheart’, replied Patrick, who was actually heartily sick of the subject, after watching a somewhat desultory edition of Q & A, where the climate change sceptics seemed to be well represented ‘Let’s go find a café and watch the passing parade. You never know, we might see one or two ‘aliens’ go past’. It’s quite a Winter spectacle this year. isn’t it?’ ‘Remember the year when it snowed? Now that was truly spectacular!’

‘Yeah that’d be great – a cappuccino would hit the spot right now’, Nancy smiled at Patrick and took his arm as they wandered down Katoomba Street; marvelling at the fact they could walk down the middle of the street without being menaced by traffic.  She caught a glimpse of herself in a shop window and just for a split second she noted a dark aura around her head and her eyes looked golden. But she wasn’t concerned. No one had noticed and even if they did, people would assume it just was some silly middle aged woman dressed up for the festival. The image would immediately disappear from the memory – the Prime Unit had thought of everything! “Don’t make a spectacle of yourself; now is not the time!” Still ... now might be Patrick’s time – she’d bring it up at the next meeting.

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