December 13-17, 2001
Dear reader, we are home again! Actually we made it back to The Oriental late yesterday afternoon. It's now just a few minutes after midnight, Bangkok time, so there won't be anything from the Post or from Morton's darkroom for at least another half dozen hours.
Go have a drink ... and hurry back.
By the way, the staff gave us a nice "Welcome Home".
This Sicilian saint's legend provides a tragic illustration of two usual aspects of unmarried women's lives: their heroic devotion to their mothers and their intolerance of love-making. Lucy's mother suffered from an apparently incurable illness; and when, in that connection, they went on a pilgrimage, a recently martyred saint appeared to them and promised recovery for the mother on condition that Lucy be martyred. Without any of the official interference or popular brutality of the third century, this must often be the case.
Later, a young man who wanted to marry her told her that it was the brightness of her eyes which made it impossible for him to leave her in peace; so she tore them out and sent them to him in a dish. Non-Christians of a religious turn of mind are likely to be shocked by the end of the story as churchmen have told it or conceived it: the young man converted, the saint's eyes restored in all their brightness.
Wescott, for the same day, gives us another saint; one whom, also, had eye problems. But, like with Lucy, there was a happy ocular ending. However, neither life looks like one that anyone would envy.
This daughter of the Duke of Alsace was born blind. The duke wanted the troublesome little thing to left to die; but the nurse fled to a convent with her; and them moment she was christened, she was able to see. She spent her life praying for the forgiveness of her hasty father's sins.
Stepping back just one day, to the 12th, Malloy tells us:
Dearest reader, yesterday morning before leaving London I popped over to Christie's (South Kensington) to see what was 'up' with the winter corkscrew auction. Well, not much. Sure, there were a few good pieces ... but, not enough to hang around for. Perhaps I just wasn't in the mood. Anyway, while talking with Dennis Cox (Christie's man in charge of corkscrews) I chanced a glance into the next room; a bunch of deformed heads and hanging-out entrails caught my eye.
All this was part of "The William Bonardo Collection of Wax Anatomical Models" auction. According to Christie's catalog, William Bonardo and Lily Binda were "traveling carnivalists." Lily specialized in "physical anomalies" ... including the "elephant-man" from Algeria, the "lion-man" (appropriately named Lionel), "Atlas the Giant," "Bertha the Giant" (who stood 2.7m tall and weighed 185kg) and a woman with the head of a cow. Lily's most audacious exhibit was a woman who was just a head, but with the tentacles of an octopus.
Though Lily claimed education was her goal: "One did not come in order to laugh. It was a serious attraction. I saw men enter blind drunk, and leave stone-cold sober." ... European laws of the 1960's put an end to "freak-shows."1 So, Lily and Willy were forced to dump their live exhibits and roll out the plastic.
For the next few days I'll pepper my journal with some of the things that Christie's has under the hammer.
The cover of Christie's sales catalog leaves no doubt that its insides will be as graphic as promised. The display room in which the items are stacked is typically Christie's: small and crowded. Heads and entrails are cozy with one another. A 1920's marquee banner promises the viewer much. My first walkabout was not disappointing. Stay around; there will be more.
1 For those of us who grew up at a time when a circus was a real circus: where the "freak-show" tent was the place where every red-blooded boy went first ... well, those days are gone from America and Europe. Today one has to poke around the traveling carnivals of western China and East Africa to find God's little tricks. However, right here in Bangkok, one or two itinerant freaks can usually be found crawling on the sidewalks.
It is a beautiful morning in Bangkok!
The Peninsula, now rebuilt, has a wonderful view of the ... also, now rebuilt (restored?) ... French Embassy. How long has it been? Going on two years, I think. Yes, there is not much left to do before the movers start in with the furniture. You see, once the lawn is laid down ... well, that pretty much marks the end of the heavy work ... only the finishing touches remain [though that 'hole' does seem to be an ongoing problem]. I suppose it is a bit much to hope that we'll be invited to the 'opening'.
Wescott revisits the Po:
According to St. Gregory the Great, this Bishop of Piacenza, at a time when the Po was in flood, asked one of his deacons to warn it to stay within bounds. The reasonable deacon would not undertake any such hopeless business. So the bishop himself wrote a letter to the river, emphasizing especially the inviolability of church property, had it sworn by a notary,3 and threw it into the flood; and the great stream did as it was told.
By now all of the lots at Christie's have probably been hauled away by the new owners. But, as promised yesterday, we'll continue with our walkabout before either the buyers or Cadogan Tate Limited (the official warehousers and shippers for Christie's) finally remove the stuff from our view.4
1 My readers will remember Watcharee's visit to his memorial ... just days ago; the same day that we paused in front of the statute of Queen Victoria, at Kensington Palace.
2 A Norwegian coup, yes! But, readers are encouraged to return to these pages tomorrow when we must nod to a sadder anniversary. Tomorrow, however, will not be all glum words: Londoners will have something to raise their glass to. But, shades will be drawn and curtains pulled for ... well ... wait, I am getting ahead of things.
3 Americans are generally 'amused' by notaries. Usually found in the bottom drawer, near check-cashing stores, never proud of their position and often given their temporal 'power' by paying just a few dollars ... no, their niche is not a proud one. In ancient times ... and, even today, in foreign countries ... notaries carry great clout; right up there with lawyers.
4 The 'views': some are mine; some are from the Christie's sales catalog.
A day for tears?
For some, yes! For the callous: indifference. For a cruel few: relish!
But, Londoners have something to be cocky about: in 1906 the Piccadilly Tube opened. In Paris, too, there is deserved joy: Gustav Eiffel, engineer, was born in 1832.
Here worldwide glee, for his followers (now mostly very old or very dead) knew no borders:
Continuing our walkabout at Christie's, today we look at back, head, nose and arm problems. Also, a realistic test for ammunition.2
For newcomers, you should jump back a day or so to see where we have been. All of this has to do with "Un Spectacle"; something "Unique". Shall we move on?
|Good news everyone! Don "the Mirth" Bull is on his way to Bangkok. As the #2 Charter/Founding member of the Patpong Corkscrew Club, his presence at the very first PCC AGM (scheduled for December 19th) will give credence to an organization that, frankly, up until now has been viewed as something of an oddity by mainstream corkscrew collecting cartels. Bull's lengthy power-association with the ICCA and the CCCC3 will go a long way to seeing to it that the PCC gets a fair chair at the big round table.|
1 A few years ago Linda Santarelli and I visited the site of his murder: a house in St. Petersburg, Russia (formerly, Leningrad, USSR).
2 Long before all this PC nonsense about limiting your test shots to anesthetized pigs.
3 To say nothing of his own creation: a mid-Atlantic or mid-Virginia or mid-Appalachia something-or-other that also has corkscrews.
Subj: Re: PCC meeting
Date: 12/15/2001 11:42:02 AM SE Asia Standard Time
I'm somewhere in Nebraska now. Terrible snowstorm here. We had to land in a farmer's field. He put us up for the night. We had to promise not to fool around with his daughter.
Will keep you posted on progress.
Subj: Re: PCC meeting
Date: 12/15/2001 12:02:07 PM SE Asia Standard Time
Our prayers are with you. May God's hands gently cradle you on your journey across the Great Plains of America.
"To the Patpongettes whose work whose use all men confess who love their juice." 1, 2, 3As you can see from the date stamp,4 "Mirth" Bull managed to break off his farmhouse liaison sometime before the farmer's cock sounded the alarm.
Subj: Bull progress
Date: 12/15/2001 9:14:12 PM SE Asia Standard Time
We took off early this morning and as we did a loop around the farm, the farmer ran out of his house pulling his bluejean bib suit on with one hand and shaking his fist at us with the other. And from the upstairs bedroom window, the farmer's daughter was throwing us kisses.
Again the weather forced us to put down. After a short flight from the North Platte, Nebraska area farm, we landed at a ski resort near Denver. We're now sitting in the lodge drinking beer brewed from mountain spring water and nibbling on Rocky Mountain oysters. The forecast is for clearer skies this afternoon so we should soon be on our way again.
Will keep you posted on progress.
A Burgundian teacher of sacred and profane sciences, the author of a famous martyrology, and a history of the world, from the beginning of time up to date.6
Today's walkabout in the Christie's salesrooms looks at some of the worries of women. Some are as inconsequential as venting the esophagus; some are more cosmetic (and a mighty big range here); the middle two deal with baby making. One handles "Big C." Shall we?
1 Credit for this goes to Don "the Mirth" Bull. It's his proposed toast to the original charter/founding members of the Patpong Corkscrew Club. Ohmy, Amma and Gift, though not the first card carrying PCC members were the first (giggling all the while) to pull on their new club shirts.
2 "To the bottlescrew, whose worth whose use all men confess who love the juice." [The original toast]
3 "To the corkscrew, for allowing us to get at the contents of the bottle without having to actually break off the neck." [What the original toast means]
4 "SE Asia Standard Time" is a full 12 hours ahead of the Wirtz time zone. The difference between clocks in Wirtz and Nebraska is unknown to me ... but, I'll guess it at 2. Denver may, as well, be 2 hours from Wirtz. If so, then the Bull flying machine must have flown away from the farm some hours before the sun was up. Of course, we have to factor in the actual flying time ... but, that way lays madness. Let's just be happy that the man is now resting somewhere with a beer in hand.
5 Probably no longer a day for fireworks and Champagne and lawn parties.
6 "Much Ado about ... "
7 If untreated it gets worse ... much worse.
PS. This just in from "Mirth" Bull ... do you remember that he told us he was kicked back in Denver enjoying a cold beer and some "Rocky Mountain oysters"?
Well, the man has just cabled us a photograph of some of these strange oysters. Does this look like something that should be in the Christie's catalog? I think so!
I really must postpone our tour of the Christie's salesrooms to bring you ... without interruptions by either NEWNES or Wescott ... these cables from "Mirth" Bull.
Much has happened to the man since his little 'indiscretions' with the farmer's daughter in Nebraska. The poor timing of his arrival at The Mustang Ranch ... storms on the American west coast ... 'explanations' to his long suffering wife, Bonnie ... the horrible plane crash in Iceland ... and God only knows what other things he will have to endure before he arrives in Patpong. But, Don has a dream that he will be here!
Read on, oh dear reader ... let him tell his story (along with a small bit from his wife):
Subj: Landed in Nevada
Date: 12/16/2001 5:11:12 AM SE Asia Standard Time
After filling up on those Rocky Mountain Oysters, we finally got a break in the weather and took off once again on our journey to the PCC. We flew over the Rockies and had a smooth flight until we got to Nevada where we were brought down by some cyclonic dust storms. We landed at the Mustang Ranch near Reno and thought it might be a good place to spend the night. We asked a raggedy man wandering in the fields for lodging and he simply mumbled something about losing his investment in 1999 when the place when under.
Alas, much to our chagrin, the ranch had lost its previous charm. The girls have been replaced by tumbleweeds and prickly cacti.
We still have a few hours of daylight so we're going to try to get airborne again and shoot for overnight in San Francisco.
Never fear. We'll be at the meeting!
btw...I have been referring to "we" in my trip progress messages. My co-pilot, Fritz, is a veteran pilot who has fought in several wars. I know I could not possibly make this trip without him. I do think he should be considered for honorary membership in the PCC.
Subj: West Coast Storms
Date: 12/16/2001 10:32:26 AM SE Asia Standard Time
No doubt you've heard about the weather on the West Coast. This from CNN:
Snow, rain to slam U.S. West Coast
Wind, rain and snow threatened to hamper weekend activities Saturday on the U.S. West Coast. The National Weather Service issued high wind warnings for the Los Angeles and Ventura counties in California, while heavy snow and rain was predicted for Oregon and Washington.
In my last report, I told you we were planning to go to San Francisco and if you keep up with weather news, you may have sent up even more prayers for us. Worry not, almighty PCC head! We've done an about face and have decided to fly East to Bangkok instead of West. We took off from Nevada and had a super tailwind speed us Eastward and we have now put down for the night in the comfort of home in Greater Wirtz (http://www.bullworks.net/virtual/newstuff/wirtz.htm).
Tomorrow we shall start our journey anew with a flight plan to Goose Bay, Labrador, on to Ireland and the British Isles, continuing Southeast to Istanbul, then across the mideast, over Afghanistan, and onward to Thailand. Fritz assures me that we will be there for the meeting!
Subj: Goose Bay
Date: 12/17/2001 1:30:20 AM SE Asia Standard Time
We stopped off in Goose Bay.
We're outta here.
Subj: Message from Bonnie Bull
Date: 12/17/2001 4:39:11 AM SE Asia Standard Time
4:45PM EST - Bonnie Bull logged on to Don's home computer
I was really surprised when Don showed up yesterday. He told me the story of his adventure (or misadventure) in trying to get to the PCC meeting. He said the 1140 air miles from Wirtz to Nebraska was tough, the 304 on to Breckenridge wasn't bad, and except for the sandstorm the 731 miles trip to Reno wasn't OK. When he made the decision to go East instead of West, he said he had a very fortunate tailwind guiding him back the 2140 miles to Wirtz.
He left very early this morning and was headed for Goose Bay, Labrador. Thank God he has Fritz with him. I don't think he could find his way on his own! He left his flight plan for me to relay to you:
Wirtz - Goosebay: 1450 air miles
Goosebay - Reykjavick: 1540
Reykjavik - Dublin: 924
Dublin - Prague 902
Prague - Istanbul 902
Istanbul - Amman 748
Amman - Kuwait 721
Kuwait - Rawalpindi 1500 (I am worried about them flying over Tora Bora)
Rawalpindi - Kathmandu 833
Kathmandu - Bangkok 1370
I have no idea how they will accomplish that before the 19th but they certainly are determined to get to the PCC meeting.
Have a hot bath waiting for them, ok?
Subj: Good news and bad news
Date: 12/17/2001 6:28:30 AM SE Asia Standard Time
Well we got out of the cold of Goose Bay and headed for Reykjavik, Iceland. The bad news is that we crash-landed at the Reykjavik airport. Our little plane was totaled. I got out without a scratch but poor Fritz, my co-pilot, was rushed off to the hospital with a broken leg, a broken arm, and an ulcerated left ear. We've said our goodbyes and wished him well. He wished me a good ongoing journey and sends apologies to the PCC.
The good news is that I ran in to my old friend Bernie Schwartz at the airport. I asked him to lend me a hand. It turns out he is now the right arm to some high-up mucky muck in the military and he found me a seat on a jet for Frankfurt in the morning.
For now Bernie and I are going out for some Puffin Stew and bottles of Viking Beer! To the Patpongettes...!
Next: Part II