Captain’s log on the USS-Enterprise (NC-1701); please forward to Mr Lush, City of Westminster.
Today, I am going to regale you with a short story. I recently found myself in Venice, searching for a watering hole. I come upon a small cellar door and suddenly I find myself in a warm room with a counter and some nocturnal creatures. I feel a tug on my sleeve and whom do I encounter but that old companion of Lord Flyte, the irreplaceable Aloysius!
Aside, just between you and me: he might not be the sprightly young cub he once was (a few stitches looser than they were and a bit of stuffing visible here and there), but otherwise he is the same old Aloysius.
One thing you have to concede is that he has always managed to pick up young boys whom just can’t seem to keep their hands off him. Still ever the libeartine. And, yes, before you ask, they do all resemble Lord Flyte, at least physically. I had occasion to observe this phenomenon on that evening. Not fifteen minutes after reuniting with Aloysius, a boy no older than twenty brought his smile over to our table, along with two stiff drinks. At first, he was a bit surprised to find a cat in his seat, albeit a South American one. However, as my father always used to say: ‘If you’re out with a teddy bear, anything can happen.’ He quickly asked for my drink of choice and rushed off to the bar.
Aloysius winked at me. ‘Isn’t he just a gem?’ I nodded and inquired at which palazzo he had picked him up. Aloysius just smiled. ‘He’s from Berlin, not Venice’. Ah, so even old Aloysius has been taken in by Berlin’s charms. To be polite (not out of curiosity, I know the risks all too well), I asked what the circumstances were of their meeting. He tells me he was looking for a gift when he came upon a tailor’s shop: ‘Name of Fogg or Facsimile Fogg, something like that. It’s not important. It was there I first laid eyes on my gem, happy as Larry in his new suit. Well, you know me… ever spontaneous, I jumped in his jacket pocket. The rest, as they say, is history. This is our first trip together.’ The evening was your typical fare with a bear: sparkling conversation and much airing of others’ dirty laundry.
However, there was one particular event worth recounting. The young gallant had just stepped out for a moment and Aloysius’ tone became more conspiratorial. He first explained that today’s suits are a much better method of transport than what he had been used to in his youth. ‘It’s the fabrics. Much lighter and softer.’ Then began his lament about the suits’ contents. I wasn’t quite sure what he meant and expressed as much. ‘When these boys aren’t busy discussing quarterly reports and sustainability, they’re fussing over self-optimisation or worshipping at the altar of their new Gods: their mobile phones. The old Gods used to only give a sign when it was strictly necessary, but these new things are always making unspeakable noises at the most inopportune moments. I swear to you that MORE THAN ONCE the thing vibrated in his pocket like a sex toy. Considering their constant engagement with their new religion, imagine my disappointment that these boys know nothing of good old-fashioned sin! Where are the pleasures of yesteryear? Say what you will of Flyte, but that boy was a most wonderful and reliable sinner. A truer companion I could never have found. This new lot are incapable of sinning, they are too busy attempting to better themselves or (Heaven forefend!) the whole world.’
I remarked: ‘The old lot just relied on their fathers’ beliefs and these new ones rely on their belief in their own godhood. I don’t see much difference.’ I had, as it were, poked the bear and he damn near screamed at me: ‘Ridiculous! They couldn’t be more different. One is Macbeth, while the other is the porter.’ I replied drily: ‘I’m a bit rusty on my Hegel, but I recall him saying that all great events in human history come to be twice. What he seems to have forgotten is that the first time is tragedy, while the second time is farce.’
At that point, the young gallant returned to announce that it was time to be going. Aloysius quickly finished his Sex on the Beach and made his way out into the Venice night with his companion.
Allow me to finish this apostle with a reading recommendation. Karl Marx’ The Eighteenth Brumaire of Louis Napoleon’ illustrates the idea of events recurring as farces beautifully. Ah, amico mio, how I long for the chimneys of London. I fear what the mice may have gotten up to in my absence.
In questo senso vi mando la mia sincera nostalgia di casa,