I am still rather vague, I said to Amy, about the second half of the Great Secret Miss Slumber Party.
Like all good parties. If you remember it, you not there.
Yes, they said that about the Sixties, but look at all the volumes of reminiscences hitting the bookshops in time for Christmas. And most good parties provide incidents to remember, if not a narrative. I don’t remember much at all. There was the better half leaving with the Dawn Chorus of the Unattached. She told me that they had already drunk the kefir and that they soon peeled off, most of them, some of them taking refuge in late-night bars and others finding benches to sleep on. I remember Parrot’s awful snores: not much more. Did you stay awake?
Oh yes. For a time.
So what else happened?
Tell me first about Thumper.
We had had a few days of Mariah Carey cover versions: different songs but you know how with Mariah Carey they all sound the same. They were always phoned through early in the morning. The better half was usually still dozing. Never a word introduced them; and no word afterwards: only the snap of Lycra replaced and the quiet breaking of the connection. Then there were a couple of days when there was no call, as if something major was in the offing. I guessed as much, and I told the better half to be prepared to record the next communication when it came.
It was just as well. He performed I Will Always Love You as recorded by Whitney Houston, but with a reckless coloratura that even she would have envied. It must have torn him apart: his anal sphincter if not his whole sensitive being.
I Will Always Love You that song with Harrison Ford as robot? said Amy.
Not Harrison Ford, not robot. He bodyguard, he Kevin Costner. Different film altogether. Harrison Ford robot in Blade Runner. No singing I Will Always Love You in Blade Runner.
In moments of stress I tended to take on her vocal mannerisms.
With sax solo?
He brave man. He arse bleeding tatters.
And since then nothing, I said. It must have been the climax. But what a song to end on. Eat your heart out Mariah Carey!
Why Mariah Carey eat own heart?
Not really. It’s just a saying.
Like ‘Dui niu tan qin’.
‘Dui niu tan qin’ in Mandarin?
But maybe it is not the end. Kurd Maverick was round the following evening and I played the better half’s recording to him. He said that he was gob-smacked. Actually, since he has lived in Germany for so long, his adjective was not ‘gob-smacked’ but something teutonically anal: not to be reproduced here but probably appropriate in the circumstances. Anyway, he made his own copy and said that he intended to sample it.
It’s astonishing, he said. That’ll be that. He won’t top it. You’ll hear no more from him.
Chance would be a fine thing, I said.
Of course, said Kurd Maverick, he may have pre-recorded it, stitched it together. But even so. That aching dying fall at the end! How does he do it! What genius! What muscle control!
He ask Dolly Parton permission? said Amy, sticking to the point and now prepared to acknowledge that she was familiar with the song. She write I Will Always Love You, not Whitney Houston.
He’s in touch with Universal Music, the publishers. They will administer the rights.
I wasn’t prepared to put up with Amy’s showing off.
(‘Dui niu tan qin’, by the way, literally means ‘to play music to a cow’, which is an expression that Chinese people sometimes use as we might say ‘to cast pearls before swine’. It was probably not an apt comparison but my command of colloquial Mandarin is sketchy at best.)
Anyway, enough of Thumper and his farts; tell me about the second half of the Great Secret Miss Slumber Party.
You seen The Porridge Man since then?
I think he gone for good too.
That’s sad. I like The Porridge Man.
Sad and not sad. I like The Porridge Man too. I tell you what happen.
Everyone took the kefir, but The Porridge Man didn’t. He held back. Amy too held back for half an hour, and then took hers. Everyone else dropped off to sleep, and soon to dream.
You dream! You legs twitch like you bloody sick dog on Dornoch bloody Firth!
Dreamily, when everyone else had gone to sleep and Amy was succumbing fast, he helped himself from the bowl. He helped himself liberally. The kefir ran down his ample chin. Contented gurgles came from within him. His face, formerly bland and wheaty, became softer. His voice became creamier. His limbs became indistinct.
I said, You imagined it. You were half asleep and half dreaming.
Possibly I imagine. But when I wake up – and I wake up first – he absolutely gone. Instead, two things. One, many bowls warm creamy porridge, but not sickly rich creamy porridge but sweet and sour creamy porridge, made with kefir. Delicious. Two, address of supply and pro forma order form.
He gave his life…
Maybe, maybe not. The Porridge Man never quite like us.
It’s a great idea: start the day the way you mean to end it.
Pft, said Amy. Anyway, Great Secret Miss now sell The Porridge Man kefir porridge.
And those were the two apotheoses.