The Convent Fair and what happened there

My dears, this story, being a religious story, is almost certainly not suitable for children – unless, of course, you have the sort of troublesome child who could stand, every now and then, to read a few well placed words about the wrathful vengeance of God (or Gods, depending on your preference).

The other day, I referred to an incident involving Chris Christie and Ann Coulter, but fobbed you all off in favor of cake. However, I am not one to ever renege on my promises, explicit or implied, and so I will sit down to tell you the story. I do warn you – it is a long, dark and convoluted tale which contains scenes of a most distressing nature, and which I suspect will be told with every sign of relish and conspicuous attention to detail. Some of this is very serious, but there may be the occasional bit of whimsy and a little sprinkle of mucus to lighten the mood.

That’s religion for you.

Those of you of a weak or panty-waisted nature and those who complain about any story longer than 140 characters (but I repeat myself) should get out now. Off you fuck.

If you are still with me, check the bedrooms to make sure no one has kidnapped your kiddies in the last ten minutes, pour yourself a drink and sit yourself down in your comfortable chair, and I will tell you all about the 2010 Annual Fair at the Convent of St. Fidelis of Sigmaringen in Spokane.

The Convent of St. Fidelis of Sigmaringen, as any local will tell you, usually in words of less than two syllables, is the Chapter House of the Little Brown Sisters of the Gaping Maw. The Sisters are a mendicant order and, every day, be it frostily gloaming or nice and sunny, they sally forth from the Convent into the steep, narrow, and crooked streets of Spokane. There they devote themselves to doing all kinds of good and giving works among the degraded population of this impoverished area of Washington state.

The Convent is a towering, gambrel-roofed thing, walled off from the world, a curiously joyless collection of spires and tiny windows that looks as if it has a permanent grudge. Just imagine Dick Cheney in building form and you’re pretty close. It nestles into the edge of the Spokane River, somewhere on the outskirts of town among a number of the crumbling, worm-eaten factories that litter the waterfront, factories abandoned since the joint FDA/CDC raids back in 2007-8, and only now beginning to show signs of a sluggishly revived existence.

The river is quite close to the Convent, its water lapping sleepily at the shore and at the low black reef near the edge of the river and sometimes, at night, at the bricks at the base of the Chapel wall, there beneath the Sisters’ sleeping cells.

The Annual Fair, or Annual Fête as it used to be known before Americans unanimously decided that foreign words were scary in about 2001 and we had to change it, is the Sisters’ major fundraising event, and often quite entertaining. It is always frightfully British, you see, which takes me back to my childhood (only without the emotionally-crippled mother and the twice-monthly early -morning bedroom visits from Mr Snuggles).

There’s always a Tilt-A-Whirl, often manned by a gap-toothed adonis in a torn undershirt with gold-dusted abdominals and taste for frottage. There are donkey rides and cake stalls and even a coconut shy, although I have always thought the coconut shy to be the worst thing at a fair because if you win you get a fucking coconut. The Sisters sell vegetable produce and jams and fake relics of St Fidelis that they have made, and my friend Jane Robinson always dresses up in a turban and charges $2 for Protestant Palm Readings – she just tells everyone they are going to hell. There are sack-races and egg-and-spoon races, and if you sneak around the back of the Refreshments stall, you can smoke the finest Afghanistani opium sold by dark and furtive houris who speak only the tongue of the blue-eyed fishers. $76 for two hours of transitory cosmic enlightenment is quite a good deal really.

2010 was the centenary of the foundation of the Convent of the Little Brown Sisters by Father Brigham Howard on April 30, 1910. Brigham was my great-uncle, and the black sheep of the family, sent away from Cambridge years before I was born on account of his nefarious and unspoken-of deeds. He had arrived in Spokane in 1909, a thirty-something blond-haired charmer with a contagious smile and a heavy hand with the Blood of Christ, at the head of a group of 15 stunning, curvaceous and quite fervently religious young Catholic nuns. Within a few months, Brigham had purchased land and been elected as a County Commissioner, and construction of the Convent was well underway. Brigham was very active in Spokane life, and many people came to listen to him preach and or to deliver brown paper bags to the Commissioner’s office. However, the Sisters were rarely seen. They lived as an almost entirely monastic order, spending every day in service to their god. Brigham himself, I am told, seemed to grow old very quickly after his sixtieth birthday, his body breaking down within weeks as he retreated more and more into the Convent. He was, of course, buried in the chapel.

Early one spring morning, soon after Brigham had died, all of the nuns came out of the gates of the convent. There were 24 of them by this time, Brigham having actively recruited from within the more more buxom-and-brunette section of the local population. They were all still beautiful, although among the original 15 there were some about whom it might be said there was a hint of something sullen and almost piscine around the gills, an extra little girdle of fat around the middle, that taken together made one think of wallowing or, perhaps, of eyes peeping above the surface of a waterhole.

The Sisters each wore a simple white dress, each carried a basket, packed with vegetables and the flat-eyed, white fish they had caught in the river the evening before. Each Sister knocked on a door, at a factory or a house, introduced themselves and proffered gifts appropriate to the particular resident, as they have every morning since.

You can imagine that the Fair (yes, I’m getting back to the Fair – I told you there would be conspicuous attention to detail) is therefore quite an important part of the Spokane social calendar, and for the Centenary, the Sisters had pulled out all the stops, inviting all sorts of special guests.

Late in the day, I was walking through the Fair with Sister Bertram and Ann Coulter – Ann and I are old friends, although I do get tired of her constant whinging about how no one “gets her as parody”. What can I say? Ann is a good looking woman with a taste for the wrinklies and sometimes Grammy likes a hate-fuck. I don’t let her talk.

Sister Bertram is the Mother Superior of the convent, although she transferred here only recently from the Arkham convent. I don’t dare to tell her, but she smells a bit like a lobster. A raw lobster, of course – I wouldn’t mind if she smelled like bisque. I have always been a little suspicious of her – there is something unblinking to her eyes that I find most disconcerting.

The Fair had been a success. The Archbishop had managed to make his opening ceremony speech without calling anyone a whore, Pastor Huckabee had been dunked into the three-throws-for-10-dollars slime pit dunking machine at least fifteen times during his half an hour shift, Condoleezza Rice had broken her ankle in the greasy-pig chase, and several youngsters were copulating frantically in the shadow of the chapel after eating one of Grammy’s special strawberry and cream cakes. All that was left was the special closing event in the chapel and later, if all went well, the ceremonial stoning of the adulteresses in the parking lot of the next-door Seven Eleven.

Over to our left, the carny was enticing Chris Christie onto the Tilt-A-Whirl for “just one spin”, even though the ride was deserted and dusk had already begun to trickle into the spaces between the tents. Christie was clearly unwilling, but there was a photographer nearby and so he gingerly shoehorned himself into the tiny seat. The carny swung down the retaining bar and then, the bar not clicking into place, bodily reached into the car, lifted up an armful of Chris, popped the bar under and let all that stomach flop down again. The carny walked over to start the ride and pressed the start button, giving me a huge wink as he did. I rolled my eyes at him. As we continued on towards the chapel, I could see the light from the setting sun strike Christie each time he was whirled around, feel an odd, electrical burr in the ground below my feet, a vibration that seemed to increase slightly as the ride began to spin faster.

We were almost the last to arrive. The nuns were all seated in a semi-circle around the chancel, around the glittering black stone tablet that covered the corpse of Brigham Howard, with all the townspeople gathered behind them in their pews. Sister Bertram nodded to us and went over to stand before the grave. Pastor Huckabee and Ms Rice were seated on a row of chairs in front of the altar along with various local dignitaries. As Ann and I came in, the Pastor gestured to the seat next to him. I shook hands with him and murmured some pleasantry as I sat.

Sister Bertram voiced, at length, her thanks to everyone for the successful day. She was scrabbling in the pocket at the front of her dress, and as she spoke she drew out a little black statue, no bigger than her hand. It was human in shape, but where it glittered in the red sunlight streaming through the barred windows of the chapel we could all see the curve of its long head, the rubberiness of the knots of thick, ropy stuff that curved out from its jaw. The thought that it looked like a Cher action-figure rushed into my head, but I quickly dispelled it.

I had seen the like of the statue only once before – in Egypt during the war, clutched in Hermann Göring’s fat sweaty hand as he boarded a plane for Berlin which had I arrived far too late to stop.

Now Sister Bertram had ceased waving it in the air. She knelt and placed it on Brigham’s grave and it made a sharp metallic click as the two stones touched.

I looked at Huckabee with an expression of alarm on my face. He peered at me vaguely as I made frantic signals with my eyebrows towards a heavy gold candlestick that was sitting on the floor near his foot. I was distracted then by a high pitched cry of fear coming in to the chapel from outside, the sound dopplering each time the Governor was whisked past the door. At the same time, that electric buzz seemed to ratchet up a peg and spread to the air, making the chairs vibrate and my false teeth ache.

A young sister, her eyes now a gimlet green and staring lidlessly, her lips slack and drooling – a little like Peggy Noonan first thing in the morning – handed Sister Bertram a book. I could see it was the hideous Necronomicon of the mad Arab Obama Alhazred, the edition published in the eighteenth century by Carolus Steinberg – the one with the fold out diagrams and the pop up orgy scenes where you can twiddle a paper knob and make the devil rut harder or the eyeballs pop out of the sinners’ skulls. Sister Bertram began to read.

Then I felt something press against my leg. I looked down and, thankfully, it was the candlestick. I clasped it firmly and nodded thanks to Huckabee. For a moment I simply held my breath and waited. Eternities seemed to elapse. As Sister Bertram read, some of the members of the crowd began to stand up and call out as a nauseous fishy odour mounted over the room.

Sister Bertram slammed the book shut and cried out, “Ph’nglui mglw’nafh Cthulhu R’lyeh wgah’nagl fhtagn.”

While she was still wiping the spittle off her forehead, Huckabee leapt to his feet, shouting, “Hold there, you monstrous strumpet of hell”. He started to advance on Sister Bertram, but found himself swung around from behind, one arm and then the other clamped in two hellish grips. He gazed into the dead eyes of Ann Coulter and Condoleezza Rice. Both were suddenly bloated and green, their skin mottled and flaking. It was just like the paintings they both keep in their attics had been simultaneously seized and stabbed right up from top to bottom.

Huckabee spluttered at them, “What are you doing, you vile harridans?”

When they spoke, one into each of his ears, their voices were as one voice, low and dark and sultry, and echoes struck off the walls like drips of dark water.

“The dark moon Yuggoth is in alignment with the earth. In his house at R’lyeh dead Cthulhu waits dreaming. You will couple with us both, and the Old Gods will arise.”

Huckabee looked frightened then. He let out a whimper that bounced from wall to wall, mingling with the choked wails that still filtered through the chapel door from outside.

It was time for me to do something. I stepped forward, the look of fear again on my face, but with the candlestick brandished in one hand. A look of relief flashed over Huckabee’s features and he struggled and managed to break his arm away from Ann Coulter for a second. His expression didn’t have time to change to one of surprise before I whopped him on his stupid fat skull with the candlestick and he slumped to the ground, bleeding from his temple.

Good heavens dears, is that the time? I’ve been invited to a late supper with George Clooney and I do want to get there before he bogarts all the coke. Besides, you should all be in bed by now, happily procreating for when god comes with his terrible hunger.

I’ll have to finish this story later, I am afraid. Is next Saturday night good for you?

[Cross posted at Balloon Juice.]

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Going Galt (Kitchen edition)

There are days, kiddies, when I tire of politics and the heady whirl, and the thought of suffering through another fifteen pages of Kathryn Jean Lopez whining about young girls wearing makeup is enough to make me want to remove my own hand so I can’t operate the mouse any more.

There are days when I can’t muster the strength to tell you the story of the time when Chris Christie got stuck on the Tilt-A-Whirl at the Convent of St. Fidelis of Sigmaringen’s Annual Fair and ended up vomiting on Ann Coulter’s head during the ceremonial stoning of the adulteresses in the carpark out the back, despite the pleasure I know such a story would bring to you all.

Today is one such day. The final straw this morning was Jonah Goldberg offering congratulations to Ben Fucking Shapiro at the Corner on that basis that Ben has apparently:

gotten a whole bunch of liberal Hollywood muckety mucks to confess their very liberal agenda

in his new book, in addition to not soiling himself in public for five whole days. The Hollywood Reporter quotes several of the more shocking revelations from Ben’s book, including that:

MASH had a pacifist agenda, says co-creator and director Gene Reynolds. “We wanted to point out the wastefulness of war,” he says in the book.

Be still, my barely beating heart – a fine piece of investigative journalism that surely rivals the time Peggy Noonan photocopied her own vomit and sold it to the Washington Post as a hard-hitting expose of alcoholism in the news-media.

Peggy, by the way, is channelling Andrew Sullivan:

Democrats, on the other hand, should be forced to answer a question. If you oppose the highly specific Ryan plan, fine, but tell us your specific proposal. How will you save Medicare? Will you let it die?

questions to which my considered and carefully expressed response is “Screw you, you drunken asshole”.

On days like this, I like to bake, and I hope you won’t mind me sharing a recipe with you. You may need the distraction as much as I do.

Today I have been pottering around my charming kitchenette – I have grey granite benchtops, by the way, and Halston oven mitts which are the same cerise color as my refrigerator – cooking a little recipe which I snaffled from Julia Child. I don’t mean I cadged it from Mastering the Art of French Cooking, although I’m sure it’s in there. I mean I managed to grab it out of Julia’s pocket one evening in Paris when she was trapped under a drunken Simone Beck. There. Don’t say I never do anything for you. Now you’ve got a free recipe and you don’t have to watch that Julie and Julia crap either.

Julia calls it “Pommes Normande en Belle Vue” which is posh for “baked apple pudding”.

You need 2 pounds of apples, a little bit of water, the finely grated rind of a lemon, a cup and a half of sugar or so (depending on how sweet your apples are), a big slosh of brandy (I like to use Pommeau de Normandie because I’m dead fancy), a tablespoon of butter and two whole eggs plus one egg white.

Julia says that you need to have a two and a half pint, cylindrical fireproof mould but frankly, who the fuck would have one of those? I use a little rectangular perspex baking dish.

Set your oven to 400 degrees.

The first stage is to line whatever you are cooking the pudding in with caramel, just like a creme caramel, so that when you unmould it the pudding has a brown glaze and a delicious caramel sauce.

Put three quarters of a cup of sugar in a little saucepan with enough water to just wet it, turn up the gas pretty high and let it bubble until the water dissolves and the sugar melts and darkens. If it starts to burn in any spots, swirl the saucepan until the sugar mixes together. Don’t stir it or the sugar will crystalize, and for God’s sake don’t get it on yourself. I like both my caramel and my men dark brown, but it’s really up to you.

When the caramel has reached your preferred shade, pour it into your dish and then (wearing oven mitts, please) quickly tilt the mould around until the caramel has set and covered the whole of the inside. Then put it aside for later.

Peel the apples and chop them into quarters. Put them in a big saucepan with a little water, cover on a low heat and simmer for 20 minutes until the apple is soft and starting to fall apart. Stir in the lemon rind and the rest of the sugar. You can put a big pinch of cinnamon in at this point if you like.

Then turn up the heat and boil the mixture for about five minutes, stirring all the time, until you have a very thick apple sauce. Whisk in the alcohol and the butter and, when the butter has melted, the eggs one by one. You’ll need to be quick so the egg white doesn’t start to cook, but if you end up with some little bits of cooked white, just whisk until they go away.

Pour the mixture into your baking dish, stick the baking dish in a larger baking dish and stick the lot in the oven. Pour boiling water into the outside dish three quarters of the way up the side of the inside dish and let it cook for an hour. It should puff up quite nicely. If it is browned on top put a piece of baking paper over it, and then cook for up to another half an hour until it seems quite set and starts to pull away from the edge of the baking dish.

This is wonderful hot and spooned out of the dish, or you can put it in the refrigerator overnight and then turn it out onto a plate for serving. It is really quite delicious – light and yet full of the flavor of the apples.

This picture may not look particularly appetizing, but if you pair this it a nice ice cream (like my never fail vanilla and poached pear), you will have to beat the family off with sticks. I was going to unmould it and take a picture of that, but I said ‘Fuck it” and ate the damn thing.

The pudding is quite smooth, so any additions from your personal pharmacopoeia will need to be carefully ground before mixing them in after the eggs. However, the bitterness of the caramel is very good for camouflaging the taste of almost anything. Cyanide in particular imparts a quite lovely almond hint to this dish.

What has been cooking at your house?

[Cross posted at Balloon Juice.]


An American in Moscow

REUTERS - Mikhail Voskresensky

Amid shouts from gangs of men and threats of beatings, police officers arrested more than a dozen gay rights activists, including a few foreigners, who attempted to hold a rally in Moscow on Saturday.

Among the arrested were Dan Choi, an American Iraq war veteran and gay rights campaigner, and Andy Thayer, a Chicago-based activist, who were in Moscow to support the rally. They were later released.

The Moscow authorities, who rarely tolerate antigovernment demonstrations, have vowed never to allow Russia’s small community of gay rights activists to hold a rally in the capital, though similar events have been permitted in St. Petersburg, Russia’s second-largest city.

Last year, the European Court of Human Rights fined Russia more than $40,000 for its refusal to allow gay rights supporters to hold peaceful demonstrations in Moscow. This year’s rally was banned, nevertheless.

The fight for gay rights in the Western world has often begun at the end of a police baton.

Political oppression and the toleration of brutality will eventually be overcome, but I suspect there will be a lot more photos from Russia like the one above before that happens.

For those of us who take for granted the rights we have to sleep with whoever we want and profess our love in a public forum, this photo bears witness to the enforced silence and fear that others around the world suffer every day simply because they are gay.

Photo: Reuters/Mikhail Voskresensky.


My name is Sarah Howard, and I am a fictional character.

The Contract - Jacob Duck (1600-1667)

This is really a Facebook post, but Facebook expects me to express myself in 420 characters which, frankly, is not enough for me to get anywhere near to making an actual point.

Hello Facebook people.

You know how sometimes you have those nights where you are hepped up on a Fluoxetine G and Tonic or seven, and you come to a brilliant realization, which then makes you do something really dumb, like having a Mega-Large pepperoni and extra cheese pizza sent every lunchtime to Chris Christie’s office for a month.

Don’t try that, by the way. Defending restraining order applications can become expensive.

I have slept with enough lawyers over the years that some if it has rubbed off, and in my pink drug blur I realized that as a Proud Fictional American, in joining Facebook I should have proudly professed my Fictionality by opening a Page, not a profile (c/f Facebook Statement of Rights and Responsibilities). I immediately rectified my error, and hereby send my apologies to the busy beavers at Facebook Legal.

I am a Proud Fictional Republican Catholic American Woman.

I understand that all of my Friends have come across as people who “like this”, in the inimitable words of the Facebook.

Welcome to you all.

I mentioned that I did something dumb. This was that, in coming out to you as fictional for Facebook purposes, I of course forgot to back up my other information, so will have to work out, for example, what my address is. Bugger.

Anyway, thankyou for “liking” me, and for all the lovely comments and compliments that many of you posted on “real” Sarah’s profile, by the way. Now lost in the etheric layers, I suspect. Oh well.

If you’d like to chat with me on Facebook, assuming Facebook allows us to chat, then please feel free to do so. You can also read my posts variously, and sometimes simultaneously, at Sarah, Proud and Tall and Balloon Juice and Daily Kos . I do try to respond to people, but being imaginary is hard work, so please forgive me if I don’t.

To return to my new Facebook identity, I must note that I do object to being called a “this”.

I am not a “this” to be “liked” or “disliked” at the will of some wingnut with a keyboard and the typing skills and scent of a drunken baboon.

It also raises the question of whether I get to “like” or “dislike” you lot, or indeed my disgruntled, vaguely dumb and entirely fictional family when they manage to track me down again and insist on sending me pictures of my grand-niece Bridge managing to breathe two sticks of gum up her nose or young Tangent’s thriving rat-tail and frontal Fawcett Flip hairdo.

[Personal Note to Tangent: I did warn you. Grammy is calling her lawyer and there will be lots of fat, happy dogs wandering around Shady Pines when Grammy dies. The rat-tail goes. You can keep the Flip. If you want to spend your life being mistaken for a girl from behind by truckers, that’s your business.]

My name is Sarah Howard and I demand the same rights as every other American, real or not.

If you would like to like me, you can click here, apparently:

Sarah Howard

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Catching the moment

Photo from the New York Times. H/t to Xantar on Balloon Juice.


Live dispatches from the Royal Wedding

Note: What with Donald Trump behaving like David Duke and the many terrible tornado deaths, I feel a little guilty joking about anything.

However, as some fine young women once sang “Some Days You Gotta Dance”. On with the badinage.

9.52am BST – Well, my little carbuncles, I’m finally seated in the Abbey after being patted down for twenty minutes by a most obliging young Pakistani policeman. I haven’t had that much fun in months.

I was a little sad that he took my little Beretta away, even though I explained that I was a trained marksman and might need it if any revolutionary outrages were to be perpetrated during the ceremony. He was lovely though, and said he would put it somewhere safe and I could pick it up before I went to the lunchtime reception at the Palace, just in case Camilla got out of hand. Which was nice.

On my way in I was screamed at hysterically by several young women who apparently thought I was Tara Palmer-Tomkinson. It must be because the monkey-gland facial I had on the plane coming over made my nose go all wonky. The poor dear has had so many years of chronic cocaine abuse she can barely breathe without a short length of Louis Vuitton-branded hosepipe up each nostril, and with me in this new wig we look like twins.

The atmosphere in London is quite extraordinary, what with the street parties and the bunting and the crowds of nylon-clad chavs waving flags to celebrate the fact that a bunch of elitist wankers with no chins can spend more on a wedding cake than any of them will earn in their entire life. As a result, I admit that I’m quite excited to be here, even though I would normally be in sympathy with the 75% of London residents who are apparently cowering in their homes with the music turned up loud pretending the whole thing isn’t happening.

You may have read that the police are using special signal-blocking technology to stop the punters tweeting or calling from inside the Abbey. Never fear, I didn’t work in the CIA for 42 years and not learn a few things about sneaking information past the officialdom of third world countries. I’m carefully concealing my iPad under the most gorgeous stole made of dead badgers. It looks a bit like Robin Williams’ wedding night, but I think it’s fooled the police so far.

I’m sitting next to that nice Gareth Thomas, the rugby player – real football, dears, not that padded-up excuse for a game Americans play. I must say that William and Skinny Kate do appear to like their gays, what with Gareth and Elton and Edward and that young Australian swimmer in the pearls. There’s even a whole group of queens in dresses up at the front of the South Nave.

Just minute, dears.

Oh. Really? Gareth is telling me that the men in dresses are actually Archbishops and Cardinals and suchlike. Who’d have thought that Cardinal Brady would look better in a beaded Givenchy gown and Jimmy Choo pumps than I do?

10am – Bear with me for a minute, dears. I’ve just spotted an empty seat next to that lovely David Beckham and I’m going to nip over for a minute to chat him up.

10.05am – How embarrassing. I’d been sitting chatting to David about his balls for a few minutes before I noticed the muffled squeaking coming from somewhere underneath me and realised the seat wasn’t empty and that I’d been sitting on little Vicky Beckham. I offered her a breath mint to make amends. She accepted, even if she did put half of it away for later. A girl has to watch what she eats.

10.09am – Heavens. There was a woman there wearing a hat that looked like a stork had swallowed a serving dish.

10.11am – Gareth is cruising a rather dishy Guardsman. I had to steal the Queen Mother’s line to Noel Coward. “I wouldn’t if I were you, Noel – they count them before they put them out.”

The flowers are quite lovely, by the way. I think green is so flattering to young skin.

I’ve only just recovered from the horror of Vicky Beckham’s hat. It looked like a pencil holder designed by Tim Burton.

10.20am – The bridegroom and the best man have arrived, wearing their nice hats. So useful for the less hirsute gentleman. I wonder if William is going to keep his on all day?

10.21am – Apparently not.

10.22am – Dear Harry does look so like his daddy.

10.38am – I spotted one gentleman coming in just now who appeared to be hepped up on crystal. I hope no one scares the poor thing.


10.42am
– There is a woman in blue (apparently one of Fergie’s children) who is wearing an exploded bantam on her head.

10.50am – The Duchess of Cornwall came up briefly to say hello to me on her way in. Betty Windsor has obviously told Camilla that I know where the brake-line-snipping bodies are buried. She kept laughing nervously at me and giving odd little shakes of her head. It was like being befriended by a mule eating a toffee.

10.51am – The Queen has apparently come dressed as a yellow marshmallow peep. She may be the yellowest thing I have ever seen this side of George W. Bush.

11.03am – Jesus. I haven’t seen that much gratuitous train since “Atlas Shrugged”.

11.09am
– Heaven’s she’s thin. Vicky Beckham was glaring daggers at her. At least we can tell this isn’t a shotgun wedding. Well, not unless Kate has had the baby moved to her summer uterus for the week.

11.14am – Poor William looks skeerder than Donald Trump when his limo broke down in the Bronx.

11.19am – Awwww.

11.30am – Good grief. I’m going to ask Gareth to wake me up when the endless singing is over.

11.35am

Joseph Nobles – Sarah, since you avoided the signal interference, you might have caught the understatement of the wedding. Dad was helping Kate get her dress arranged, lifting it up and around, and a TV perp evidently said: “Michael Middleton just making sure everything is unsoiled and undamaged”.

I don’t often admit that words fail me.

11.46am – When does the drinking start?

11.46am – Given the use of the term “sobriety” in the sermon, apparently the answer is never.

11.48am – Does David Cameron always look like a worried spaniel?

11.57am – It’s almost done. Cambridge has a new Duchess, Princess Anne can take off her ugly hat that looks like a licorice allsort, Prince Andrew can stop holding in his tummy, and Grammy can get a damn drink.

12.36pm – I’m off dears. Gareth’s Guardsman tells me he has a friend.

All in all, it was a lovely wedding. Kate looked stunning. William and his brother both looked dashing, and William and Kate are clearly in love, which makes for a nice change. There were wacky hats everywhere. No one comes close to the British on pomp and circumstance. After all, all they need to do is play “Jerusalem” and old ladies like me tear up. What more could a girl ask for?

I will check in later to tell you all the dish about the lunch reception.

All my love – Sarah xx


The truth is out there

Goddammit. I post a righteous rant about the world thinking Americans are all insane and then half an hour later the entire United States goes stark raving birther-mad just to prove me correct.

Anyway, it was the 5th of August 1961.

Keith and I had been in Nairobi undermining the more moderate sections of the Kenyan independence movement because Jack Kennedy wanted to piss off the British. It didn’t take much work in those days – either to undermine the more moderate sections of African politics or to piss off the British. Death of Empire and all that.

We’d had a very successful couple of weeks, but it finally came time for us to leave. This pleased me no end, not least because Nairobi was a pustular, pestilent shit-hole that even the Brits didn’t want. Dust, dirt, disease and not a decent bar in the entire place.

We arrived at Nairobi Embakasi Airport mid morning. Well, it was called an international airport but frankly it was just a room with one desk with two angry black men behind it which served for both ticket sales and check in. There was a goat tied near the door which they used to hitch to a cart for moving the luggage to the plane.

We lined up next to the goat to check in. I immediately noticed the young couple at the desk in front of us because they were a mixed race couple – he was black and she was white – which was still quite unusual at that time. He was trying to book airline tickets all the way through to Hawaii, which was causing untold confusion, while she was fussing over the most adorable tiny brown baby. It had huge ears, but a lovely smile. She kept calling the baby Barack, which I remember because I thought it an odd name.

They finally sorted out their tickets and we checked in, and about an hour later we were all on our way to Heathrow via Cairo on the most terrifying plane in which I have ever traveled. I suspect they’d borrowed the airport goat to power the engines, and it was tired that day and was barely keeping the plane in the sky.

We were seated across from the couple. Keith had already fallen asleep, so I slipped on my sunglasses and pretended to be asleep myself and then listened in to their conversation to keep from being bored. She was called Ann and he seemed to be called Barack, just like the baby. She was holding the sleeping baby in her arms facing towards me. The young couple were whispering to each other about the “plan”. She seemed quite nervous, while he was acting bluff and unconcerned.

It all seemed very suspicious.

After about half an hour, Barack Sr looked around and appeared to satisfy himself that no-one was looking. He reached into his briefcase and pulled out a blank form which I could see was headed “Certificate of Live Birth”, along with a miniature typewriter, and proceeded to fill in the form. When he was finished he had Ann sign the form, and then he signed it twice at the bottom, clearly using different handwriting each time, then put everything away in his briefcase.

A stewardess came up the aisle and spoke to Barack Sr. At that moment, the baby woke up and opened his eyes and both the stewardess and I could see that they were yellow and had thin pupils just like a lizard. The baby stuck out its tongue, which was long and thin and pinkish-purple and which flicked up and licked across both of the baby’s eyes and then was slurped back into its mouth.

Of course, the stewardess screamed like Tippi Hedren at a poultry farm, which woke up the entire plane. Keith leapt to his feet but I carefully remained “asleep”. Ann shrieked and clutched at the baby. Barack Sr fumbled in his bag and jumped up brandishing a weapon. It was long and silver and had flashing lights all over it. He aimed it at Keith and pressed the trigger. A long beam of red light flashed out and into Keith’s eyes. Keith froze immediately. Barack Sr then used the weapon on everyone else in the plane who was awake (except Ann and the baby, of course) and they were all immobilized as well.

I threw in a few fake snores for good measure and kept watching.

Barack Sr reached up and peeled off his face to reveal a lizard head – bright green scaly skin with vibrant yellow eyes. He took a deep breath like he’d just surfaced from the water, then began to rant like Glenn Beck with an amyl headache. He went on and on for at least twenty minutes about how nothing would interfere with their plan, how the lizard people would rise up from their oppression and conquer the greatest nation in the world and then the entire planet, how little Barry was the true hope of lizard-kind. All the while Ann and the baby chuckled evilly. After a while, he wound down, and sat back in his seat. Ann patted his hand and he put his human face mask back on.

About five minutes later Keith started to move. He shook his head as if to clear it, then looked around as if wondering what he was doing. He sat down and grabbed me by the shoulder to wake me up. Soon everyone else was waking up too. Keith had no idea what had happened. I played dumb, and all the while Barack and Ann sat there grinning like Newt Gingrich at a bridal fair, making faces at the baby and cooing.

When we got back to the US I reported everything but, of course, no one believed me.

It wasn’t until 1997 I saw little Barry the lizard baby again. It was a news report on the Illinois senate election, and I recognized those ears immediately.

Of course, now it’s far too late to do anything. The day will come and I, for one, will welcome our new lizard overlords.

At least then we will be able to stop talking about fucking birth certificates.

[Cross posted at Balloon Juice. ]
[Confidential to A Friend: Thanks – I changed it.]