Monday, May 30, 2011

Wretched Dionysus


A concealed vegetable laid me low, so I missed out on much of L'affaire Giggs. The Cymru Rouge Fact Reduction Department got to work immediately, and reported the good news - Giggs had returned to his undying roots by bedding a Welsh brunette who looks like she lives in an InterCity buffet car.

We duly promoted him to the status of Martyr and, because there is no higher award than that of the Order of the Charred Lung of Llwchwr (Third Class), we gave him another one.

The endurance of the Welsh People into modern times has long mystified and annoyed our neighbours. The Picts, Gauls, Jutes and Deserving Poor have all gone, yet we persist.

The answer is Unnatural Selection. While the English and lesser races with too much law pursue leggy, beaming, ethereal blondes, we prefer dumpy, bad-tempered brunettes who go like a Young Farmer in a Hillman Imp. This breeds a swart, vinegar-fisted people, able to dwell undetected in woods, caves and Labour Exchanges, sustained by fermented herbs and fungi.

My own Iberian preference once won me the admiration of a purse of academic feminists - "won", rather than "earned", as there was no question of any effort on my part. Indeed, in this case my back was my best friend.

Just as Europe languished between Rome and Renaissance in a Dark Age of Lothars and Lombards, so did I wallow between Wales and undemanding public service in the brackish waters of post-graduate penury.

It seemed a good idea at the time. I had an excellent degree from an unknown university and aspired to more than being a goatish librarian in some Northern town. "Try for a doctorate," yawned my mentor, the splendid Prof Pethybridge. "Ivy League, Oxbridge, that sort of thing. Gowns and gals. Believe me. Just steer clear of London. Grubby Benthamites. You have been warned."

But I bumped into an old mate, Mike the Monk, who'd baled out of his Benedictine Monastery in protest at the lack of weekend disco passes. He'd found refuge in the City, where the Big Bang had opened the doors of the Stock Exchange to plausible young men who could shout a lot while remembering whose stripey blazer they were wearing.

"No fyccing idea what's going on, but. Got a Lamborghini and a flat in Dulwich, mind. Bit lonely, though. Not enough Welshes. You coming?"

I went. Four years of ligging, gigging, snorting, boffing, biffing, tooting, becking, belting and "manic fries" followed, leaving me with no hair, a mystifying reputation for diabolism, a rumble of Limehouse guttersnipes who've always seen me right, and about one chapter (since lost) of a PhD on homosexuality in Russian imperial student Burschenschaften that one peer reviewer called "gamey".

There were a few more tricky years of impersonating an impresario before I found my niche as a broadcast drone, but the London interregnum did remind me of the inestimable advantages of being Welsh.

My brunette moment came late one sultry morning in the summer of 1989. The postgraduate reading room at our college was a cool and airy chamber with windows designed for some phantom dictator to survey the Bloomsbury swarm.

My colleagues were the admirable Wislen, a brace of English chaps called Jonathan, a disgraced Iranian diplomat, Will the rangy New Yorker, a white Rasta who really shouldn't have been there, and a pod of American bluestockings - brunette and bespectacled with Puritan promise.

The social life of the males revolved around luring these delectable scholars down the Friend in Hand, plying them with halves of "lager beer" and trying to glimpse their knees. They were charming young ladies, all studying worthy subjects like Comecon, Polish beet planning and centre-periphery relations in Shelest-era Ukraine. They treated us with a companionable bemusement born of boredom and curiosity about our teeth. We were so happy.

Then along came Angela. Five foot eleven in silken jeans and fringed rodeo jacket, she tossed her flaxen tresses from breast to breast as she trilled "Is this desk free for my tomes of Romantic Romanian poetry?" Yes, she spoke in verse, and with a Parisan "r" that ushered her Aldeburgh accent into a husky demi-monde of Ambleresque intrigue.

If an orchid could speak, it would sound like Angela.

The postgrad gents were all over her like aphids. Even Julian the Rasta briefly refrained from keening about the sorrows that Babylon had inflicted on him and his people in their Maidstone exile.

I alone was immune to her freckles, good nature and alto sighs thanks to Samuel D. Kassow's PhD thesis on the Russian student movement, which not only covered everything I had planned to write about but was also about to be published as "Students, Professors and State in Tsarist Russia".

I was perusing this exquisite text on a microfiche reader, a piece of Kubrick technology that owed more to A Clockwork Orange than A Space Odyssey. It meant plunging my head inside a sensory deprivation hood and staring at flickering green letters that spelled the end of two years of dillatory research in the musty bowels of various Muscovite archives.

As I whispered "bugger, bugger, bugger" over and over with my back to the room, I missed the Arrival of the Queen of Suffolk along the carpet of rolled-out tongues. I was brought to by our resident Iranian calling out "Boyo - lunch in Diseases!", this being the standard invitation to partake of pie at the adjacent School of Hygiene and Tropical Medicine.

I shuffled out of the room behind the rest, lost in thoughts of how I could salvage my doctorate from the unfair advantage Kassow had of having done the work earlier and with greater dispatch. Again I missed all sight of Angela, and so was not expecting to be flanked by two of the American MA gals.

"Boyo, you're the only real man in that room!" whined the taller brunette warmly, her woollen dress brushing those fleshy knees seductively.

"Threesome!" I thought.

My reputation among these sunless social scientists remained in the ascendant over lunch, where I had little to say to the unalloyed Angela and her leggy, blonde enjambement. I take my women like my lemons - bitter, jaundiced and unwaxed. We exchanged a few pleasantries, then I left her to gargle Eminescu to the sound of half a dozen trouser seams bursting.

"A thought, once uttered, is untrue," confirmed Russian poet and anagram Fiodor Tyutchev, and it didn't take long to establish that my flat-heeled colleagues were impressed more by the Boyo sang froid that the prospect of my using them as a sort of Tantric climbing frame.

This came as a mild relief, as a close study of Kingsley Amis's "The Green Man" had sown mighty oaks of doubt about my ability to compete with the natural attraction that the two smouldering sophomores would with any luck harbour for one another.

Lunch ended and we trailed back to our desks, some to thumb through indices of freight derailments by drunken bears in 1970s Bulgaria, others to comb the Zhakhiv district party secretary lists, and one to stretch her dappled arms across jasmine-scented editions of Ştefănescu Delavrancea and dream of the sea.

But, as Angela unfurled before us like a fondant fern between the banks of bowing Jonathans, the taller brunette showed why she and her tawny tribe are always the better bet, and certainly the greater fun.

"Perhaps I should befriend her," she wondered. "Get her to cut her hair".

44 comments:

Gorilla Bananas said...

You missed a trick with those brunettes, Boyo, they might have let you watch even they didn't want you to be the meat in their sandwich. You could have dropped the hint by mentioning Offa's Dyke to show the Welsh are historically attuned to their proclivities.

No Good Boyo said...

For once I let silence be the better part of valour, GB, and suspect I was right. Their motive was pure vengeance, and I might have ended up being sacrificed in some arcane Sapphic rite. I'm all for symbols, as long as they don't involve my parts being used as cymbals.

Gadjo Dilo said...

'Romantic Romanian poetry', eh? If you can read Eminescu in any translation other than original (Drippy Bardic -> Overly Frenched-up Paleo-Albanian) then you're a better man than I am. But I shall try again....

No Good Boyo said...

Naturally, Gadjo, I scorned Eminescu utterly. Angela went on to marry an actor from Iasi just before Ceausescu was ousted. I think she went there to live with him. She probably ended up selling dried fish and sunflower seeds to irritable Belarussian tourists.

Kitty said...

Gosh. My life seems so rather pedestrian by comparison.
Even if I didn't understand much of what you wrote, it was still a jolly good and witty read!

Kind regards, Kitty

No Good Boyo said...

Dear Kitty, thanks for your kind words for the introduction to your charming blog. Anyone who lives in France cannot lead a pedestrian life, especially given the random driving and lack of pavements xx

Gadjo Dilo said...

Eminescu is by all (Romanian) accounts knicker-wettingly georgeous in his use of (the Romanian) language. Either this actor from Iasi was a better translator than any by which Our Hero had theretofore been served, or the estimable Angela understood the Romanian soul much better than I do. (Err, have you got any photographs of her?)

No Good Boyo said...

I don't have a photo, Gadjo, and all blondes look alike to me. I reckon she would rather stand out in Moldavia.

Daphne Wayne-Bough said...

Clever ruse, Boyo, to tempt Gadjo out of hiding! An excellent post. I only have time to read your blog now and again as it takes too long looking up all the words in the dictionary, but this was just the right length. You catch where I'm coming from, Bruv?

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