News From Home 19, Part I
6/1/2005 (updated 6/1/2005)

Governor Schwarzenneger arrived promptly for his elocution lesson, fairly modestly, by his standards, pulling up on a large Harley motorcycle sandwiched between a couple of black security SUVs. He was dressed casually in what looked like Colombian revolutionary army fatigues, but the bandoliers over his shoulder were specially adapted for carrying cigars. He was in good humour, and seemed determined to be a model student. As we proceeded with our task, I was unable to suppress images from ‘My Fair Lady’ from flashing through my mind, so I thought it better to just roll with it – I took perverse pleasure in casting Arnold in the Audrey Hepburn role, as we rattled off ‘The rain in Spain stays mainly in the plain’, first as a mere recital, and then, as he warmed to the task, I made him sing it. Having an ego the size of one of the larger moons of Saturn, this did not faze or embarrass our noble Governor in the least, but his singing voice left a bit to be desired. As a teaching tool, I taped his performance, purportedly to play back to him at a future date, so he can measure his progress; but it’s also a great piece of blackmail material, if I need to call up a favour in the future. From the first lesson, I would say Arnold has no ear at all for nuance of accent, and is probably a hopeless case, but we will see….meanwhile, the agreed fee is not insubstantial. Our pool man Georgio, an old pal of Arnold’s, and someone with even less of an ear for language, was impressed. He happened to come by at the end of the lesson, and Arnold couldn’t resist showing off a few ‘How now brown cows’ for him. Georgio said that after only one lesson, his accent was undetectable, and I must be a genius.

Georgio meanwhile, is not in the best of spirits. I came across him yesterday, listlessly trying to scoop the same leaf out of the pool over and over again. He has broken up with our childminder/petwalker Mavis, and has been mooching around the Barracuda club, often the worse for wear. I asked Mavis what went wrong, and she cited a third party. “There were three of us in that relationship – me, Georgio, and Georgio’s reflection in the mirror. That lad can stare at himself all day!” Mavis is renting the guesthouse over at Brandi and Keanu’s. and I’m not sure where Georgio is resting his weary head.

Witherstock, meanwhile, has decided that the Governor is the Antichrist; she waded through hundreds of his pictures, until she found a still from ‘Total Recall’ that fit her theory – it was a shot of Arnold frowning deeply. Witherstock decided that there on his forehead, hidden in the frown, was the number ‘666’, and she had drawn over the appropriate lines with red marker for emphasis. I told her that it didn’t look anything like 666 to me; she gave me a steely look, and said that of course it wasn’t in Arabic numerals, it was in Aramaic, what was I expecting? My Aramaic is a bit rusty, so I suppose she could be on to something. It just looked like a couple of squiggles to me. Witherstock really is becoming weirder by the day, and if she wasn’t such a whiz about the house, I’d be glad not to have to deal with her. I dropped by her room the other night, and rather sneakily peeped in through the back window before entering. There she was, in the centre of a ring of about fifty candles, stark naked (not a becoming sight – she is about 65, and thin as an ironing board) – she appeared to be dancing with a portrait of her beloved Cedric held in her hands – a waltz was playing on the stereo – and she was deeply engaged in conversation with the picture. This, of course, discouraged me from going in and talking about the squid for tomorrow’s lunch.