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

Wanda Lee Trewell stopped by, as she does, with her latest fundraiser for the Misplaced Daughters of the Revolution. She is selling tea towels with the likenesses of Iraq’s Most Wanted – rather like those playing cards they issued to the troops. She, and some of her sisters in the organization are convinced that many of Saddam’s uncaptured top brass could make it to the States, where they will cause mayhem and sedition. This is bad news for anyone looking even vaguely Middle Eastern (Latinos and East Europeans may qualify), and bearing a moustache. In fact, all 24 faces on the tea towel could be the same person, so necessary was it under the old regime to identify as closely as possible with the wily dictator. I purchased two of these cultural essentials, thinking it unnecessary to get into world politics with Wanda, she coming from a very small town in The South that famously was on the point of lynching four Swedish exchange students back in the 50s, in the belief that they were working for Fidel Castro. Mr. Trewell, meanwhile, has started a flourishing sideline as a stand-up comedian. We all went down to see him in his debut performance at the Comedy Store last week, and he was an unlikely hit. Billed as ‘Trewell and Eldridge (Funeral Directors)’ they appear on stage in full undertaker’s black garb, with the nice horror film touch of the black ribbon around the top hat, and the black gloves and tails. I suppose the appeal lies in the contrast between the jokes, which are upbeat and really quite good, and the mournful delivery. Eldridge works mostly as the straight man, feeding the lines to Trewell, who has an impeccably funereal sense of timing; if timing is everything in comedy, then these two have discovered a new snail’s pace for it, as befits the look and the professional associations. It is curious to witness Mr. Trewell in a spotlight – there is still something hard to see about him, not so much his usual camouflage, more a kind of black hole quality, as if he is sucking in all the available light, as if matter is bending around him. The lighting engineer at the club was complaining that he needed to run the lights twice as bright on this pair than on anyone else on the bill. It is also curious to detect something else about him on a stage – given that he cannot hide in a corner and blend in, but is forced, like some laboratory lizard that would rather be hiding under a rock, but is exposed, for scientific purposes, to the full glare of inspection –in such a harsh visual environment, do I detect the faintest traces of charisma emanating from Mr. Trewell?

Hashimoto has been cleaning up our defaced Japanese lantern, but all his attempts have been only partially successful. The paint penetrated deep into the porous cedar wood, and paint stripper has only managed to take off the surface layer. He has attempted some sanding, but the coarser grades are tearing the wood grain. The current look of the darned thing is that weather-beaten and sun-faded appearance of the more statuesque elements of a minigolf course, one that’s been long-neglected by the painter’s brush. Which gives me an idea…

Unfortunately, our temporary lease on the garden next door has run out, and we have had to move our menagerie back to our own crowded premises. This was copious work for myself and Mavis, helped as we were in a hindering kind of way by Mr. Alphonso. He regaled us with colourful stories about John Wayne, and did a fair job of entertaining the Psitticads, at one point looking very Long John Silver, with a macaw on each shoulder, and a Cockatoo on the head. Mr. A did divulge to us, while trying to balance birdseed on his nose for the parrots to peck off, that his wild times were over with Sandy Briggs, the somewhat loose wife of Colonel Briggs, who was now back from his golfing trip - and hopefully none the wiser. Mr. A commented, rather ungallantly I thought, that she was a woman of surfaces, all come-ons and Readers Digest intellectual depths, and in the sack disappointing. “She talk like sex-bomb - but she was like dried prune! Like Don Quixote’s horse!’ said Mr. A. I asked him what he was expecting from a 65-year old, and he said he was now setting his sights on something a bit younger – specifically the 50- something nurse who was temporarily replacing Anita, his housekeeper of long standing, who was taking a sabbatical in disgust at the antics of this formerly respectable senior citizen, and who could blame her. “She is every inch a woman – and she has proper rump, boyo, like the Duchess of Cornwall – she could ride in your English Grand National and not come a cropper at Beecher’s Brook!” Mr. A was ecstatic at the Charles and Camilla wedding, ordered every conceivable souvenir edition from England, and has the pictures stuck up all over his house. I think it’s time to intercept his Viagra shipments and start feeding him the placebos.