News from Home 25 - Part II
12/17/2007 (updated 12/17/2007)

The Governator, for so he is dubbed, stopped in for his regular elocution lesson. I was saddened to see that he was still limping, several months after his skiing accident, but at least he was off the crutches.

“I had an argument with a tree”, he said, “and this time the tree won – but I’ll be baaack!!”

I find these moments when Arnold parodies himself to be rather endearing, and I can, for the moment, forgive the political lapses. He asked me if I had seen the Simpsons movie. “They drew me very bad”, he said, “and they had me talking with this stupid accent…tell me honestly, do I really sound like that?”

I assured the Governor that he had made great strides, his accent had softened to a degree, but there was still much work to be done. I reminded him that the film had at least depicted him as the future President of the United States.

“At least they have vision”, cried Arnold. “They know it’s just a matter of time.” I said that his cause would be helped if he was more consistent. It was all very well him driving a fleet of eco-conscious, hydrogen-fuelled Hummers, but at the same time he was blocking legislation which would clamp down on polluting energy companies, because they were his political donors. I knew I was asking for it, for Arnold then gave me one of his one-size-fits-all political speeches, learned word for word from a speech by Margaret Thatcher (which I had taught him in the first place), designed to be pulled out at any tricky moment, or basically any time he didn’t know the answer:

“At this precise moment in time, could I just say, without fear of contradiction, that it is only by working in the general interest, that is to say, by bringing an even hand to bear on the matter, and it’s a matter I do not take lightly, that we can work towards universal freedom and justice for all, in a true and Democratic way, that stands above any party or political agenda.”

That put a stop to further questions, and we got down to work. I thought the Governor might enjoy practicing some presidential phrases, and indeed, he warmed quickly to the task. We ran through ‘In this great Democracy of ours’, ‘Spreading freedom around the world’, ‘A symbol of all that’s good and great about this country’ and ‘my Press Secretary will deal with that question later’. Georgio, our pool man, popped in at the end of the lesson to greet his old friend and bodybuilding companion, and was mightily impressed. He said that he was saying things the people wanted to hear, and that he didn’t see how anyone could not vote for him.

Our newlyweds, Brandi and Keanu, are still under the spell of the Vietnamese mystic, Wa Cha Meol Sun, and held a gathering in honour of the great man at their large and tasteless home the other day. They asked if I would attend. I declined, after my experience being bounced off a window or two by his heavies at the last meeting. Mrs. RT said it was ridiculous that I couldn’t go along and support the cause, even if I just sat at the back and stayed out of trouble. Reluctantly, and only for a quiet life, I agreed. They sent over a white robe, with a hood, like one of those very snazzy bathrobes from Bahamian beach resorts, and said I should wear it, but first I had to bathe, and then no perfume, and no underwear. This was all getting to be a bit much, but a withering look from Mrs. RT convinced me that I had better comply. At least, I thought, the hood would come in handy, in case any of those bouncers remembered me. Suitably cleansed, I wandered across the street at the appointed hour, and joined a throng similarly dressed at the door. Inside, the place was nearly jammed with acolytes – business was always good for Mr. Sun. Brandi and Keanu had redecorated again, which they seemed to do about every six months, and their latest look was very white; the impression was of a yacht, one of those huge motor boats, the veritable floating gin palace, about the size of the Titanic, with lots of inbuilt white leather couches, and white carpet, and white painted walls and trim. Add the guests in white robes, and there was danger of snow-blindness – I squinted a bit, and pulled the hood farther down over my eyes. We all sat on the floor, and the meeting got under way.

Mr. Sun’s English was unintelligible to me, but everyone else in the room seemed transfixed, and would shout responses at certain times, as if the whole thing was scripted. In a very short time, the affair became deeply tedious, and feeling left out of the fun, my mind drifted off into fanciful reverie. I imagined the whole room as the lounge of an ocean liner, tilting dramatically, and then sliding into the murky depths, but instead of slipping into water, we were sinking into the fires of Hell, and all the white-robed figures were clambering up the Mount Everest of the floor, to get away from the flames. I could feel the heat now rising from below, burning and burning…

I was brought sharply back to reality by the increased commotion in the room – people were jumping to their feet and shouting louder and louder responses. I was also aware of an acute discomfort in the lower abdomen, and figured that this must be a consequence of the excellent lunch I had had with Mr. Alphonso, at one of our favourite eateries, the Khyber Pass Tandoori Grill; I had rashly plumped for the extra hot vindaloo special, and was now paying the price, it seemed, with a burning sensation spreading….

At this point in a similar narrative, Samuel Pepys would probably have switched to Latin, to conceal some delicate anatomical matter, or a bit of good old rumpy-pumpy with the barmaid, from the inquisitive eyes of a manservant, or, heavens forfend, his wife! Classical scholars, on the other hand, were obviously made of stronger stuff, and as men of the world would have no problem with the most salacious material, should they happen to break into his house and unlock his desk drawer…treading lighter on the classics, suffice it to say, gentle reader, that I suffered an accident, and a brown stain was now spreading over the lower half of my garment, and a profoundly offensive effluvium was certainly reaching my senses, and would soon fill the room. I’m sure I saw Dr. Sun’s nose twitch – it was time to retreat.