The AuthorMe Staff
Gathering and Picnic
April 31, 2003
By Kenneth Mulholland
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Please enjoy these notes from our recent AuthorMe Staff Gathering and Picnic. If you enjoy this unique get-together, please consider inviting all of us on our next joy-filled excursion to your place of choice, at your expense (of course), so you can meet all of us in person. (We hate to invite ourselves but, as you'll see, we aren't bashful!) In reading the following epic, please be sure to read Ken's closing remarks!
The AuthorMe Staff Gathering and Picnic. April 31. 2003.
From Sleepy Hollow, near Chicago, Illinois.
Report for Us.
Transcript of the audio recordings and additional notes.
'...etter turn on the tape recorder if you want to make sure it's working properly.'
'Yes Bruce. It's on. Oh dear. Rain, storms, high winds, thunder and lightning. Look at that!'
'You can switch off the television Ken, it's nearly five thirty in the morning. Take a look through the window.'
'Golly, the moon, its almost orange.'
'One of those rare things. A Pumpkin Moon we call it.'
'I've never seen one before.'
'Oh, on occasion we have them here in Sleepy Hollow. Generally bodes well for the coming day. We'll have a fine time, take my word. Now how do you feel?'
'Surprisingly, pretty good. I had a few hours sleep on the plane and dozed on the bus. What about the others?'
'Rena and Frisco got in early, asleep both of them. She lets him sleep on her feet.'
'Well...O.K. You never know.'
'And Linda came in with Monica late last night. We're getting pressed for room though. Eileen is coping, but I hope we don't have any extras that you might have invited, kinda out of the blue.'
'Me? What no! Well, you knew that my wife Maria was coming, and of course 'Hollywood', and her husband Ray.'
'I hope they didn't mind the sleeping bags?'
'They said they were fine. Hollywood's probably got a laptop in there, working away with a torch. Look, it's nearly dawn.'
'I always like this time, hear the birds?'
'Just like home, except...'
'I don't know, perhaps it was the fog. We don't get much fog in Melbourne.'
'Oh, the mist, you mean?'
'Yes, if that's what you guys call it here. Funny. It just seemed a little strange.'
'Are you two ready for some breakfast? Coffee's on. Toast? Bacon?'
'Sounds brilliant Eileen. What about the others?'
'Let's do this in shifts Ken. Helen and I can cope better that way.'
'Hey, we can all pitch in too, you know.'
'There's only so much room in the kitchen. This house wasn't built for an entire congregation.'
'Sorry Eileen. All my fault. I suggested this. Seemed...'
'Like a good idea at the time Ken. And it still is. Just a matter of logistics.'
'Thanks Bruce. Phew! Did I detect a note of...Wow, look at those storms.'
'Turn off the T.V. Ken. This is Sleepy Hollow. It'll be getting light soon. No storms here...'
'Can't we two go walkin' together, out beyond the valley of trees?
Out where there's a hillside of heather, curtsyin' gently in the breeze.
That's what I'd like to do: see the heather-but with you...'
'Thanks for the sentiment Bruce, you know, walking and such, but I'm already spoken for.'
'No you fool, that's not me. Get your face out of the T.V. That's just Curran, here with the eggs.'
'Breakfast. The AuthorMe picnic? Remember?'
'Oh yeah, sure. Must be a little fuzzy still. The flight and the bus trip. But...'
'The song that guy was singing...'
'Oh Eugene, he always sings. He's a happy sort. Chicken farmer.'
'Yes, of course. I just thought...'
'Look. It's time to eat. We need to be fed and ready. All the others will be coming in through the morning, including your two celebrity guests.'
'Don and Noel.'
'You know them on first name basis?'
'Well, not really. Mister McLean and Mister Coward, actually. I was very fortunate to engage them.'
'I'll say. Anyway, I hear the sound of cooking.'
'And the smell of bacon. Should I leave the recorder running?'
'Probably not, do we want to hear us all eati...'
'Back now. Hey, this is looking good. Daylight coming across the hills. Beautiful vista. Gardens and trees. That mist, hovering over the lower rises. And here comes the pool. Bruce, you're a winner! This truck is bringing in the biggest portable pool I have ever seen, and it comes with all the trimmings. Spa bath. Ho Ho! Jackousi...Jakous...Jac...Oh bugger! one of those thingies, you know. And there's the van with the jumping castle, and the merry-go-round. Looking good!'
'We don't have very much sand and surf here in Sleepy Hollow, so Dad figured this would be the best we could do.'
'Helen you, Chris, Calico and Bruce Junior have got the whole thing working. It's going to be fantastic. The kids will love it.'
'Yes, well there will be quite a few kids, and dogs too. Here's the airport bus. Hi-ya Erica! Hi Molly!'
'Hey Helen! Here we come! What a morning!'
'Good mornin' good mornin' Sunbeams will soon shine through,
Good mornin' good mornin' to you.'
'Hello Eugene, you're out early.'
'Why sure, It's gonna be a wonderful day. Hi Abbe!'
'Hi yourself. Hey, what a way to defrag your brain!'
'Aw, c'mon Ken. You know, chill out.'
'Oh yeah, as in relax? Good morning Carl.'
'Hail and well met, old boy.'
'Not too much of the 'old' there Carl. "Young man" would make me and a few others feel a whole lot better.'
'Speak for yourself, You're as young as you feel.'
'And how do you feel Sandy? I see you and Beverly have both brought your dogs?'
'Good morning Bruce, Ken, everybody. This is Jessie the wonder pooch and …here's Mollie Bea the schnauzer! Oh, and she brought along Beverly and of course we have our others tagging behind.'
'Bother and blast!'
'What is it Bev? You’ve remembered the dog and the family.'
'Yes, but the potato and macaroni salads are still sitting on the kitchen counter at home!'
'Never mind, better get out of the way, here's the other bus. Drag your gear and animals down yonder. Tables are set up, music on soon. Take a stroll and breathe in the fresh air.'
'Thanks Bruce, you wouldn't believe what the weather is doing outside of Sleepy Hollow.'
'No problems Bev. Oh wouldn't I?'
'I said I wouldn't believe what the weather is doing outside, Ken.
'Yeah, sure. Hey, hello Adam, yes and Adam's family!
'Man! Are we glad to be here. Look at that sun coming up. Great to be out of the gloom.
And look who we've got with us: Doreen, Rais, Shaima, Doctors Karanam and Taher and the fabulous Deepanjali. And as she steps off the coach she is framed in the doorway, looking stunning in jodhpurs and riding-boots! Only joking. The ruby red skirt and high heels make a fashion statement that has us all ducking for cover. Come on Deepan. Let's hear what you and the guys have been rehearsing!'
'Oh Doctors I'm in trouble'
'Well goodness gracious us!'
'A flush comes to my face and my pulse begins to race.
It goes boom boody-boom. Boody-boom. Boody-boom. Boody-boom. Boody-boom. Boody-boom-boom-boom.'
'Boom boody-boom. Boody-boom. Boody-boom. Boody-boom. Boody boom. Boody-boom!'
'From New Deli to Darjeeling we have done our share of healing and we've never yet been beaten or confused.
We remember that with one jab of our needle in the Punjab, how we cleaned up beriberi, and the dreaded dysentery we de-fused.
Our initial diagnosis rules out measles and thrombosis,
sleeping sickness and, as far as we can tell, influenza, inflammation,
whooping cough and night starvation, and you'll be so glad to hear
that both your eyeballs are so clear
that we can positively swear that you are well!'
'Put two and two together, If you have eyes to see,
The faces that make my pulse race are right in front of me.
Oh, there's nothing we can do. For our hearts are jumping too.
They go boom boody-boom boody-boom boody-boom…'
Well goodness gracious!
Goodness gracious, me!
'Bravo! Well done. What an entrance you three, and welcome. A great way to get the party going.'
'Such fun Bruce. Oh my! You have been busy setting up tables and chairs and a makeshift stage.'
'I've had a lot of helpers Doreen.'
'Ken with the tape recorder'?
'Hey, I just do the suggesting and the recording folks. All the others are doing the actual work'.
'So don't blame you if the day is a flop?'
'How could it be. Look at the weather here. Adam, when you folk get settled in I think we can begin the morning's activities'.
'Sure Bruce, I'll start rounding up some volunteers for the AuthorMe baseball game. Back soon'.
'Ken, your version of beach cricket, old boy.'
'But we don't have a beach Carl.'
'Makes it more interestin' chum. Anyhow, that's for after lunch. Things to do before then...'
'Roll out those lazy, hazy, crazy days of summer. Those days of soda and pretzels and beer.
Roll out those lazy, hazy, crazy days of summer. You'll wish that summer could always be here.
You'll wish that summer could always be here!'
'Who's the guy waving to us Helen?'
'Now don't you start the 'who' stuff yet Ken.'
'Oh dur! What's that supposed to mean?'
'Not the 'what' stuff either. And that guy is Nathaniel Adam Coles. He's a local. Takes care of the church grounds. Plays golf, and is a helper at the school too. Not bad for a retired gent.'
'Well, hmm, he seems sort of familiar to me, but anyway, I guess we should mingle. Maria my dear, have you got the spare tapes for the recorders?'
'Yes, "my dear". And Kenneth!'
'Oh no! Now I know I'm in trouble. Yes dear?'
'Don't you think that you and I should be doing more than carting around a tape recorder and gawking at everybody. Perhaps we should actually be doing some of the work to get this party going?'
'Why, yes. That is, er, yes. And we are. Look, Ray has the barbeques fired up, and he has Monica, Doreen and Bev and Rena and, and...'
'You don't have to justify yourself you know. And stop impersonating the hen-pecked husband. People will be reading what we're recording and think I'm some kind of fish-wife!'
'Oh come come. Enough of this quibbling. I am in search of a Mister Bruce Cook. I have been ahem, retained by a certain party to entertain at this gathering, and I wish to locate Mister Cook in order to facilitate our arrangements for the performance. The name is Coward. You may perhaps have heard of me?'
'Heard of you? Why of course, Mister Noel, er, Mister Coward. Please allow me to direct you directly to, er, that is to take you to Brook, er, Crook, oh Bruce. This way if you please.'
'Now where the devil did Hollywood come from? She had her nose in her laptop computer the last time I saw her. Next thing we know she's escorting Noel Coward about the place…'
'I think Deepan has taken charge of the computer. Now where were we Kenneth…'
'Don't be cranky, try to find a little restraint.
Unfold that hanky and wipe off all of your war-paint.
And if you find yourself in a fury,
be your own judge and your own jury, and pass that peace-pipe and bury that hatchet like the Choctaw, Chickasaw, Cherokee and Chippawa
'Gee dear, who's that fella?'
'Haven't a clue, but he dances okay. Hey Eileen, who's the singer?'
'Him? Oh that's Fred Austerlitz. Retired county court judge. Fancies himself. Can't sing. Can dance a bit. Say, Maria, can you come and help with plates and cutlery.'
'Sure thing Eileen.'
'Umm, I wonder if Don Mclean is here yet. Is that him over there?
'Where? Him? He looks more like Don Ameche.'
'Don't be silly Dear, she's an actress.'
'That's Donna Reed you clown. I suppose you'll be telling me that Vic Damone is actually Victor Moan. Who knows what else? Next you'll be seeing the Marx Brothers.'
'Never mind Charlie. Here, you take both the recorders and this bag of spare tapes. I'm going to lend a hand.'
'Well…I'm alone again with the recorders. Are you reading me? The meter says so. So, now Maria has gone off to do the things women do before lunch, preparing and such, but at least I'm back in the good books. She only calls me Charlie when I am.
Anyway I'll just do a little meander around the folks and listen in on their conversations…
'…a volleyball picnic. I who did not know how to swim, jumped into the water. Tom had taught me to float earlier, that is what I thought swimming really was all about. With a few floats, my spirit was charged. With glee and infant ecstasy I played and played. I imagined myself swimming to the depth of Lake Victoria, Uganda, straight into Kenya.
My cousin Olive, seated at the beach stared from above the waters. She had been watching for a while. "Monica, Monica!" she shouted. I hated it when something happened to take away the moment I had conjured to enjoy earth.
I came out of the water… there was urgency in her voice. "What is it Olive?" I said not particularly kindly.
"Watch out for the waves…"
I searched her eyes. They betrayed the fear of losing me.
As I sat on the sand and watched the eagles soar the skies, what else did the
start of the week need, but the feeling of contentment that I was loved?'
'Monica, that's a lovely memory. My thoughts on what might happen today are a little lighter. Then again if we keep being splashed from the pool by certain folks who are brave enough to dive in… Anyhow, we are all on a beach-side picnic. Having a lot of fun.
Then we sit and play a game. Based on telling a story, what else?
And we begin criticising each other's inputs. Line by line.
And the friends start arguing with each other, till Lord Bruce comes and breaks up the fight. And offers to pay for the entire picnic as a truce winning, perhaps 'Bruce winning' gesture.
And after flying in from India, Bruce had better be at his best today.
Pass me a towel Deepan, the kids seem as if cold water means nothing but fun!'
'No sense, no feeling Taher. Wow! Perhaps we need to move a bit. Sorry Ken, out of the way. We're getting wetter than actually being in the pool!'
'And tape recorders don't like water either. The spools are still turning so I hope this is being recorded. Excuse me Helen, I know you have other things to do, but can we have a comment on your thoughts please. You know, for posterity.'
'Sure Ken. The first thing that comes to mind when I think of picnics is a scene from a movie called "National Lampoon's Vacation."
It's pretty gross, but here goes.
The family packs a picnic lunch and takes it in the car with them. When they stop to eat lunch, the youngest son takes a bite of the sandwich. He spits it out and tells his mother it's 'gross' and that it's all wet.
She says, "I know Dusty, they're all wet."
A few minutes later, as they continue eating, she realises that the dog has peed on the picnic basket.'
'Frisco would never do anything like that!'
'Frisco couldn't even pole-vault that high Rena. We'd have to lift him up!'
'Thankyou very much Calico, but Frisco is more refined than that. Now could everyone put their chicken bones in my little doggy bag. Oh, it's not
for me. For real. This Chihuahua loves chicken bones.'
'He'd better love raw chicken bones, or else he'll be a dead dog. Cooked bones splinter and can puncture his intestines.'
'Trust us, we are doctors'.
'Well thank you both kindly Dear Sirs.'
'Speaking of chicken bones and such, I see that your friend Ray has taken charge of the cooking over there.'
'One of Ray's specialities is outdoor cooking Linda. And he's got plenty of assistants by the look of it. By the way, have you got a comment for us?'
'Surely. Come on, let's wander over and see how the cooking is going and I'll tell you my thought.'
'Our tape recorder is all ears'.
'Okay then, here goes.
Hamburgers are a'sizzlin' on the grill.
The sun's peeking over the hill.
Some revelers play volleyball to the side,
while Ken, Rena, and I get silly on the slip n' slide'.
'That I'd like to see! Poses an interesting picture. Hey Ray, how's it all going?'
'I have an army of helpers on hand, and four barbeques to cook on. Couldn't be happier. Rais pass those sausages over please. And I have a question for you while you’re here'.
'A little riddle. One of the things I haven't begun cooking here yet, represents the name of a well-known, very scary novel. What is the name of the book?'
'Come on Ken, Linda, Abbe. How about you Erica. Anybody?'
'We want a hint'.
'Hmmm, alright. "Anthony" '.
' That would then be, " The Silence of the Lamb-chops" '.
'Too easy Carl! Well done. And for that you can pour yourself and me, a glass of red wine. Chef's privilege. And soon it will be " The sizzle of the lamb-chops" '.
'I'll leave you all to it folks. How long before lunch Ray?'
'Not long, mate, and mate?'
' The tapes about to run out.'
' No bother, I do have spare…'
'…couldn't eat another thing at the moment. Phew! That was some picnic lunch.'
'Courtesy of our hosts and their friends and families and the editorial staff and all that they brought along with them, Ken.'
'And some very good bottles of wine we managed to purchase from the Duty-free at the airport. Nice going people!'
'I propose a toast. Here's to us. The staff, families and friends of Author Me.
As the singing cowboy, Roy Rogers would say, "Happy trails." '
'Happy trails, Bruce!'
'Now everybody, it's over to Carl to begin our after lunch entertainment. Take it away Carl.'
'Quieten down please, quiet there you people in the back. Thankyou, thankyou! And now, ladies and gentlemen, and children, and er, animals, for your delectation I should like to introduce our very own Adam Smith, step up Adam, with a little ditty that will both entertain and edificate. Here for your enjoyment and instruction, I give you Adam Smithhh…'
'Brush up your Shakespeare,
Start quoting him now.
Brush up your Shakespeare
And the readers you will wow…'
'Bruce, can't you see that I'm trying to sing a song here? You know, bring in a little culture…'
'Sorry Adam. Sorry folks. Just a quick question, then you can carry on.'
'Carry on, hmm. Okay what is it?'
'Oh, well, you've got a couple more kids coming over for the baseball game. I just need their names and positions. You know, for the team placement board and scorecards'.
'Is that all? Well just remember that some of these guys have funny names…'
'What, like Bruce and Adam. Or are we talking Taher and Deepanjali here?'
'No "big deal" Bruce, anyway those are special names. No, we're talking Hoo's on first, Watt's on second and Idunno's on third'.
'That's what I'm asking you.'
'That's what I'm telling you'.
'Look, who's on first?'
'That's right, now if you don't mind… Just declaim a few lines from "Othella"
And they'll think you're a heckuva fella. Brush up yo…'
'Adam wait a minute, what's the name of the kid on first?'
'You're getting confused. Watt's the name of the girl on second. Now… Brush up your Shakesp…'
'Adam, Adam, I don't want to know about second. Who's on first?'
'I really am getting mixed up.'
'Hoo's on first.'
'Third base! Give me a break Bruce…Brush up your Shakespeare, keep showing them…'
'How the hell do I know. Look, the kid on first base. When he has a birthday, who gets the presents?'
'Every last one of them. You wouldn't give them to anyone else.'
'Adam, let me get this straight. Just…Why are you looking at me like that?'
'I'm counting to ten Bruce. Thanks. Sorry folks. Back to the song:
If your agent's a bit of a natterer,
tell'im what Tony told Cleopaterer,
and if still, to be shocked, he contends, hell,
just remind him that "All's Well That Ends Well."
Brush up your Shakespeare
and they'll all kowtow…'
'Okay, while you're singing and counting, who's on second?'
'Hoo's on first.'
'I told you, he's on third,'
'Who's on third?'
'Why do you insist on putting Hoo on third?'
'Who am I putting over there?'
'Yes, but we don't want him there…
If your agent's an AuthorMe fright dream
Treat the guy to "A Midsummer Night Dream."
If he screams when the words you are mussing,
What are words? "Much Ado About Nussing…" '
'Adam, for pete's sake, what's the kids' name on third base?'
'Watt belongs on second.'
'I'm not asking you who's on second!'
'Hoo's on first…
If he says that your writing is heinous,
kick him right in the "Coriolanus."
Brush up your Shakespeare
and they'll all kowtow, yes they'll all kowtow.'
'Yes they'll all kowtow!'
'Keep it down! Please, everybody! What can we say after that, except that Abbot and Costello and the whole cast of "Kiss Me Kate" would probably kowtow as well. Thankyou Bruce and Adam. How you both rehearsed that together on the internet is amazing.
Anyway, it's now time to introduce our very special guests.
'Just wanted to say that the ballgame will begin directly after our guests have finished. You know Carl, who's on first...'
'Go and organise.
Now people, I should like to introduce you all to Mister American Pie himself. Mister Don McLean!'
'Sorry for yelling folks, I'll have to turn down the recorder!'
'...for your wonderful welcome. And in answer to your question, no I'm not going to sing American Pie, or anything popular of mine. I want to sing a song that has become something of a cult ditty that I recorded, oh, too many years ago to remember.
And I've modified it, just for you.
It goes like this:
On the Amazon the Punctuations bite.
On the Amazon the Colons all take flight.
On the Amazon the Commas tend to fight-all day.
While Apostrophes- hide in the trees to scare you.
And the Metaphors, with hungry jaws, ensnare you.
Simian Similes are gliding on the breeze.
Greater Periods will have you on your knees.
Semicolons all, just want to poke at you and play.
(In a peculiar way.)
The Introductory Clause- with lunging paws, will tear you.
And Quotation Marks are out at dark to dare you.
On the Amazon, Phrases Dash up and prop.
Everyone avoids the dreaded total Full Stop.
On the Amazon Parentheses prowl about-for prey.
And Italics too, come after you, to squeeze you.
Brackets of sentences are everywhere-to tease you.
On the Amazon the Question Marks at night.
Angry Antonyms can give you such a fright.
Whilst the Homonyms are howling on the brightest day.
Deadly Synonyms-reach out from limbs to seize you.
And temperamental Vowels flex their jowls to freeze you.
The Consonants, of course-are just appalling.
Abbreviations have, a way of mauling.
Oh the Amazon is calling.
Yes the Amazon is calling.
Dot Com Amazon is calling me-ee!'
'Thankyou so much Don, for that remarkable ballad.'
'That's not what I'd call it Carl, but hell! A lotta fun rewriting it to suit you guys.
Now may I have the pleasure to introduce my fellow entertainer. And I should say that I am in awe of this man. He's come a long way to be here, and I can't think of anything more to tell you, except his name. Ladies and gentlemen, boys and girls, and dawgs, Mister Noel Coward!'
'Thankyou, thankyou one and all. How terribly kind of you to invite me to this outdoor soiree, and though I cannot be with you for very long, as I must return to Firefly Hill in Jamaica, I should like to make this a jolly turn. And speaking of turns, yours has come round. Mister McLean…'
'Call me Don!'
'Er, thankyou Don. Don, is passing amongst you with some little pieces of paper, and on them are some lyrics. Join in with, ah, Don and myself if you please.
Ready, one and a two and a…'
'When you're smiling, when you're smiling, the whole world smiles with you.
When you're laughing, when you're laughing, the sun comes shining through.
Pack up your troubles in your old kitbag and smile, smile, smile.
Whilst you've a Lucifer to light your fag, smile boys, that's the style.
Happy days are here again, the skies above are clear again.
So let's sing a song of cheer again.
Happy days are here again.
Underneath the arches, we'll dream our dreams away,
Underneath the arches, on cobblestones we lay.
There'll be bluebirds over the white cliffs of Dover tomorrow,
just you wait and see.
Keep on smiling.
Cos when you're smiling,
the whole world smiles with you!'
'Bravo, bravo. You'll all do well in Community Singing.'
'Give us a break Noel, we're writers and editors. We caint sing to save our souls!'
' "Caint," indeed, you there at the back. Well, let us hope that you can do what it is that you claim to do, since I'm having trouble understanding your vernacular.
Now I should like to sing you a song that I wrote very long ago and far away.
In the northern climes there are certain times of day,
when all the citizens retire to tear their clothes off and perspire.
It's one of those rules that the greatest fools obey.
Because the sun is far too sultry and one must avoid its ultry violet ray.
Beneath the trees other companies are firmly in their ruts
and the staff that be at Author-Me draw a barrage of tut-tuts,
because they're obviously, definitely nuts!
Our dogs and Author-Me go out in the midday sun.
Other editors don't care to, reviewers wouldn't dare to.
Publishing staff, with a derisive laugh, slumber from twelve to one,
but Author-Me detesta siesta.
In the literary scene there are lovely screens to protect you from the glare.
Other firms that rate have hats like plates which Author-Me won't wear.
At twelve noon the critics swoon and no further work is done.
But our dogs and Author-Me go out in the midday sun.
Oh it's such a surprise for other eyes to see, for though our writers are effete, they're quite impervious to heat.
When our authors stride about outside, competitors grin in glee, because the simple creatures yearn to see them redden with sunburn and flee!
Now it seems such a shame when our staff are acclaimed around the earth,
that they give rise to such hilarity and mirth, ha ha ha, he he he,
ho ho ho!
Oh, Jessie and Author-Me go out in the midday sun.
The agents would deflect it, publishers reject it.
In a mid west town when the sun beats down to the rage of man and creature, editors there hunt about in despair for the next block-buster feature.
At twelve o'clock, with writer's block, they foam at the mouth and run,
but Frisco and Author-Me go out in the midday sun!
Our dogs and Author-Me go out in the midday sun.
Reviewers wouldn't view it, the readers would eschew it.
In Mills and Boon the heat at noon is just what the workers shun,
they put their scotch and rye down and lie down.
In the slush-pile swamp where the critics romp, there is peace from twelve to two.
Having had their booze, they sneak their snooze for there's nothing else to do.
In Viking, to read a thing is seldom if ever done,
but Mollie Bea and Author-Me go out in the midday,
out in the midday,
out in the midday,
out in the midday,
our Author-Me Day fun'!
'Sorry, I had to turn the recorder volume down, what with all that applause and the baseball game going on and our special guests leaving and everything happening all at once…'
'Did you get the songs on tape? They were the most important part.'
'Yep. I'm pretty sure I got all of that Sandy, by the way we haven't had a comment from you yet.'
' I knew you'd ask me sooner or later. Okay, well when I was about eight, I penned this little ditty about "Poor Dead Fred, the ant that was Red". Based on a true story of course.
Came to my picnic,
Found him on a thick stick.
"Fire Ant! Fire Ant!" Mama said.
"No!" I cried. "It's Fred. He's red."
'You know Sandy, that's about all Bruce didn't get in for today. No ants…'
'Just what makes that little old ant, think he'll move that rubber-tree plant.
Everyone knows an ant can't move a rubber-tree plant,
but he's got high hopes, he's got high hopes,
he's got high apple-pie in the sky hopes…'
'Before you even ask Ken, that's Frank Albert. He looks after the public gardens. Works for the community, paid by the community. Knows a lot about plants and trees. A real "green thumb". Nice guy. Now, got to go coach my players, their turn at bat not too far away. Here's Adam. Have you had a word or two from him yet?'
'No Bruce, and I'll catch up with you later. How's it going Adam?
'Who's…Ken, I guess you don't understand baseball. I believe it's kinda like your game of cricket. You get a winner after both teams play. Not progressively.'
'Certainly sounds different to our Australian Footy.'
'I'll tell you later. But one thing's for sure. There's a lot I don't understand.'
'Well, I'm not really sure. Anyway, we haven't had your ideas on picnics yet. Care to add some thoughts for the record?'
'Well, I can give you a few that come to mind. At my mother's farm in southwest Ohio, we had a great cook-out when I was twelve or thirteen in the pasture out behind the barn. The s'mores were superb. Those are, in case you don't know, a toasted marshmallow with a piece of Hershey's chocolate between two graham crackers. Smoore etiquette mandates that you wait for the marshmallow to melt the chocolate a little bit before eating.
Then in law school, in the spring at the end of the second year of eighty-eight, we had a party at my apartment complex. I got totally wasted with beer and "Yukon Jack" and therefore my memory's a bit vague, but I recall drunkenly chatting with my Civil Procedure professor, and otherwise having a great time. Missed the trip to the islands of Lake Erie the following day with my friends, though.
More recently, my family had a Halloween cook-out with my in-laws at their farm in Southern Ohio. Father-in-law is a pharmacist and they have a beautiful rural home which my children love to visit. So they had a good time, especially when my mother-in-law dressed up as a ghost and came out to haunt them. Funny how having children puts an end to drunken revelry.'
'No Yukon Jack today?'
'Why no, Ken. And no cherry brandies either. Though I have to admit that your 'mate' Ray is a pretty steady hand with the wine.'
'He's that alright, and a very steadfast friend over the years.'
'Hard to come by.'
'I'll drink to that.'
'Hey, you're our official recorder of this event. Don't get too soaked'.
'Considering the Cook Spicy Punch, which I am told, can raise a chicken from the pan, I'll do my best not…'
'Adam, when are we going to have a scholarly chat about Germaine Greer?
I've managed to avoid volleyball with Monica and Rena and Abbe, at the risk of being called a spoilsport. And what do you think about the sarong from Monica? Does it look alright on a make-up loving, gown dressing, stilettos wearing, calorie watching gal?'
'You look sensational Deepan. Monica should be congratulated.'
'Not that you weren't before. Sensational that is. But you better watch out for the calorie adding desserts, apple pie and such. And how come you're hanging onto a laptop computer?'
'Oh Ken, this little machine. Hollywood said that I could take a look to check out the weather for tomorrow. Seems that outside Sleepy Hollow it's been pretty wild. We travelers will need to know about the climate if we're going to get back home by the first of May.'
'As we all must. Even us locals have to head home. Fantastic day and all that but…'
'Exactly Molly. We need to take a look at the weather…Oh here's Carl with a slip of paper.'
'Scorecard actually. End of ballgame. Ken, over to you.'
'Bruce! Adam's team won!'
'Yes. Well I shall just have to be a good loser. After all he did have Hoo, Watt and Idunno.'
'Me either, and that's what I've been wanting to talk to you about. I get this feeling that things aren't quite how they seem to be here. Like as if…I don't know…As if something's happened that I hadn't planned for…'
'And you know Ken, you're darned right!'
'I am? Well tell me about it!'
'Sure. Turn around and say hello to an old acquaintance of mine.'
'Hi there. It's been a long time Bruce. Glad to drop by. And I haven't come empty handed neither. Brought you these. Thought you might find a use for supper.'
'E.A. So glad to see you again after all these years. Oh, and Ken sorry, how ill mannered of me. This is E.A. a very old friend. E.A. Purpell, this is Ken Mulholland, an editor with Author-Me.'
'Howdo Ken. What's with the tape recorder?'
'Pleased to meet you E.A. I'm making a tape of the day here. Then I'm going to write it up as a report for Author-Me. How do you…That is, where did you come from?'
'You say you're recordin' us right now?'
'Yes. I hope you don't mind?'
'I'm a little shy around those things these days. But to answer your question,
I've come from a long way off, and from a long time ago. Bruce can fill you in.'
'Oh E.A. and I go back many years. He's a missionary. Been doing work all over the world. Was it New Guinea? Am I right?'
'That was the last time we met. I get to travel around a lot in my job. Anyhow, I hope you and your friends enjoy. We'll get together sometime real soon Bruce. Chew the fat over a coke and a burger. Got to be movin' on now.
I'll say hello to your family on the way.'
'Before you go, E.A. what is in the barrel?'
'Clams Ken. Kinda figgered a clam-bake might be a fitting end to your great Author-Me day. Enjoy.'
'Whoo! What a wonderful thought E.A. I'm sure our Australian contingent will love a traditional American cook up. Especially Maria, my wife.'
'Why thang you Ken, thang you ver' much. Good to stop by and watch it all happening. Bruce, we'll be in touch. So long. I'll see myself out.'
'Okay Bruce, who was that masked man?'
'Hardly masked, just wraparound sunglasses. And yes, he is a little mysterious. Getting on a bit, grey hair and age lines. But he hasn't changed too much. Not after all these years…'
'A very old friend came by today, and he was telling every one in town of the joy that he'd just found, Author Me's the name, in the writing game.
Yeah, Author Me's the name in the writing game…'
'Is that him singing, or has somebody put on a C.D. Or am I going a little bit troppo?'
'Ken, Kenny! Come on. Snap out of it. One too many? Come along, let's get these clams over to Ray and the others. They'll know what to do with them.'
'Kenny? Nobody calls me Kenny.'
'I just did.'
'Sure Bruce, but youse on first.'
'I think you mean Hoo's on first.'
'Thas what I wanna know?'
'Ken, I think I just might turn the tape off at this point.'
'Pardon me boy, is that the cat that chewed the new shoes, track twenty eight, to Sleepy Hollow, just wait…'
'I think he's coming out of it Erica.'
'Pity he missed the clams.'
'I get the feeling that clams might not have been such a good idea for Ken. Otherwise we could have a lot more cleaning up to do.'
'Sorry folks, am I back in the real world?'
'Yes Charlie. We stopped recording while we got food on and took a break for dinner. It's almost time to call it a day. You missed all that.'
'I think I just needed a nap.'
'Sure Ken. Probably we'll all be going that way soon. Nice to see that you're back in the land of the living. Mineral water might be the way to go from here on.'
'Thang you…I mean, thank you Linda, yes that sounds good. Must have been something I ate. How are our tapes?'
'Still rolling. Don't worry Ken. We better leave you and the recorder with Bruce while we load up for the trip to the airport. It's time to be going home.'
' Thanks everyone, I feel a bit perkier now. Nothing like a power sleep.'
'So that's what you Australians call a total wipe-out.'
'Bruce. Oh, well, you know: good food and company, a few drinks…'
'Sure. At least you can get up on your two hind legs. Here, that's fine, take hold of my shoulder and do you think you can take the recorder. Watch out! It's still running, and no doubt recording all my drivel…'
'Blue shadows on the trail.
New moon shinin' through the trees.
And the lonesome wail of a coyote,
comes a'driftin' on the evenin' breeze.
Move along blue shadows, move along.
Soon the dawn will come and you'll be on your way.
But until the darkness sheds its veil,
There'll be blue shadows on the trail'.
'Okay Bruce, who's the guy with the guitar on the big horse, over there on the hill. His name wouldn't be Roy by any chance?'
'Him? No, that's Leonard Slye. He runs horses and sheep on his property, and I told him we'd be having this little do. He's just giving us a final goodnight serenade. Everybody on board? Should you do a last minute check to see if you've left anything behind?'
'Me? Check? I'm just holding on to the recorder…and you.'
'It's alright Bruce. I think we've got everybody in both buses. Heads counted, dogs counted. Hand luggage stowed. Can't even think about eating anything for at least the next two days. What about all the things you had brought in? The tables and pool and stuff?'
'We'll take care of all that tomorrow Karanam. Don't give it another thought.'
'We've all had a wonderful time…'
'Sure have Bruce…'
'Indeed we have…'
' Thankyou Shaima, Carl. Better shut your windows. It's getting pretty cool now.'
'And the fog's closing in again.'
' "Mist", Ken.'
'Your not wrong Bruce.'
'How do you mean?'
'Can't say exactly. But I think there is something I've "missed". I just…'
'Better get on board or they'll leave without you!'
'Hey! Don't go without me! Bruce, be talking to you and your family after we get home. I'll send the transcripts of my recordings along soon.'
'Goodbye people. Thanks for coming. Happy trails…'
'Door shut and we're on our way. I can't believe how quickly the time has gone. It' s amazing. Everybody looks pretty tired. I know I am. Perhaps we'll get a little sleep before we get to the airport and our various transport back to homes in many places. Fabulous! Please may I have another day like this in my life…'
'Ken! Do you have to keep muttering into that recorder. The day's over. We're going home now and some of us would like to catnap.'
'Sorry Rena, just doing the final notes…Look outside. Pea soup. I hope the driver knows the road.'
'We're slowing to a crawl.'
'Yes Sandy, in fact we're stopping. Don't blame our driver. He has to think about safety.'
'But will we get to the airport in time?'
'Doreen, if I knew that, I'd be…'
'You'd be what?'
'Listen to what?'
'Oh come on Ken. It's late and we're all too tired to be playing games…'
Blooming under sable skies.
There my heart forever lies'.
'Hear it? The singing?'
'I can't hear a damn thing except you droning on into that silly machine. Really! Give it a rest. You're hearing voices and stuff because you should be putting your head down. After all, it has been a big, big day.'
'Linda, didn't you hear the singing?'
'Well, no. Can't say I did.'
'Didn't anyone hear?'
'No we didn't. Give us a break.'
'Well someone did. Look at the dogs. Wide awake, ears at attention. They heard.'
'Please humour him Linda.'
'Alright Ken. What was the singing about?'
'It was about Brigadoon.'
'Do you mean " The Brigadoon"? The little Scottish village that only ever appears once every hundred years, and then vanishes into the mists?'
'I guess so.'
'You're not thinking that Sleepy Hollow might…'
'Look everybody. The fog's lifting! We're on our way again!'
'And according to the weather forecast we're getting on Hollywood's laptop, we'll have clear skies ahead. A good night for flying.'
'A good night for flying, yeah Deepan. And the old familiar white Lady.
No more pumpkin moon…'
'Your tape is about to run out'.
'Damn! But I still have a spare-Oh no! I've left it on the Cooks' kitchen bench!'
'Just like I did at home with the potato and macaro…'
Additional notes from K.M. after working off jet-lag and transcribing the above tapes.
'When I was a very little boy, I remember being taken by my Mother to see the Walt Disney film "Peter Pan".
Afterward, I desired with all my being that what I had seen was true, and I longed for Peter to come to my bedside and take me away as he had done with Wendy Darling.
Through the eyes of a small child, animation was as real as Father Christmas, and so, upon my Mother's lap, I was desolated to learn that this could not be.
That Peter Pan would not come…Would never come.
That I would not be able to do the things I so fervently wished to.
That I could not simply "wish upon a star" and make it happen.
It has taken almost a lifetime for me to realise that this was not true.
I know now that I 'can' make it happen.
That through imagination, anything is possible.
That You 'can' make it happen.'
'Dream, when you're feeling blue.
Dream, that's the thing to do.
Just watch the moon beams glide through the air.
You'll find your share of happiness there.
So dream, when the day is through.
Dream, and they might come true.
Things, never are as bad as they seem.
'C'mon now. You can do it'
'Second star on the right, then straight on til morning.'
'Happy trails, Family'.