The Cocktail Bar

NOTE: This conversation runs backwards! For the benefit of regular readers the newest comments are put at the top.
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Dateline: 20 November 1951 Quirinelle time

Real Wealth

Darlings,

 Here's a giggle and a secret...

 I had to giggle a bit when I heard from Barbi that she wanted a toaster because she couldn't afford a dolly fridge. I giggled because anyone could afford my little fridge because...well... I found her abandoned on the side of a road, waiting for some garbageman to haul her away! She was free, see. Most of my lovely real things I found for pennies or less! In fact, ever since I became an Aristasian, people who are almost strangers have been giving me things from the real world, just because I take such delight in them. Just yesterday a man at a shiny and kinnie windie store (only sells real music!) gave me a shiney of Miss Lynne. Isn't that delightful!

 But here is the secret, dear pettes, so please do come a little closer. Most Aristasians are not exactly rich. Well, I wouldn't want to say that, because really we are the wealthiest pettes in the world, but we don't have a lot of the filthy lucre. Some do, but because none of us wishes to be tied to the Pit, to be wage slaves, etc., we manage with very little of the stuff. And yet, we look, dress, and deport ourselves as though we are swimming in it. Fleeming helps, of course, and I for one am happy to hear so many enthusiastic fleemy plans.

 Must go for now, much love and kisses,

MISS BARBARA


Another Ellhedrine Hello

Hello again!

 What fun to be back. Oh, and Miss Barbara, you liked me putting my head on your shoulder. How very kind of you. I didn't actually go to sleep, you know. I was just resting quite profoundly.

 But who paid for the taxi? I know it wasn't the self because I didn't have 2/3d. Well, thank you, whoever it was. I really did feel a bit tired to take the bus.

 Mina! You are allergic to alcohol. Well, you are very young, of course. But I've a topping idea. Why don't the management serve sodas? Wouldn't that be wonderful? And we could have banana splits and all sorts of things. And for those of us who aren't allergic to alcohol, what about a banana split with advocaat poured all over it. Gosh, wouldn't that be corking. Or uncorking, perhaps!

 Now I am not a vegetarian, and you'll practically never see me without my squirrel coat now that the cold weather is coming (winter draws on, as the music-hall comediennes say - do you get it?).

 Well, you will, actually. See me without my squirrel coat, I mean, because I wouldn't dare wear it with my school uniform. Don't you think it silly that a girl of my age who will soon be a fully-grown Milchford undergraduette (digits cruciform) should have to wear a green school uniform with a tie? You think it is silly, don't you, Miss Barbara? Gosh, I look so silly in that uniform, no one would know it was glamorous little me at all.

 But that isn't what I meant to tell you about. What I meant to say was that, although I am never without my squirrel coat, except when I am "all in green" (which is far too much of the time), I was deeply moved by a passage that I know Miss Barbi will like, and Miss de Culver, and I think Miss Elaluminhela will like it too, though she may have read it in the original Raihira Cairen, especially as she is named for the famous blonde princess of the title. She may like to see the finest of Western translations, though.

 So, as you may have guessed, we are studying the Ithelia of Juliale this term (actually, Eastern names aren't really hard. You just have to know which syllable carries the accent. In Elaluminhela it would be MIN, and you should know that when n and h come together they both have their full value, as in "unholy"). Anyway, here is the passage I liked so much, as a present to you all:

 Darken the Sun? O, my Lady, thy jesting words chill me,
For they may hold a truth far more dreadful and dark than you deem.
Three moons agone, with my maidens, I rode in the forest,
In the depth of the forest where maiden hath scarcely set foot;
And the beasts of the wood, as we rode scurried forth from our presence,
Scurried forth like to creatures that feared we should do them some hurt.
And our hearts did wax heavy to feel that these deer did not trust us,
And our will was to question them; learn what had taught them this fear-
Yet no creature would stay near our stead nor abide inquisition,
But each made away at the sound of our furthest approach;
And she that had young that did play in the dappling sunflood
Did call them unto her and hurry them swift from our sight.
Even as she, who on meeting a friend in the courtyard,
Doth offer her greeting, in reverence pressing her palms,
But to see her once-friend, like a sightless maid, gaze ever forward
And draw in her robe as the friend of her childhood comes nigh;
Even thus in the wood were our gentle hearts smitten within us
As our sweet lesser sisters of earth did eschew our approach.
Here was a problem, it seemed, that defied resolution,
For the problem itself forbade asking of those that might tell.
Then, as perplexity troubled our hearts to the deepest,
We came to a place where a beast stood athwart of our path.
Great was the beast, clad in gold, like a Rayin of the forest,
Gold was her hair that fell over her head, like a maid's,
Full mighty was she, and her voice was like that of the thunder
And wroth did she seem as she rais&egraved that voice to the sky.
Never before, as I wand'red abroad in the forest,
Never before hath the greatest deer off'red me hurt.
Now as I sate saddled high on my milken-white palfrey,
My mount took a fear, and I own, as a blonde, thus did I.
Yet neither did move, for in both of us flows a blood royal,
And Marenkhe, our dark-hair'd companion, did ride to the fore.

 Dashed good, what? Oh, I should have explained before we started that "deer" doesn't mean "deer" in our sense, but any animal [cf German Tier - edx.]


Another note from your Editrix: To appreciate the scansion of this traditional Aristasian blank verse, you must understand that each line carries five stresses: so, in the first line quoted here, the first stress falls on the first syllable: "DARKen the SUN", but in the second line it falls on the third syllable: "For they MAY hold a TRUTH". Be aware of this stress-pattern and you will quickly pick up the music of the verse.

 Note also the alternation of blonde and brunette line-endings (in a blonde line-ending the final stress falls on the penultimate syllable, in a brunette line ending it falls on the last syllable).


Another Province Heard From

Hello, Pettes, all you blondes and brunettes, its me, Ariadne, across the water and then some, 'way out in the heartland of Culveria here in New Quirinelle with Miranda and Rosie and Trudy and Blonde and Brunette Mummie.

 Our ordinator has been on the blink, you see, so we could receive but not send - no matter how many times I said "over," no one could hear me until I remembered to plug in the dolly little thing with all the letters on it that looks like part of a typewriter, then it worked again so thats what I am now writing to you on. But I have been listening to all of you right along just the same, although a lot of the discourse is far beyond my blonde powers to add and retract.

 So I see that Mina the new pette who seems a bit uncertain of her sex (I for one was never confused, about mine I mean, sillies!), is nostalgic for the good old days at St. Yvyanne's Neuraesthenia Clinic in Kent, with Dr. Silverthorne and Sister Yrsula and Miss Heatherington. Don't be, Mina darling, St. Yvyanne's was not always a bed of cherries you know, oh contrare! It was a hospital, after all, a girl was not free to come and go as she wished. But, La! That's just so much spilt milk under the bridge if you know what I mean. Here in the Bland household, we are all Very Responsible Girls, there are no cheeky underage brunettes lurking about making suggestible wisecracks and quite frequently pinching a girl on her whereabouts and we keep very regular hours, work hard in the garden and in the kitchen and in the sewing room, play Clue or Monopoly in the evening sometimes, and on Fridays and Saturdays we go to the Bijou to see an up-to-date film.

Last Friday they had a film from Trent called First a Girl, starring Miss Jessie Matthews. Do you know Miss Matthews? She is a rather famous Trentish star of the London stage and silver screen and frequently makes many films. She is really rather a tiny pette, but full of energy like the compressed mainspring of an alarm clock (but she never runs down) and she sings, well, not like that nightingale all you pettes keep chirping about, but more like a warbler. In the film, she is in a gigantic birdcage the size of an omnibus and she sings the loveliest song called Everythings in Rhythm With My Heart. It is so sweet, not a creed de corps at all, so I sat through the film a second time so I could write it all down in my little red alligator notebook, so here it is:
 
 

Everything's In Rhythm With My Heart

Everything's in rhythm with my heart
The flowers that grow and the breezes that blow
Seem to go with the flow of my song
And the song I sing's in rhythm with my heart
Every creature seems to take a part
The birds in the sky keep in time when they fly
Way up high as they migrate in spring
Even spring begins in rhythm with my heart
Makes no difference where I go
On land or on sea
All hearts are dancing with me
They understand
Everyone's in tempo, even children at play
The world is happy and gay, it's grand
Everything's in rhythm with my heart
The rhythm is sweet, even crowds on the street
Move their feet to the beat of my song
Everything's in rhythm with my heart

 [Instrumental]

 Everything's in rhythm with my heart
The rhythm is sweet, even crowds on the street
Move their feet to the beat of my song
Everything's in rhythm with my heart

 Oodles of kisses from

 ARIADNE
(Over and out)


Darling, we haven't had any under-age brunettes in here for ages. I think it was just rather unfortunate that a new and rather flusterable (not to say, if it isn't too forward of me, more than usually eminently pinchable) bar-blonde should have taken up her duties just as Miss lia Caerelinde's rather spectacular performance was drawing in a clientele rather different from the gentilmaids we normally have here. We do not say you would be immune from pinches if you were here now, but they would certainly happen much less frequently and with much more finesse.

Furs and Satin

Darlings,

 I just wanted to tell you what my brunette said during dinner tonight, when I told her about the fur chit chat here. She said, "Oh, the bongos telling people to stop wearing fur is a bit like them saying, 'Stop Wearing Satin Gowns.'" It's true, isn't it!

 Love Always,

 AMY DE CULVER


The analogy is absolutely correct. If the bongos could find any excuse, however flimsy (and it could hardly be much flimsier than a meat-eating society's anathematising furs), to declare satin "immoral" they would do so. But it does not really matter to them, because furs are not important to the Pit in themselves. They are symbolic. They are important to Pit-propaganda not for what they are, but for what they stand for. Every woman, when she reads anti-fur propaganda, knows on a subliminal level that she is actually being ordered by the swaggering Hitler Youth of the Pit not to be feminine, not to be superior, and above all, not to combine the two.
Dateline: 19 November 1951 Quirinelle time

Mina Again

Ma belles,
I am still in a romantic sort of velvety blue funk from having just swooned transfixed before the gorgeous lyrics reproduced here so kindly by Mehitabelle... I have now thoroughly resolved to march right out and find some jinky Real recordings as soon as possible. (I had been keeping myself from succumbing to this temptation because of financial considerations - but now I must say to myself "May the devil take such punishing 'practicality' and self-discipline! If I am to be a real, genuine true blue blonde, I ought to leave any discipline I may need to shrewd brunette instructresses, after all.") Perhaps I'm not really a blonde...

 But now back to the reason for my speechifying, which is of course the piercingly lovely "The London I Love". Anyway, a funny little thing occurred just as I glanced at the lyrics. I know for sure that I've never, ever heard that delightful chanson before, but immediately upon the first line an entire, perfectly formed melody popped right into my head... It was as though Miss Vera Lynn was singing - oh how can I exactly say it... It was as though she was singing from within me - from my very heart. For that song seems to evoke a London I know, but which I have only glimpsed in dreams and memories perhaps not wholly my own... It is the London, I think, that some of those from the colonialised lands - such as my own recent ancestresses - must have visualised and longed for, and which was irretrievably lost before they, and afterwards their children, had even the chance to experience it.

 How melancholy it all is! And I shall make it even more so by mentioning the Pit. For I have just realised that the true reason for my diligent avoidance of Pit-London - since the last outing I went on with my school, years ago - does not lie with bombs or expenses or even delicate health. At heart I know that I cannot come to London because it isn't there anymore. And I cannot let my spirit be further broken by the horror of the full physical confrontation with London's annihilation.

 But at least now I can try to keep my tune to 'The London I Love', in memory, and hear it internally whenever I step out into the falling twilight of my town. And at least here there is a (somewhat) gleaming river, and the disconsolate chiming of bells. Still it's not at all the same, is it...

 I wonder if anyone knows the words to 'Lilac Time'?

 MINA
in Kew Gardens in the spring...


More Lyrics

Dear Ladies,

 I have just noted the request for suitable song lyrics, and I have been looking through my collection for suitable specimens. There are quite a number of really fine recordings available of the best bell canto arias in English.

 Here is a small selection:

 1. Joan Hammond 'O mio babbino caro' (Puccini)

 2. Adelina Patti 'The Last Rose of Summer' (trad)

 For those of you with tastes a little more, shall we say, sophisticated, I might suggest a fine collection of traditional Swedish folk songs sung by Jussi Bjorling (mmmmmmm!) and to explore the little that is available sung by French soprano Emma Calve (if you can find anything...all I can find is one recording of a couple of arias from 'Carmen'). happy listening!

 LAURA


Sweetipops, Our Own Nightingale

An astonished (so, what else is new?) Sweetipops, here, my luscious, and sometimes alliterative, lovelies! Ramona, darling, I'm so happy to see you back! As you were one of my earliest Aristasian acquaintances, indeed, the first to welcome my, perhaps, over-eager advances (one might say that I threw myself at your completely captivating self--Daphne, you stunning seductress, you seem to know what I mean--and, on top of that, I was such an achingly amorous adolescent at the time...after all, before I came to the Cocktail Bar, brunette was just a hair color...but now...that is...in you I discovered that brunette meant...well...brunette! and my little blonde heart just melts at the sight of so many!), you hold a special place in my heart and mind. Barpette! If you please, my bubbling beauty, would you put the returned, ravishing Ramona's Mimosa on my tab? Oh, that's right! Miss Barbara has already bought this round...Miss Barbara, my special, brilliant brunette, thank you for always seeing the bright side...as well as for my martini. Actually, for just being here for all of us. And now, my romantic Ramona, tell me, how can you truly be lonely? How can your manifold feminine charms be ignored by any blonde in her right mind? Or even in her wrong mind?

 Mehitabelle, my luscious, lyrical enchantress, how can I ever thank you enough for coming to my rescue with real music? My blonde blood, every delicate pink and lavender drop of it, moves with a new sense of sublime serenity whenever I think of that nightingale...and how could anyone ever stop thinking of her? The essence of romance, real romance, is perfectly expressed by that simple, yet profound, song and my spirit is tenderly transported to those memorable affectionate and sensual occasions that I have experienced here...at the Aphrodite Cinema...under the lime tree just down the way...Oh!...I tremble and feel little, itty, bitty tears of upwelling poignancy threatening to spoil my superlatively shadowed and subtly, but richly, mascara'd eyes as those sweet memories are almost relived. Annalinde, sweetheart, is it recalled memories that are glistening in your exquisite eyes as well?

 There! Just a little dab with this hankie will do the trick...let me see...Ah...such delicious, dainty thoughts (the only kind I ever have, of course!)...but...what's this? Soft, swirling, sensual, lettering...a beautiful "D"...on this hankie. Why, dearest Diana! Is this yours? Did your own tender touch embroider such elegance as this? I must have gotten it, somehow, from Miss Elizabeth. Here, darling, perhaps it holds piquant memories for you of your dear companions, wherever they are now. I miss them, too.

 But, enough, my darling Diana! A-fleeming we must go! I can't wait any longer! Your words fill my little head with the most exciting visions of ourselves in the most up-to-date fashions. Vintesse, you say? You would look so attractive in one of those dresses with the fringe everywhere, swirling and delighting every pette's eye every time you turned this way and that. Why, you would just be the bee's knees! And myself? Well, I wanted Trent to be my home, but...Quirinelle, and those gorgeous garments that seem to go out of their way to curvaceously caress and fondle a girl's most feminine charms...well! The more I see, the more enticed I become. I will try on everything and you simply must tell me what make me look the most fabulous and exciting! You will, won't you? And I will do the same for you. We will have a marvelous time! We can look at the glass, as well. Do you suppose...don't laugh, now...it may seem kind of silly...but...do you think that the real world has something like...a pretty toaster, with soft, round curves, and useful little handles that wouldn't fall off after they were used a few times? I certainly hope so. I want to feel the same kind of pleasure that so many of the Aristasians seem to enjoy in simple things that subtly remind them of how beautiful everything can be in a real world, and I just can't afford something like a real refrigerator.

 Are you ready? I am!

 Ablaze with enthusiasm, I remain
Your Sweetipops,
BARBI


Dateline: 18 November 1951 Quirinelle time

Music Playing: Begin the Beguine by Marychild's Dance Orchestra


The Joys of Fleeming

O my dears, the Cocktail Bar is become such an exciting place of late! Pettes from far before my recent entrance, and pettes who are delicately dipping their pretty little toes into the new-found waters of Aphroditism--it's all too much! In, of course, a fabulous way. Only I do wonder, what has happened to my lovely friends, the divine Miss Rebecca and the tantalizing Miss Elizabeth? It has been so very long since either of them has come in and added their wonderfully well-bred wits to the conversation. (And there, my dear Barbi--you're not the only one with a penchant for alluring alliteration. Smile.)

 And Barbi--of course I still want you to go fleeming with me. I am not exactly a stranger to fleeming, but our expedition will be the first time I have gone with a strictly Aristasian view-point. Now that I look back on my love for fleeming in the past, I see that it was, indeed, a feminine instinct which led me to treasure and covet those marvelous things of the Real World. I especially love glass--those sweetly curved vases and ewers of colored glass, often with engraved images of grapevines and goddesses on them. Oh my! I can't wait to go! And of course, we shan't neglect finding new outfits. I believe some places which sell Real clothing do have dressing rooms (for Barbi, although I don't mind at all your imagination, I do find myself blushing a bit at the paths it tends to take. No, my dear, don't change it--it is too perfectly blonde. But I think a dressing room might be looked upon as...well, let us just say, the better part of discretion). The places with dressing rooms are called, I believe, "vintage clothing shops"--ha! As if they were selling something used, rather than the most spectacular Aristasian fashions from all over the land. Quirinelle, Kadoria, and Vintesse are represented very well. And I love outfits from Vintesse. Although Amazonia was my early influence, I must confess to an absolute fascination with Vintesse and also Kadoria. Someday I would like to settle in Vintesse.

 Well, I am rambling now, like any blonde--you'd never know I was a brunette from this little speech! That probably means it's time to stop--both talking and drinking.

 With love,
DIANA


Mina Introduces Herself

O, hello hello...
I suppose I shall at last make a spectacle of myself, despite my hesitance; for I admit that the splendid Aphrodite is the first cocktail bar into which I've ever, ever stepped. Alas, though I am hardly a stranger to unworldlyness, my lack of experience in such an establishment is surely not so much the result of unworldlyness as it is of my tender age and unfortunate allergy to alcohol. (Oh drat, so unglamourous!) And it does seem that Eastern pettes so rarely appear 'round these houses. Not, of course, that I've actually voyaged all the way from Amazonia to arrive here this very night. On the contrary, I make my abode in Telluria not far, I fancy, from where the legendary Ariadne took her gracious (if occasionally turbulent) convalescence in a particularly magical, though invisible to the Tellurian eye, Aristasian racinating retreat. I am speaking, of course, of Nether Mynton and the ingenious St. Yvyenne's Neuraesthenia Clinic therein. The place of my own residence, however, is a once famously elegant and romantic town - now Pit-(and lout)blighted - yet still, I admit, much less so than is the case in so many other towns.

 I'm afraid I've gone on and on, haven't I? I do hope that my presence here won't be unseemly... and I apologise for any peculiar Arcadianisms surreptitiously creeping into my speech. They are very likely an effect of the sorority I enjoy with my charming Arcadian friend and housemate (housepette?) Evangeline. (I wonder if she has made an appearance in the Aphrodite yet...) As for me, being as I am an Eastern maid in Telluria, my hope lies in retrieving what I suspect to be my identity as an Amazonienne-in-Vintesse (sort-of-thing). A Vinteszonienne, perhaps?

 As I am being so forward I shall ask: Is there, by any chance, such a thing as a non-alcoholic Blonde Bombshell? If not, a lovely glass of ginger-beer will perfectly suffice.

 MINA
(who thinks she may be a blonde, but cannot seem to be quite absolutely sure...)


A non-alcoholic Blonde Bombshell - well, that would be mostly cream and sugar-syrup without the whisky. It might be a touch bland, but you're welcome if you want one. Otherwise there's plenty of ginger beer. Welcome. It's nice to hear from you.

From the Ridiculous to the Sublime

Dear Darlings,

 I just had a dreadful experience down in the dreary old Pit. I won't poison you with the details, but tonight I went to an academic presentation at my Pit-"university" and had to leave half way through and felt as if I was going to be sick and, darlings, this is honestly the truth, sobbed all the way home for how dreadful it was and for thinking about how real academic gatherings would be so very different from all of this bongo nonsense. I felt I had to go to this silly affair for reasons to do with teaching and finishing my silly thesis, but I won't go to any more. I don't care what they will or won't do for me because of it. Nothing is worth giving up my health for.

 You are the saviors of my mind, really, for I was all corroded from the anti-intellectual atmosphere of the bongo-U. Darlings, it has gotten much worse than you would ever guess, but I suppose that's no surprise really.

 And so I need a drink and a blonde to sit beside me and help me forget all about the banality and ugliness. There. Why, bartendress, how did you know my drink is a Mamie Taylor? This place must be as magical as everyone says. And, oh, must be my lucky day, there is a sweetie sitting over there all alone in the corner. Darling, why all alone? Are you waiting for someone special or is this seat free? Oh, thank you, now we can both console each other, for looking into your big blue eyes, I can see that you, too, are disturbed by something. Oh, yes, the Pit. It is dreadful. And sometimes it takes a mome or two to slough it off even once you're here. But listen to that, it's Miss Annette Hanshaw singing, "Get Out and Get Under the Moon."

 Underneath the bright, silvery light,
you'll be feeling better soon,
Just take up your hat,
close up your flat,
get out and get under the moon.

 That's better, isn't it? Now I see the light coming back into your baby blues. Now your furrowed brows are unfurrowing and that Pit-induced anxious expression is fading, nay, transforming into the wholesome visage so everyday in the real world. And I am feeling much improved myself as well. More sane and more healthy as each moment passes. Blonde Baby Doll, would you do me the great honor of dancing with me? Now they are playing what might very well become our song, should we continue this way, dancing cheek to cheek, whispering in each other's ears. Oh, you say that I forgot to introduce myself and you haven't seen me around here before? Well, darling, I am very pleased to make your charming acquaintance and I am, Most respectfully and at this moment most happily,

MISS MARGARET MILLER,
brunette


Back to London

Lyrics for Annalinde

 Well, of all the cockamamie Kadorian songs in the world, why did I have to pick that song on that shiny? Chalk it up to Aristasian Coincidence, darlings ... it simply happens all the time! But now I shall kill two cats with one stone - more lyrics for Barbi, and, for sweet Annalinde, (the poor dear has really set herself up for this!), another gentle thrust of that golden dagger, another wrenchingly lovely Vera Lynn song.
 
 

The London I Love

I only have to close my eyes
And visions of my love arise
Changed though she may be, in dreams I'll always see
My London as the daylight dies
Street lamps aglow and newsgirls calling
City I know with twilight falling
Deep in my heart I keep recalling
The London I love
Small, cosy bars and cheerful greeting
Long lines of cars and lovers meeting
Under the stars a heart is beating É
The London I love
Breathless and fast, the crowd hurries past
Now the glow in the London sky
Velvety dark, the trees in the park
Touch my heart and I don't know why
Mayfair hotels, their windows beaming
Chiming of bells, the river gleaming
You are my dream, I'm always dreaming É
The London I love
Bright coloured lights, Palladium nights
And a world that was always gay
All you have been will stay ever-green
In my heart till another day
Love's true song and swing doors turning
When will these things be more than yearning?
Come back my world, with bright lights burning É
The London I love.

 Darlings, I dread mentioning the Pit in the same sentence with Miss Lynn, but all you new pettes, who are not yet familiar with real music, take note of the complexity of the lyrics - a complete, literate poem, really, a whole little story, not the same four or five one or two syllable words grunted and shrieked out over and over again to the deafening "accompaniment" of crashing metal and harsh electronic static.

 MEHITABELLE


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Some one has described Aristasia as "one long conversation". Well, Aphrodite is rather like that. If you want to catch up on the conversation so far, the Archive is the place to do it.
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