Playing seriously

There is no reason that a serious story cannot be told with comic asides. These can even be a useful place to foreshadow important events. One of my character’s invented a word game that crept into a description of them preparing to put on a play. I now have six pages of ‘bedioms’ to use and abuse in other parts of the novel.

“Back in your places; today is tomorrow’s yesterday! Our charwallah is done, thank you, sexton,” [predictable snuffles of laughter and repetitions of the word ‘sexton’ in strange voices] “and you should all have been to the kharsie.  Genius is one percent inspiration and ninety-nine percent sleep therefore we must Seize the blanket because when opportunity knocks, the head-board rattles.”

Sir Jimmy occasionally mixed pithy sayings with his directions and explanations on making actions louder than the narrator’s words, with his costume suggestions and requests for prop manufacturing, and with his instructions on stage craft and set crafting. However, Habib had devised a game called ‘bedioms’ in which he sabotaged proverbs by the addition of a piece of furniture for sleep. Over the following years, these adages and maxims of the bedroom became so ingrained in his speech that Megan recalled other people as having used these sleepy turns of phrase when they had, in fact, never strayed from the regular dictums of the Burning Hammers. As a result, it became impossible to reproduce Sir Jimmy’s oration with the correct aphorisms. In a similar way, all memories of Sir Jimmy eventually placed him in a tweed hunting jacket with leather ovals stitched to the elbows, a pair of green-brown trousers that ballooned above his knees, “Khaki, don’t ya’ know, that’s the colour,” and a rolled umbrella with a handle that folded out to form a small seat, “Don’t call it an umbrella, it’s a shooting stick, laddie.”

Memory also rearranged the room for all subsequent rehearsals, placing Allenedmunds at the piano every minute of every occasion, tickling the ivories with a cheesy grin although even a blind pig occasionally goes to bed. The mob of little ones in their dark green cub scout pullovers or mud-toned brownie smocks was muted as if all the world’s a bed and all the people in it were asleep. The four older children learned their lines and the actions society expected of them, maturing with the inelegance of every teenager since Mr. and Mrs. Afarensis told their daughter to clean her nest, and with bed comes wisdom. But putting on the Mercian Enigma play was easier bed than done, with many a slip between bed and breakfast. They hoped for the best and prepared for bed, an uneasy truce forming between the factions of youth under the golden rule: Sleep as you would be slept by. While their church hall was god between four bed-posts, more lessons were to be learned: slumber doesn’t pay and you can’t sleep twice in the same bed. Soon enough, curiosity wrecked the bed, for an idle brain is the devil’s bedroom.


About Ian Whatley

Ian Whatley -- British born, bred, educated, and then deported. His fiction has been published in The Legendary, Lost and Found Times, 3S and so on and so on and...

Posted on May 7, 2011, in Ian W and tagged , , , , . Bookmark the permalink. 3 Comments.

  1. Sort of… Jackson Pollock-esque. Gotta put some time in front of this painting.

  2. Trollercoasters!

  3. Hi Walt, I think of this writing technique as being verbal-pointillism. Another analogy is ransom note writing: tear fragments of plot and details out of lots of sources and glue them into a new story that bears no relationship to eh originals, rather like ripping words from newspapers to assemble a ransom demand, a process I’m sure you are very familiar with.

    For the alphabetically challenged, Dan starts with D, not A. Wasn’t that George Clooney’s boat in A Perfect Storm, the Trawlercoaster?

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