Journey through space to the Planet Fabulous, where the Ruler of the Universe will see you shortly.

Wednesday, October 13, 2004

The Midnight Hour

So I sat there, determined not to learn anything. My brain was already too full, and I was scared that something important was going to fall out if something tried to take its place.

But dinner with Suze is always an entertaining affair. She was one of The Wife's gorgeous friends from Oz, and we were here to say goodbye to her before she hauled herself and her extra suitcase of "fabulous London fashions" back Down Under. She is one of my favourite people in the world, ever. In real life, she's a teacher - a damn fine one at that, simply because you learned things from her when you least expected it. She'd coat it in innuendo, or as a comic aside, and before you knew it you were an expert on the French Revolution thanks to some filthy comments about bustles. Fortunately, the conversation had been steered around onto Cinderella, which I did consider a safe subject. After all, I knew the story backwards - literally, thanks to a rather harsh primary school with a teacher who was left-handed and loved mirrors like a budgie.

Suze picked at her Thai food, and looked at the assembled table with her deep eyes. Fabulous lashes - you'd wonder if they got a millimetre longer whether she'd have to tip her head back to open her eyes. "Fairy tales are really quite filthy, when you think about it."

I kinda knew about this. I think. I may have been to an exhibition on the subject way back, putting me to think that maybe my brain isn't like a box with a finite space after all, but more like an old VHS tape. Bits and pieces of programmes laid over each other, and every now and again, the end of something bizarre from BBC2 breaks through the static. I think I had been to an exhibition on it, but it may have actually been a trip to the Science Museum when I was five. The quality wasn't that good, but I did recall the distinctive marzipan smell of Play-doh definitely being present. Which didn't help. Suze had carried on, talking about the symbolism of pumpkins.

"You know, there may have been a mix-up with the translations," she said. "The glass slipper - pantoufle de verre - may mistranslation of pantoufle de vair" Her French, I think, was perfect. If not, it was enthusiastically throaty, almost needlessly erotic. I crossed my legs.

"Vair, basically means fur. How rude is that? The Prince is searching for a girl's 'fur slipper'. And he only chooses one of the right size. My kids really start to look deeper into the literature when you put that spin on it."

She leaned in closer, with a conspiratorial air. "I just like the idea that Cinderella was wearing Ug boots."

Damn it. She'd done it again. I'd gone and learned something.

And with dismay, realised I could no longer remember how to juggle.

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