The mysterious mechanical contraption in the corner of the bar, otherwise known as the jukebox, contains music. Well, for a very broad definition of music, at least. I suspect that it is some kind of automatic phonographic disk player, from what I can see of the internals, but clearly the music hails from some time past mine. Possibly 80 or 90 years from my time, from what I have been told.
We had a new visitor last night. Well, new to me anyway. Aoibheann had obviously already met her when she arrived later. Her name was Carmen, with some French-sounding surname that I didn’t quite catch – Arseneau or something like that. She came in with a bow and quiver on her back, which she set down before sitting. Since she greeted me in French, I responded in the same language, which elicited a smile. She said later that it was pleasing to speak her mother tongue. We only conversed for a short while in French, until I had to give up, admitting I was somewhat out of practice. Her accent had thrown me slightly and it turned out she was Creole and from Louisiana. We chatted a while about learning languages, and the perils, in my case; of learning language in the sorts of places I learned some of my vocabulary. She was not at all taken aback; indeed, she implied that she had learned a similar vocabulary herself. At this point, Aoibheann turned up, looking far more chipper than I had seen her of late. I curtailed my desire to discuss language acquisition further, for though Carmen might have had some interesting tales to tell, I did not think Aoibheann would appreciate the subject matter.
She was excited about some good news from Anna, or possibly about Anna, but was reluctant to reveal it in case Anna wanted to do so herself. I suspected it had something to do with Riley, so mentioned the games we had played the previous evening. Aoibheann mentioned that Riley had been coming along famously, but was worried that I should not let her play with the jukebox. I assured her that we had been playing in the courtyard, but took the opportunity to ask what it was for.
And that’s when she told me – you put money in and it sings music. She demonstrated by inserting a coin and inviting me to press a button. So I did. I think it said something about a Free Bird on the label. What I got was a rather strange song, sung in what sounded like an American accent. The lyrics were something about the singer asking if the listener would remember him if he left here tomorrow. It was very strange, very upbeat and loud, but strangely melodic. There was a lot of very frantic piano and an awful lot of what I was assured was electric guitar. I have no idea what a guitar would need electricity for though. It was rather shocking, even compared to some of the more lively music I have heard in taverns and clubs on the continent. However, I think I could get to like it.
Aoibheann suggested I have another go, so I inserted another coin and perused the labels carefully. Now, I thought, here was something more to my liking; something orchestral and something by Beethoven. Or so I thought – it said Electric Light Orchestra on the label and “Roll Over Beethoven”. That seemed more promising.
And so it was, for a few bars anyway. There was the familiar and comforting opening motif of Symphony number Five, prompting me to raise my imaginary baton and conduct along. Except that it suddenly turned into something more akin to the previous number. More electric guitars and frantic piano. And singing something about local Deejays, though I am not sure what a Dinner Jacket might have to do with anything. The song had some interesting moments and a quite intoxicating rhythm. Despite all the changes, there were portions of the symphony still in there, albeit somewhat speeded up and heavily modified. Perhaps a variation on a theme would be the kindest way to describe it. Carmen tried to tell me it was somebody called Chubby Checker, but I pointed out the label to her and she then realised it was different. Apparently this Mr Checker had also sung a version of this song. Aoibheann was less than impressed and disappeared off to clean the kitchen, as she is so often wont to do.
Carmen then had a go at the jukebox device, selecting a song by the aforementioned Chubby Checker. A song, apparently about a dance called The Twist. I told her that I was familiar with formal ballroom dancing and some folk dances, but was unfamiliar with The Twist. Carmen told me that it consisted largely of rotating the hips in one direction while rotating the shoulders in the other, and demonstrated briefly. Ever willing to try new things, I attempted to follow her instructions. This was a mistake. At least, it was a mistake so far as my vertebrae were concerned as several of them protested with some considerable clicking noise and a not inconsiderable amount of pain. Much as I was enjoying exploring new music and the company of an attractive woman, I felt that I should excuse myself at this point, said my goodbyes and left. A good long soak in the tub back at the flat relieved some of the pain, but I was still in some discomfort the following morning when I awoke. I think, for now, I will pass on learning to twist. With magic and cookery, I think I have enough to learn.
Talking of magic, I practiced a couple more times with the crystal and making it glow. It certainly is becoming easier, but I don’t think I am at the stage of being able to conjure it at the snap of my fingers. But then, maybe that only happens for stage magicians. I will practice some more before asking Mitternacht to take me forward to the next lesson.