I have yet to determine what a juke is, or why a contrivance whose job it is to play songs should be described as being a box of them, however, whatever the reason, I have been experimenting with said contrivance. It costs one coin per song, but it is not as if I have many opportunities to spend my money here. The apartment, the bookshop and a steady stream of rum are all that occupies my income these days. It is not as if I could spend my nights going out whoring, whatever Aoibheann might think of the Bath House, and even if I could, I do not think that I am that person any more. Even back in London, I only rarely patronised Fiendish Pleasures for anything beyond drink and company. But, I was talking about the songs…
The first was prompted, initially, by a somewhat resigned remark on future literacy standard. Scanning the list of songs, I remarked to myself that somebody could not spell beetles. I might have dismissed it as a minor editorial mistake, but for the fact that there were several songs by the same group of artists, and the name was spelled the same, incorrect, way each time. Intrigued, I decided to sample an offering about somebody called Lucy, who was apparently rich and could fly.
The opening line, accompanied by some instrument that reminded me of a concert by musicians from India that Mother had sponsored, amused me somewhat – “picture yourself in a boat on a river” – well, yes; that’s how I arrived on this island. The rest of the lyrics, I can only describe as somewhat surreal. Tangerine trees, marmalade skies, rocking horse people eating marshmallow pies… Mitternacht might have appreciated that line, had she been around. While I did not entirely understand who the Lucy character was, the descriptive passages in the verses minded me very much of the imagery in some works I have read believed, or known, to be influenced by opium – De Quincey’s “Confessions…”, Tennyson’s “Lotos Eaters”, and, of course, Coleridge’s “Kubla Khan”, which I so recently mentioned in the last piece of Serendipity to flow from my pen. I don’t know if opium is still used in whatever era this Mr Lennon McCartney comes from, but it would not surprise me if it played a role in this strange, dream-like song.
A curious name, Lennon, especially as the next song I encountered was performed and written by somebody who used it as a surname, with the far more prosaic first name of John. The song was simply titled “Imagine”. Now this was a song I could almost instantly relate to. A world without war, religion or political borders – perhaps somewhat idealistic, but nevertheless, something to be desired. In a way, I think this is perhaps what I am working towards in Edmund’s adventures, except there, it is the more restrictive moral, social and class barriers I am trying to do without. The refrain, in particular, struck a chord – “You may say I’m a dreamer, But I’m not the only one, I hope someday you’ll join us, And the world will be as one.” I don’t know what sort of world Mr Lennon lived in, save what little knowledge of the future I have gained from the likes of Wren and Gwyn, but from here in his past, I can appreciate his dream and share it.