Just to remind you FU and Shane ran into some French rustics, a bunch of Nazi’s, a herd of pigs and the gendarmes on a stroll to the Eiffel Tower.
Oh and it rained a lot.
Upon escaping the riot at the Eiffel Tower Shane and I cut across the park to the Quai Branly and eventually made it back to the apartment, soaked to the skin and filthy. Although I was a tad traumatised Shane appeared to be delighted by the day’s events. With us bursting in Brigitte screamed in horror and ran for cover and my mother calmly picked up the phone to call the gendarmes until she realized it was us.
‘My god…what on earth?’
‘Don’t ask.’ I said and we made for our respective rooms to clean ourselves up. After I had emerged from the bathroom and slipped on some clean clothes I went looking for my mother. Although I was exhausted there were some issues that needed clarification. I found her in the kitchen speaking to the still skittish Brigitte about the evening meal.
‘I will be away so you can make something for my son and Shane, I suppose you had best ask them what they like to eat. Ah, here is Foster now.’ She was about to leave me with Brigitte and I realized that if I didn’t catch her now who knew when I would see her again.
‘Mother, we need to talk. Can we retire to the living room?’
‘Very well.’ She said with her habitual air of exasperation. When we entered the room she walked to the window and looking out absently motioned me to sit, which I declined as anything resembling objects for repose looked about as comfortable as a bed of nails. It was a beautifully lavish room but had the feel of a museum of torture about it. She spoke first.
‘The vases you broke were priceless 18th century Qianlong Foster, if you of a mind to care at all’ She said this in an offhand way without emotion.
‘You would be correct in assuming that I don’t give a fuck’ I said. ‘I am, however wondering what is going to happen to Shane and whether you may want to enlighten me as to what he is doing here? He says his mother is dead! What happened?’
‘Your father….’ She paused. Still looking out the window she continued. The boy’s mother died…that is correct. She had cancer, pancreatic I believe. Apparently the woman’s father and Shane’s grandfather has early onset dementia and is incapable of looking after him. You may or may not be aware Foster, that your father and I have an open marriage. He can do what he likes, however it is very upsetting that things have come to such an unpleasant impasse.’
‘Particularly for Shane I suspect’ No sooner had I said this Shane serendipitously entered the room rather shinier than when I had last seen him. He had his knapsack with him as if further adventures were imminent.
‘Yes, of course.’ She glanced at Shane briefly and turned her gaze back to the river. ‘The reason we wanted you here is because neither of us have the time or inclination to care for the child.’
‘Well at least you are consistent, I’ll give you that. And you are assuming I do?’
‘Your future is inevitably linked to his I’m afraid. We actually require you to take charge of the boy.’ She said with some authority this time.
‘What if I refuse?’ I think I anticipated her response but for some reason needed her to say it.
‘We will stop supporting you financially.’
‘Wonderful’ I said ‘Blackmail, to add to the criminal dereliction you seem to so ardently embrace.’
‘It is a simple transaction.’ She said coldly. You provide a service and we provide the funds for it.’
‘You know mother, it would be hard to invent the monsters that you and father are. One day some boffin looking for a suitable subject for his psychology PHD will be delighted to get wind of your parenting methods.’ This was prescient as it turned out.
‘Dimitri will be in touch with the details. Now I must be off and probably won’t see you for a while. I have a series of concert dates ahead of me starting in Toronto. I have left the schedule with Brigitte.’
‘Will you be sailing there?’ Shane asked with mild urgency. This flummoxed my mother who peered down at him.
‘Ah, yes as it happens I will be voyaging on the Queen Mary to Canada out of Southampton tomorrow. I avoid flying if I can.’
‘Wait.’ He held up his hand and with some urgency rummaged around briefly in his bag and pulled out an old brass sextant that had clearly seen better days. ‘You will need this. You can navigate by the stars using it. Sailors still use them you know. My grandpa said “do not set foot on a boat without one”’ He endorsed this with a confident smile obviously as pleased as punch that he could be of a practical assistance to his new step-mother. He checked it over briefly to make sure it was intact and I suddenly realised that this astonishing object contributed to the downfall of his national socialist foe earlier in the day.
It goes without saying that my mother was completely at a loss as to an appropriate response to Shane’s generosity. She reached down and with as much grace as she could muster, which was not much I can assure you, took the object rather gingerly and thanked him barely audibly. With that she left the room and an hour later, with the help of the concierge, the building. She launched a series of world-wide engagements the next day and we didn’t lay eyes on her again for another eighteen months.
She was in high demand and for good reason. I was in attendance in Berlin one night and equally overcome with emotion as everybody there when she sang the Delibes Flower Duet of Lakme by Delibes. I can’t remember the other soprano. It was the most beautiful thing I had ever heard. I guess the most gorgeous vines can harbour the sharpest thorns.
Dimitri as always came to the rescue and Shane was enrolled in a nearby school. My possessions were brought to Paris and my apartment was let in London. I began to think of further studies for want of anything else to do and made enquiries at the Sorbonne which was within walking distance of the apartment. I enrolled in the Bachelor of Psychology and for some reason had some credits from my previous forays into academia. A four year degree was reduced to three.
The degree was relatively easy if you can imagine being in a lecture hall full of neurotics in front of a professor who was an absurd exemplar of Freudian psychoanalysis. Absurd because it became clear pretty quickly that Freudian theory was undergoing a severe revision everywhere in the world except at the Sorbonne. Freud believed that male original superiority is innate and not a social construct as we all know it to be. This belief coloured all of his work and as such was discredited the world over. One merely has to peruse Freud’s libidinous passages on penis envy…but not too closely.
The hopelessly unreconstructed Professor Faustus Cronenberg was yet another pedagogue who saw it as his mission in life to circumvent my natural inclination towards discombobulating. He was a man who had achieved a very high level of buffoonery by trying to actually look like Freud, his mentor. As well as the ubiquitous goatee and pince nez he wore three piece tweed suits with a fob and smoked Cuban cigars that filled the lecture hall with an acrid, floating bloom.
He employed a fussy manner and was in receipt of a compulsion that saw him fiddle assiduously with the objects on his desk at the front of the lecture hall, continually placing them in an infinitesimally precise order that only he could verify as correct. He never smiled but occasionally smirked when declaiming one spurious notion after another and had a habit of clearing his throat in a way that he might have thought was discreet but for his students was repellent.
He informed me one day in a lather of high censure and desk fiddling, that defying his authority by asking publicly for a reprieve from his lectures on the grounds that he was an “idolater of antediluvian tutelage” was of an impertinence not witnessed since Lawrence Ferlinghetti graced their noble corridors.
Ever the iconoclast I replied. ‘In that case on behalf of all ‘beat poets’ and some feminists I had no choice but to absent myself from his lectures until such time as he had modified his approach to psychoanalysis and, in fact, removed it from the syllabus altogether.’ I ceremoniously left the lecture with a flourish of studied angst.
There was more. I employed the Socratic Method. Questions were enunciated in writing by me to various faculty members at suitable intervals that could not go unanswered. These were spread over a series of weeks and eventually months requiring fulsome discussions with which I rarely engaged. In any case the discourse was usually centred around how my much desired immediate expulsion could impact on the generous millions my father contributed to the coffers of the university.
You may have already guessed that it was my private contention that failing the extremely unlikely intervention of my father, a reliance on this academic schism at the very least would allow me to spend more time at the student bar where they boasted a surprisingly excellent cellar. I could often be found ensconced there in various stages of dishevelment making unsavoury suggestions to the passers’ by.
My reluctance to enslave myself to the steadfastly unmodified curriculum garnered great favour amongst the mademoiselles decorating the halls of learning and many a pleasant evening was spent demonstrating my own, albeit more visceral interpretation of original superiority. One night I, at the very least indicated some academic enthusiasm by studying closely the Kama Sutra and then engaging in the ‘Congress of the Crow’ with a pneumatic young lady by the name of Manon. To accommodate the particular urgency required for this, a thorough textual analysis was performed on the very desk from which Professor Cronenberg released his suppurating pearls of wisdom.
More of the delectable, but peculiar Manon later.
Is it possible that Shane will reappear and partake in more adventures? I can assure you that this is not the last word in regard to this precocious brat!
You may wonder whether I have been a little too cruel to Professor Cronenberg in my efforts to achieve more drinking time.
I am not given to much regret, so I don’t give a tinkers cuss really.
I will leave it up to your own research to best perform with competence ‘The Congress of the Crow’.