'Darcy and O'Mara' is a novel by Arthur Cronin.
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Friday, May 18, 2007

The Orchestra

The strong wind makes the garden dance and provides the perfect musical accompaniment. All the local daisy farmers become entranced by the daisies' dance in the sun.

My cousin Charlotte joined an orchestra. She wanted to play the violin, but too many of the violinists had lost limbs while performing. The copper pipes was the instrument to take up if you weren't averse to head injuries. She soon discovered that the pig was the most dangerous instrument of all. In the end she decided to play the alarm clock.

She loved travelling with the orchestra. Sometimes they stayed in hotels in cities. Sometimes they slept on mattresses in fields and the birds were their alarm clock. Some birds sounded like a note played on the xylophone when they flew into a tree. Other birds glowed in the dark and acted as light bulbs so they could read or look at their hands. Charlotte read travel books, and sometimes they played in places she'd already read about. In one of those places, all of the birds were red. The travel book had never mentioned this, so Charlotte decided to write her own.

A man called Jack joined the orchestra. He was an electrician, but he decided to become a pianist after seeing the film made about his life. In the film he was portrayed as a pianist for the sake of convenience. They also armed him with a hand gun, for convenience. Charlotte spent a lot of time listening to him because he provided some great material for her book, even though most of what he said was from the film. He dreamt of living that life he saw on screen, spending days in his boat, shooting things. Nights would be full of excitement. In the film he had to steal a diamond from a glass case in the centre of a huge room that was full of bubbles, and if one of the bubbles burst, the alarm would go off. As with most things he did, he had to shoot his way out. He never actually played the piano with the orchestra, but he could make electricity dance with his fingers.

A woman called Cynthia used to play the ice with a metal bucket, but she walked out when the conductor told her he'd rather hear a seal falling off a bus shelter. She set up an orchestra of things you can hit with spoons, and within weeks she had over a hundred members. One of them used to play the harpsichord until it was stolen by a one-armed man. He searched the world for that man, but to no avail. He walked over mountains, where he heard Bach from somewhere underground, and when he came to a guest house to stay for the night he noticed that his hair had grown upwards to create a magnificent architectural structure over his head, and he heard a beautiful symphony when he saw it in a mirror. You couldn't get much of a sound out of it when you hit it with a spoon, but Cynthia let him into her orchestra anyway, and he proved to be a huge attraction.

Charlotte's orchestra travelled to a place where butlers lived in the wild. They'd been released into the woods following the decline of the manor houses in the area, and some of them had kids. There can be as many as ten in a litter of butler puppies. The fully grown butlers taught the young all the survival skills of etiquette. Many knives were incorrectly placed and wine glasses were broken during the learning process. The puppies loved to play, often biting each other's heads. Charlotte's orchestra made friends with the butlers, who were only too willing to serve them. Every musician had a personal butler. Charlotte wrote about them in her book. She enjoyed observing their behaviour.

Cynthia was jealous of the butlers. When Charlotte and her fellow musicians were staying in a woodland clearing with their butlers one night, Cynthia's orchestra launched a raid and captured many of the butlers. Jack tried to fight them off with an umbrella. He assumed he'd be able to do it because he did it in the film, but it didn't work in real life.

They needed to get their butlers back, so they hired a man who'd been shot in the head many times and lived to tell the tale, or his version of the tale. His stories often involved aliens or Australians who kept jumping up and down and were always drinking beer. Australians objected to his racial stereotyping. Boomerangs often flew by his head, and sometimes they hit him, but he didn't mind. They'd knock on the door of his head, but they couldn't get in, unlike the bullets.

He managed to get the butlers back, but this only incensed Cynthia, and the Australians were on her side then. She led the charge against Charlotte's orchestra, who all ran away. Charlotte saw only one possible ending, and it was the ending used in Jack's film. It involved a speedboat chase and explosions.

When Charlotte and her fellow musicians reached the coast they found two speedboats. She realised that they couldn't possibly conduct a speedboat chase where one orchestra and their butlers are chased by another orchestra and their Australians.

It ended with the conductor apologising to Cynthia for his remark, and she agreed to re-join the orchestra. The other orchestra, the butlers and the Australians were released into the wild. Charlotte would have loved to have been able to observe them. She thought it would make a great sitcom, with the three groups getting on each other's nerves because of their differences. But she had to move on with the orchestra.

The moose's head over the fireplace is looking forward to the Champions' League final on Wednesday. It's Liverpool against Milan again, just like two years ago. It's unlikely to be as dramatic as that, but as long as Liverpool win, the moose's head will be happy.