Act 2: Scene One.
The curtain rises on a gilded hall in Mount Olympus. Several characters are clustered around a stone basin, peering into its depths. A fat man sits in the corner watching television, while an old bearded man dozes in the corner.
Enter Fate in lace gloves, layered black lingerie and lurid makeup.
Fate: “Ahhh, dahlinks, how are you? You missed Fatey-poo, no? Hmmm?”
All grunt noncommittally.
Fate: “Come, I see not vhy you need be so horrid. You like new outfit? Hmmm? Vat you think? Is not too hip and trendy, no?”
All continue to look into the stone basin.
Fate: “Vell, somezink is clear importantly comparing to poor Fatey-poo. Come, move your sack-of-bones butt Aphrodite. Vat you look at?”
Aphrodite: “Oh Fate, isn’t it wonderful?! We are watching the transcending power of Love as it draws two lost souls together into eternal bliss. Look, here on one hand we have the jaded and obsessive-compulsive HW, and on the other The Wonderhorse! See, already a silken cord of silvery light has formed between them and draws them to each other…”
Fate: “Pah! Is no silken cord, big-boobs-no-brain! Is London smog! You Greeks know nuthink! Is always swans bonking ze nymphs or getting up ze duff because god-as-golden-light come in prison window. Pah! Golden shower more like; you all bumsters and munchers I see you. Love? Pah! You lot see Love in monkey shit if hard look.”
Aphrodite: “But Destiny said it was foretold that this was the path for these two disenchanted souls.”
Fate: “Destiny schmestiny. Look him sleep there in corner, head on chest, snore like lazy pig. Back home ve leave in snow to die vhen get old like zis one. Eat eat eat and sleep. No use to anyvun.”
Aphrodite: “But if Destiny says…”
Fate (imitating Aphrodite in a singsong voice): “But if Destiny says… Pah! Vat he know about entertainment? Vis him is all Cary Grant and ze Kerr-witch; smoochy smoochy and oh! ve are kissink in ze rain and we loooove forever. Zis entertainment for dribbling fossils, not for MTV generation! Ve vant humpy humpy, tricksy vomen, bad men in ze Ferrari and Madonna! Zis not entertainment [indicates the stone basin]; zis laboskamy for already idiots.”
Aphrodite: “But Fate, what are you saying? We can’t intervene if Destiny has approved this life path. You of all people should know that.”
Fate: “Pah! You bleach ze brain with ze hair, Aphrodummy. Zere is goink on more here zan meets ze eye.” [Fate turns and addresses the fat man watching television]. “Karma! Oi! Fatty tub-tub! Be leviterating ze fat ass over here now! I vant be talkink to you.”
Karma: “Aw, c’mon Fate, Match Of The Day is about to start. Leave off will ya?”
Fate: “I vill NOT be ‘leavink it off’, like you cannot be leavink off ze pork scratchings and ze Asda specials, Mista Big-Belly Boombah. I need be checkink ze Karma Kredits, so be movink ze twin ass planetoids here now!”
[Karma reluctantly levitates – and with some difficulty – over to Fate].
Fate: “So. My old comrade HW. Vat his credit in ze Karma Bank, hmmm? Good, no?”
Karma: [sighs] “Well, to put it bluntly Fate, HW’s been a bit of a shit lately. He dicked around these two blokes a few days back – was a rude fucker to one, ripped into the self-confidence of the other – so he’s been drawing on his reserves heavily lately. Also deposits have dropped off since he moved to London. In fact, let me just check… [Karma pulls a dog-eared notebook from his robes]… Yep, his account’s in the red for once. It hasn’t been this bad since the 1986 fishtank-theft incident, and back then he had a Childhood Morality Dispensation Certificate. No such luck this time; he’s just being a rude fucker.”
Fate: “In ze red! Interestink. So, vat are you sayink Karma? Do ve be needink a talky talky to Mr C? He vould velcome giving HW a helpink hand.”
Karma: “Shit Fate, I dunno. I mean, Match Of The Day is starting; I’ll miss the highlights. Can’t we talk about this later?”
Fate: “No dahlink, I cannot be waitink until you reincarnate; I am needink ze answer now. Yes, or no?”
Karma: “Fuck. I mean, um, yes, I guess. I mean, it’s not clear…”
Fate: “Ah ha ha! Whoop-ze-dee! Danka Karma, you can be goink now.” [She turns to the wings]. “Chance! Mr C! I am be needink you. Chance!”
[A shadowy figure in a white and black cowl glides onstage. He speaks in a voice that resonates in the bones and dark places of the mind].
Chance: “Who dares call upon the ancient twin powers of Instability and Irrationality? Who claims to master the Realms of Chaos, to plunge into the depths of…”
Fate: “Ya ya Chance, be good to be seeink you too. Could ve skip the intro, no? Ve are beink in teeny hurry today. Good, good. Still runnink ze bingo game on Saturday? Good good. OK, down to business we go.” [Chance hovers over to where Fate is standing beside the stone basin].
Chance: “Be silent Fate. Your noise is as the bickering of harpies over the diseased souls of men. You seek to lecture me, foolish woman, when I already see the paths of infinite possibility stretching our before us. I know why you called me out of the darkness; we roll. We roll for HW… and for The Wonderhorse.”
Fate: “Ya dahlink. Roll ze dice for me. Ve don’t all be havink time to sit in ze darkness, being ze little bit creepy. Roll ze dice for Fatey-poo.”
[Chance indicates two die in his hand, closes his fist around them, a rolls in an extravagant gesture. Fate eagerly stares at the settling dice while Chance stares into the middle distance].
Fate: “A nine! Six and three! Is zat good or bad?! Chance? Chance! Stop vis the Uri Geller channel and be payink attently. A nine! Vat does it mean?”
Chance: “Nine. The Black Crow. It means… Pestilence.”
Fate: “Ha ha ha! Be eatink ze shit and dyink HW! Pestilence for you big boy! Whoopee!”
To pick up the narrative where I left off, the Wonderhorse has agreed to have dinner with me the following Tuesday. I am, to say the least, a little excited. I have booked a very cool restaurant in a converted East London warehouse, had my hair cut, and changed my underwear twice. It is 9:14am. Only 9286 minutes to go.
On Thursday night the weather turns cool yet I sleep with the window open as per usual, only to wake up with a sore throat. I have always been a delicate flower, so this is nothing to be alarmed about. Cycling home on Friday I get caught in the rain (yes, I am a Jane Austen heroine), and by Saturday morning I’m coughing up oysters of phlegm. I resolve to spend the weekend sleeping and nibbling delicately at toast but to no avail; by Monday I can’t even get out of bed.
On Tuesday morning I ring The Best Friend in desperation. She advises me to stop moaning, take 6 Nyquil, a few vodka tonics and be the life of the party. The counter argument is that I can’t laugh without sounding like I’m going to cough up a seafood platter, so I ring up The Wonderhorse and cancel. He is most considerate and agrees to reconvene at the same time and place next week.
I can’t believe my bad luck. I have quite literally not been sick since 1996. What. Are. The. Chances?
Act 2: Scene Two.
The same gilded hall in Mount Olympus. As the curtain rises Fate raises her head from the stone basin. Karma is slumped in front of the television. Chance has disappeared.
Fate: “Vat iz zis!? Vat goink on?! Karma, you fatty rump of pig-maggot belly, “in ze red” you say. “Karma credits are kaput” you be claimink. Yet HW still datink the love-bunny Wonderhorse. How iz zis happenink?”
Karma (without looking up from the TV): “You’re talking to the wrong geeza honey. HW’s low on karma alright, but Chance is far from reliable in these situations. Maybe you should’ve asked one of the lesser gods for help.”
Fate: “Hmmm, maybe you have finger on ze nail’s head for once. Chance no good. So who should I be askink? Lady Luck? Ugh, zat snotty bitch up ze ass so far she is like Greek fudge packer working in navvy submarine. I could be askink Chaos for help? Ugh, ze filthy freak may be touchink me, and ze smell is like grandpapa’s undies zat ve found in ze birthing pen. I guess zere is Ironee, but…”
A sudden rush of wind causes Fate’s hair and clothes to whip around wildly and disturbs books, magazines etc in the hall. When it settles a muscular man in a gold suit and red cape is standing proudly beside her.
Irony: “Ah ha! It is I; Irony! Ready to dispense rain on your wedding day and good advise. Please, don’t take it! Already late? Well, this green light won’t be much use to you but have it anyway! I say, are you feeling the pinch of this mortal coil? Well then take this winning lottery ticket that you can never hope to cash in!”
Irony: “So was it you who called missy? What unique service can I perform for you? Are you holding a soup-drinking competition for ten thousand people? Sounds like you need a lot of spoons. Oh no, all I have is a knife! Or how about…”
Karma: [without looking up from the television] "None of those things are ironic, dickhead. God I hate Canadians."
Fate: “Oi! Be shutink ze gabbing hole, Karma. Now Ironee, dahlink, stop wavink ze gilded meat and two vege in Fatey-poo’s face and be listenink. I am needink a teensy bit of help with ze problem called HW. At ze moment is life all Beverley Hills 90210; I need you to give Fatey-poo a bit more Melrose Place. Okey dokey? Karma has given ze big thumb up, so be not holdink back, okay?”
Irony: “Righty ho! Off to drop a black fly in HW’s chardonnay! Or slip in a ‘no smoking’ sign into his cigarette break! Ha ha! Quake in fear before my sparkling wit, mortal!”
With a flourish of his cape Irony flies out through an open window. Fate sighs and returns to gazing into the stone basin.
In the week between the Abortive Date and the Start Of Something Beautiful I recover to full health. I spend a long weekend with friends in Devon, lazing around in a caravan playing board games and getting the sea air. I use this time to mentally prepare myself for the onslaught of Total Smug Blissdom. This mostly involves practising lines like “oh Wonderhorse? He simply adores me” and “we can’t decide between Eastnor Castle and Windsor for the reception; the catering is supposed to be ghastly at both.”
Upon my return to London I find a voicemail from The Wonderhorse that is a cause for some concern. It states that he can’t meet me for dinner the following evening, and begs leave to call me later to explain. When I get a chance to speak to him he is deeply apologetic and tells of how he was introduced to a friend-of-a-friend at the weekend and although he doesn’t normally do blind dates they really hit it off and now he only has tonight free to see him before he goes to New York and he felt sure I’d understand but now he can’t really meet me and hahahaha isn’t life funny and gosh is that the time he has to go
Oh the gut-wrenching irony of it all.