My father had taken to improving himself physically and spiritually, if not materially: I was still living off funds that had been obtained by deception, deception of Nancy Sinatra to be specific. One evening I found Tom Jones queerly dressed — in flared nylon trousers and a relatively clean shirt; anyway you could not see the smears amongst the Hawaiian print. He said, “I am going to see a Spiritualist I heard of in Vegas, all of The Flamingo was raving about her when I left, she tells fortunes.”
I went along out of sarcastic spite — I think you know how I feel about vegan hippie shit. But the Spiritualist was not a fabulist but a fanatic. Though the programs were headlined ‘What does YOUR future hold?” her insight concerned itself mainly with the prospect of Eternal Damnation. Indeed the evening was sponsored by the Australian Liberal Party. At the back of the room a little man sat amidst a pile of boxes recording for the Christ at Home Channel and commentating throughout.
“Mrs Semple MacPherson-Kardashian says why bother looking Abroad for people to Save when there are so many heathens already in America? In California especially. She describes how it came to her…”
Then on the platform before us Mrs Semple MacPherson-Kardashian drew herself up on her shapely silken legs. She was wearing a dress of black jet, a long string of pearls, very ugly, expensive shoes with a large square buckle of semiprecious stones intended to strike a Puritan note. Though she was a short, slim woman, her feet must have been size 12. She said: “All at once my hands and arms began to tremble, gently at first, then more and more, until my whole body was atremble with the Power. Almost without notice my body slipped gently to the floor, and I was lying under the Power of God, but felt as though caught up and floating!”
“Gosh, isn’t she wonderful?” my father whispered. “She really holds the stage — like the epic ‘Twilight’ saga.”
The refreshment table presented a dispiritingly teetotal spread of small glazed cakes and the bad type of fruitcake that has inedible nuts in it.
“I thought you meant we were seeing a spirit medium, not an evangelist,” said I.
“Well, I did,” said my father, spitting the nuts discreetly onto the floor. “But Mrs Semple MacPherson-Kardashian was really just as good, don’t you think?”
“Did you really think that Mrs MacPherson-Kardashian was wonderful, or have you gone feeble in your old age, father?”
“Oh yes,” said he, with sincerity. “The way she said she felt – it is how I feel sometimes when I’m drunk. So light and floating and closer to God.”
Later on I met my cousin Frankie at the Sexty Sex Cocktail Lounge. He did not know that Tom Jones was alive so when I told him that I had just been to see Mrs Semple MacPherson-Kardashian he was confused.
“Is that something that interests you?”
“Your Spiritual Welfare.”
“I can’t say it does, cousin. Not terribly. In fact, not at all. ”
Now cousin Frankie looked at me with loathing. “As a matter of fact that is a topic that interests me very much,” he said.
“Yes, yes, very much. Perhaps you’ll say it is only the whim of a man, but I take Spiritual Welfare very seriously indeed. My maternal grandfather was a clergyman. A very learned and well respected man. He was a favoured advisor to Queen Victoria on all matters to do with Spiritual Welfare. And a great lover of children.”
“I’ve often heard it said, cousin.”
“Yes,” said Frankie. “My grandfather Lewis held that the purity of children is the closest– the closest we come to know God in this life. Such God-given innocence is something that must be cherished and protected. He was the first of the great Industrial Capitalists to give his black child slaves a break at midday so they’d have the time for laughter and prayer.”
“Are you feeling quite well, cousin?” I had to ask. “Have you been drinking alone here?”
“As a matter of fact, I am teetotal now,” said Frankie. “I am on a lemon and cayenne pepper detox, and only filling my body with things that are pure and natural.”
“Now really Frankie, in your natural state you’re as soaked as a fish. It’s never a good idea to quit drinking suddenly. That’s when you start to see pink elephants. Do you really think it wise?”
But cousin Frankie clutched his orange juice defiantly.