Vigyázat! Cselekményleírást tartalmaz.
The Picnic and Suchlike Pandemonium 2 csillagozás
The forecast predicted warm, dry weather, the Rolls was for once in working order, Mother had prepared enough food for an army, and Larry was coming home for a visit. The Durrell family picnic on the Dorset coast should have been a relaxing, jolly affair. But with the Durrells things are seldom straightforward and on this occasion all that could go wrong did go wrong – except Gerald Durrell's sense of humour in recounting the tale.
Eredeti megjelenés éve: 1979
Szokásos jópofa Durrell történetek, még Ursula is van benne, aminek külön örültem. Aztán jött az utolsó… Nem gondoltam, hogy GD rémtörténetet is tud írni, de nagyon jól sikerült, hatásos volt és nem túl kiszámítható.
“Larry, dear, the Purser is a very busy man, so don’t let’s keep him,” said Mother hastily. “I’ll just have a boiled egg.”
“Thank you,” replied the Purser with dignity and he bowed and disappeared into the kitchen.
“I would have settled for raw tomatoes if I’d been you,” said Larry. “You saw what they did with the grilled tomatoes. I dread to think what they are going to do with the boiled eggs.”
“Nonsense, Larry,” answered Mother. “There isn’t anything they can do to spoil a boiled egg.”
She was wrong. When the eggs arrived (two of them, which were put before her ten minutes later), not only were they hard but they had been carefully deprived of their shells by loving but unwashed fingers.
“There!” exclaimed Larry. “What a treat? Cooked to a turn and covered with fingerprints that Sherlock Holmes would have found irresistible.”
Mother had to conceal these strange avian relics in her bag and then throw them overboard after breakfast when she was sure no one was looking, for, as she observed, we didn’t want to hurt anyone’s feelings.
When she returned, Mother offered effusive thanks to the Captain for his hospitality but said she thought she ought to be getting to bed as she had had rather a busy day. She’d actually spent the day wrapped in blankets in a rickety deck chair complaining about the cold wind and the choppy sea. So she made a graceful retreat and was escorted to her cabin by Leslie. By the time he returned, Margo, using all her undoubted charms, had persuaded the Captain that, although Viennese waltzes were all right as a toning-up exercise, no Greek ship worthy of its name (and certainly not one on her maiden voyage) could ignore the cultural inheritance of Greece as embodied in her national dances. The Captain was much struck by both Margo and the scheme and, before we had orientated ourselves to the idea, had taken control of Greece’s national heritage. He strode over to the septuagenarian band and demanded of them in loud tones what fine old cultural Greek tunes they knew. Tunes of the peasantry, of the people. Tunes that brought out both the wonders of Greece and the valour of her people, the poignancy of her history and the beauty of her architecture, the subtlety of her mythology, the sparkling brilliance that had led the world, tunes that would conjure up Plato, Socrates, the glory of Greeks past, present and future.
The violinist said they only knew one such tune and that was “Never on Sunday”.
The Captain came as near to having an apoplectic fit as anyone I’ve ever seen. With veins throbbing in his temple he turned, threw out his arms, and addressed the assembled company. Had anyone, he asked, rhetorically, ever heard of a Greek band that did not know a Greek tune?
“Ummm,” said the crowd, as crowds do when presented with something they don’t quite understand.
“I don’t want to know about poutanas,” snarled the Captain. “Is there no one on this ship who can play any real Greek songs?”
“Well,” said the Chief Officer, “there’s the electrician, Taki, he has a bouzouki — and I think one of the engineers has a guitar.”
“Bring them!” roared the Captain. “Bring everyone who can play Greek songs.”
“Suppose they all play,” said the Chief Officer, who was of a literal turn of mind. “Who’d run the ship?”
“Get them, idiot,” snarled the Captain, and with such vehemence that the Chief Officer blanched and faded away.
Having shown his authority, the Captain’s good humour returned. Beaming twinklingly, he returned to the table and ordered more drinks. Presently, from the bowels of the ship, struggled a motley gang, most of them half dressed, carrying between them three bouzoukis, a flute and two guitars. There was even a man with a harmonica. The Captain was delighted, but dismissed the man with the harmonica, to the poor man’s obvious chagrin.
“But, Captain,” he protested, “I play well.”
“It is not a Greek instrument,” said the Captain austerely. “It is Italian. Do you think that when we built the Acropolis we went around playing Italian instruments?”
“But I play well,” the man persisted. “I can play ‘Never on Sunday’.”
Luckily the Purser hurried him out of the night-cloob before his Captain could get at him.
The rest of the evening went splendidly, with only minor accidents to mar the general air of cultural jollification.
Leslie ricked his back while trying to leap in the air and slap his heels in the approved style during a strenuous Hosapiko, and Larry sprained his ankle by slipping on some melon pips that somebody had thoughtfully deposited on the dance floor. The same, but more painful, fate overtook the barman who, endeavouring to dance with what he thought was a glass of water on his head, slipped and crashed backwards. The glass tipped over his face. Unfortunately it did not contain water but ouzo — a liquid similar in appearance but more virulent in effect when splashed in your eyes. His sight was saved by the presence of mind of the Purser who seized a siphon of soda and directed into each eye of the unfortunate barman, a jet of such strength that it almost undid its therapeutic work by blowing out his eyeballs. He was led off to his cabin, moaning, and the dance continued. The dance went on until dawn, when, like a candle, it dwindled and flickered and went out. We crept tiredly to our beds as the sky was turning from opal to blue and the sea was striped with scarves of mist.
The Chief Officer stood by the winch round which the anchor chain was coiled like a strange rusty necklace, and near hint stood at least three of the sailors who had made up last night’s band. They all waved and blew kisses to Margo.
“Margo, dear I do wish you wouldn’t be so familiar with those sailors,” complained Mother.
“Oh, Mother, don’t be so old-fashioned,” said Margo, blowing lavish kisses back. “After all, I’ve got an ex-husband and two children.”
“It’s by blowing kisses at strange sailors that you get ex-husbands and children,” remarked Mother, grimly.
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