And I saw another angel
Fly in the midst of heaven
– Revelation 14:6
I took the Tube to the Blue Coat, on 3rd and Bloomberg. Got out at the station. Flakes of snow in the street. A white Babylon. Not too cold. No fog. I arrived a little after 9:00 PM. The place is a fixture of Babylon. Probably built the city around it. Plays Jazz, Blues. Oldies and newies. Appeals to all the intellectual twice a week shrink patients. And music lovers… Place was already half full, nice body warmth significantly improving the inside temperature. A pleasant contrast to the temperature outside. I dropped my various layers of clothing at the vestiaire. Looked around for a not too crowded table. Found one in a corner.
Crowd was about fifty-fifty black and white plus change. Though as to tell for sure, the light was very low, as befits a Jazz joint. In the old days, before the New Prohibition (on tobacco), there would have been more fog inside than outside. Now that Babylonians have decided that the world has to be healthy (go smoke our Babylon-made cigarettes elsewhere. Like, in the third world?) the atmosphere was clear. A couple, or rather a triad (trio?) of Chinese Babylonian girls were partying in the opposite corner. Cute. Ironed out black hair. Blue highlights. One blonde. Nicely made-up black eyes. Long boots, short black dress or shorts. Hot pants in that weather? Chinese girls (sorry: women) have adapted perfectly to the Babylonian Way. Bold, aggressive, driven, somewhat liberal. I sometimes wonder how they handle their parents or grand-parents coming all the way from Asia with definitely stricter views on tradition. Not that I mind or care: I’m colour-blind. Literally. As was usual, blacks tended to sit on one end of the room, whites on the other. Very little mixing. The odd white dots in a black group and vice-versa.
I asked the waitress for a beer. Have to maintain the Irish-Brit tradition! Got a copy of the program(me). Bands scheduled tonight were confirmed. And… thank God for small favours, tonight was Blue Night. Not Jazz, just Blues. Though the roots of both are equally black and African, I prefer Blues over Jazz. Lack of knowledge I’m sure, but I get easily lost in Jazz. Endless variations of a single tune… Blues is more straightforward, and, most important: it has a rhythm I can relate to. My African roots? Probably. When I listen to the Blues, I find myself starting to move to the rhythm. Shaking my head up and down. Though it is very different from South or East African music, it reminds of the green hills of my childhood. The Rift Valley, not Cork County. If I don’t watch myself I start moving my entire upper body forward and backward. And I may go: “Han! Han!” like the Zulus (Watch yourself Pete! You’re in Babylon now).
The band was good. Singer and lead guitar was an old wizzled black gentleman in his late seventies. Wrote his name down for Mary-Sue’s benefit tomorrow. Drummer was white, all the others, various shades of black. They played classics: John Lee Hooker, Muddy Waters. B.B.King. I sat back and enjoyed the music. They played “Rock me baby, rock me all night long”. Blues is the root of Rock’n Roll and thus all modern music. According to some, “Rock and roll” was a play on words. If you substitute the word “rock” by another five-letter word, “F.ck”, most songs take on an entirely different meaning. Try it on “Rock me Baby, rock me all night long”! A lot of Blues songs played openly by the blacks for the whites to listen, had a lot of double entendre.
The band played “Dimples” by John Lee Hooker. (I was scribbling everything down on a piece of paper. I had to get a Clackberry or an XYZ-Phone). Then “Sweet little Angel” by BB King:
“I got a sweet little angel
“I love the way she spreads her wings
“I love the way she switch
“When she spreads her wings around me…”
Change switch for twitch and wings for legs and you get a totally different ball-game! Or maybe it’s just my dirty mind? Regardless, I laughed to myself. One the Chinese girls laughed too, a mighty laugh. She caught my eye. Smiled. I smiled back. She had blue eyes. Or blue contacts? Go back to the music, Pete. You’re a journalist, you have serious work to do. I closed my eyes. To listen to each instrument. An old trick Rory taught me: “When I go to a concert M’Boy (classical of course) I close ‘me’ eyes (Friar Tucking) to listen to each and every instrument”. So I did. I’m not much of a musician. I took up the guitar for a while, when I went back for a short span to Africa. Never really got past a, c, d and e, much to the delight of my African friends. Damn buggers could weave instant music out of a couple of beer bottles and a matchbox. I dropped the guitar! Now, anybody interested, click on or copy the following link: Sweet little angels, by B.B.King, and minor players such as Jeff Beck, and Eric Clapton to name a few!
I spent the next hour closing my eyes to the music and opening them to the Chinese girl. She left early. Dropped me a folded note on my table. Her cell phone number. “CALL ME. NANCY LIU”. Nancy? I wondered what her grand-mother would say about her Babylonian first name. I refolded the note and put it in my pocket. One never knows, does one?
The band finished with a frenzy of guitars and drums. Lots of applause. A few German tourists were banging on their table, German clapping style. The manager of The Blue Coat came to the mike:
“Good evening folks. I hope you’ve enjoyed the music.”
“Unfortunately, we’re gonna have to close down…”
“Sorry about that folks, we’ve just heard a fog warning on the media. The fog is rising rapidly all across this part of town. The subway obviously is not affected, but those of you who came by car might find it a bit hard and dangerous to go back home. No need to panic, it’s still manageable. With caution. But we prefer to close down and let everybody go home safely. Y’all have a good nahght!”
The crowd mumbled as crowds do. Everybody paid their tab, nobody tried to skip. Babylonians are very disciplined. We queued to the vestiaire. I got my layers back on. Shuffled outside. What a sight! Babylon in white and grey. Dark coats pouring out of the Blue Coat. White on the ground and in the air. White flakes snowing hard. Grey fog about a foot high weaving around the white cars.
People coming out of the Blue Coat started to cough. The fog felt acid on my face. Maybe it was just the burning sensation of cold. Yet… I waddled as fast as I could on the snow-capped sidewalks to the station. Took the Tube home. Finished Mary-Sue’s Blue Coat piece, to save her some time tomorrow and went to bed thinking about unlikely temperature differences between fog and snow.
Praise God, Creator of the skies and earth,
He who uses the angels with two,
Three or four pairs of wings as messengers.
– Quran 35 – 01
“So? What have you got?”
“I think he’s biting.”
“How can you be so sure?”
“First, he was puzzled by the Fog…”
“That’s good. What else?”
“He saw the Old Man. Woke him up.”
“Good, again. What more do you have?”
“He’s talked at length with Rory about weather modeling. His computer programs had not predicted fog the day before, and he was very surprised when he saw the Fog as he walked out in the street. Same thing tonight: models said ‘no fog tonight, he predicted ‘no fog’ and we know what happened later on at the Blue Coat. Hopefully he should put two and two together.”
“How do you know about his computer programs?”
“I can hack into any computer in this town. Piece of cake!” (Smile)
“I’m sure you can. Even Rory’s?” (Smile, too)
“Rory could be sitting at his computers with all his security checks, firewalls and flags? He wouldn’t even feel the breeze!” (Big smile)
“Okay. What happened at the Blue Coat?”
“I saw him come out. He noticed people were coughing. Frowned.”
“Good. Let’s hope he picks on quick. We don’t have much time.”
“You want me to press for contact? See if he takes the bait?”
“No. Not yet. Let’s see how quickly he understands. But keep me posted.”
“They say ‘apprised’ now.”
“They say ‘keep me apprised of the situation’. I’ve seen it on TV.” (Smile)
(A small laugh) “Just keep me posted, will you?”
To be continued…
Next on Foglines: Fog, snow and tags…
Text © BMO and Equinoxio
A note on illustrations: I sometimes work on photos found on the Internet, Photoshop and all that. The result is very different from the original. I consider it a re-creation. But, at the time I wrote Foglines I didn’t think (how careless of me) to write down the names of the authors, who sometimes are not even mentioned. Anyone feeling that his o her rightful copyright has been… infringed, stomped on or otherwise ignored, do let me know. And we’ll set the record straight. 🙂
And… The B.B.King performance is posted on Youtube. If they can do it, Ah B’bleev Ah can!