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Discussion in 'Book club' started by In_You_Go_Jones, Jan 3, 2011.
Duw Mainwaring bach! He's right. The girls will treat you like the fellow who broke the bank at Montecarlo!
You'll hear them sigh and wish to die,
You'll see them wink the other eye
At the man who made such fools of Gene and Henry.
Then you can smile self-deprecatingly, like, and murmur 'Dear ladies, 'twas no big deal as Nature had already done three quarters of the job before I ever took a hand.
Oh dear, it would appear that the bard has succumbed to Psittacosis. That'll teach the fellow not to dabble in aviculture.
Indeed Gene is something of a Polly math. But it is unkind of you, Henry, to peck the hand that feeds you.
8. Dempsey Barracks, Sennelager.
7. Schloss Neuhaus, Paderborn
All good, clean, teutonic fun, but I think it's time for us to return this thread to its original, serious literary purpose. My published oeuvre is strictly biographical/ historical and I've never previously tried my hand at the novel form but I have to admit that Gene has inspired a latent muse and I can now reveal that I have been working on a sequel to Monsieur Hugo's The Hunchback of Nôtre Dame. Like my illustrious predecessor Mr Dickens (the latchet of whose shoes, etc...) I shall publish in episodic form.
Quasimodo was worried. He enjoyed his work and, indeed, anything at all to do with campanology and he was blissfully happy in his new life with Esmeralda, though, with the impending patter of tiny hunchbacks, their little apartment in the bell tower high above the Ile de la Cité was certainly going to feel a bit cramped. What worried him most was the thought that the even tenor of their life (even when worried Quasimodo relished a pun) might be disturbed by prying visitors or, even worse, the paparazzi.
It had all started with the novel. And it had, of course been just that, a novel. Quasimodo often smiled to himself when he thought of that tragic, and entirely fictional ending with him and Esmeralda embracing in their common grave. Then there had been the film of the book, starring Mr. Laughton, whose Hollywood good looks, Quasimodo humbly believed, had been too conventionally handsome for the role. Then there had been the book of the film for those readers who couldn't read French or, if they could, would certainly have struggled with M. Hugo's polysyllables and gothic flights of fancy. Then the radio and TV interviews and the articles in the glossy illustrated magazines (Quasimodo always insisted on being photographed on his good side) such as ‘Allo', ‘Elle', and, of course, ‘Bell'.
6. Hermann the German - Ostwestfalen-Lippe, Teutoburg Forest
I like it.
Yes, it's a splendid monument in delightful wooded grounds.
Suddenly, from being an obscure functionary, the bell-ringer found himself the most famous hunchback in Paris...in France...in the whole world. And, truth to tell, he was surprised to discover that he enjoyed it. People made pilgrimages to see him at work, not only from all over France but from every conceivable country on the face of the earth.
As I've already mentioned the only drawback to all this adulation was the lack of room to swing a cat. Not that Quasimodo literally wanted to swing a cat. Having himself suffered a great deal of unkindness in his earlier life he was always extremely tender towards the underdogs, and indeed, undercats of this world. In point of fact, he and Esmeralda had a much-loved ginger tom called Robert le Majeur, who had his own tale (and indeed tail) though he doesn't come into the present story. No, Quasimodo didn't want to swing a cat, but as the Cathedral's senior campanologist he most emphatically did need room to swing a bell, and a very large bell at that.
5. Bergen-Hohne military Training area, Soltau-Falingbostel/Celle
The bell in question was Emmanuel Le Grand Bourdon de Nôtre Dame, greatest of the Cathedral's mighty peal, weighing all of thirteen tons. Naturally, Quasimodo was a passed master of the art of change ringing with the usual apparatus of ropes and sliders, but his particular party piece was to ring his beloved Emmanuel using only the strength of his mighty arms.
All of which brings us to the tragic incident of Gene, the original American in Paris.
4. Rhedaer Forest, Rheda-Wiedenbruck, Gutersloh
It was a bright, sunny Spring day with the plane trees along the rive of the Seine bursting into joyous leaf. The bell chamber was full of visitors all eager to see Quasimodo perform and he was determined not to disappoint them. He flexed his bulging biceps, grasped the great bell's knurled bronze edge and applied his gargantuan strength. For a moment Emmanuel's enormous dead weight continued to hang plumb, then centimetre by centimetre he swung on his axis until he was balanced at a forty-five degree angle, sustained only by the hunchback's straining sinews. Then suddenly Quasimodo leapt crabwise clear as the great bell swung back to the perpendicular with a deep, sepulchral, BOOOM!
3. Baden Baden, Baden Wurtternberg, Karlsruhe
It was an amazing feat and the assembled crowd of tourists burst into spontaneous applause. But one young American, Eugene Vincent from Uxbridge, California, had watched the bell-ringer's virtuoso performance with particular fascination and as Quasimodo signed his autograph book with the practised flourish of the celebrity campanologist Gene whispered in awed tones:
‘Gee, Mr. Modo, I'd just lurve to do that. Do you think I could?'
‘I very much doubt it. It's extremely dangerous. How do you think the non-photogenic side of my face got to be like this?'
‘Aw gee, Mr. Modo, I carry a stack of insurance. Just let me have a go!'
‘Very well, but on your head be it. Literally, I rather fear.'
River An der Grimke, Sennelager, Nordrhein-Westfalen
2. River An der Grimke, Sennelager, Nordrhein-Westfalen
and the last will be revealed after I have attended to the animals.
To cut a lengthening story short, young Gene did indeed try to replicate Quasimodo's extraordinary feat but unfortunately he failed to leap clear quickly enough. To the horror and dismay of all present the edge of the great bell struck him a thirteen ton hammer blow and he flew straight out between the louvres of the bell chamber and fell a hundred feet to the cobblestones below.