Day 31: Charleston

Agent Turner turned out not exactly to be Mister Conversation. As soon as me and Crispian got in the black limousine with its darkened out windows he did not say a word. Just played with his gun whilst I bickered with Crispian about how exactly he was going to pay me back for his blowing all of my money on a spacerocket and gin: not even for drinking. Occasionally Agent Turner would get a funny little flashing device out and point it at us and look generally unhappy with the results.

“Hey, perhaps we were hit with cosmic radiation when we traveled from the moon,” Crispian said, excited. “We might get superpowers.”
“Well it has not improved your intelligence,” I said. Though truth be told I was a little bit worried by his suggestion, what if I developed acute super hearing, and was able to hear any random Anastacia song being played on a pub jukebox six miles away. Gaining some sort of indestructible death ray out of my eyes might just compensate, oustaring Nick Cave with such eyes would be a pleasure, but in general the cons outweighed the pros.

As we moved on into West Virginia I finally got the courage up to ask Agent Turner where we were actually going.
“Ahryuhfiddyone,” he said, with an accent which was uncomforfortably close to Johnny Cash’s (may his back-catalogue remain in peace).
It sounded like some sort of old native American town name, so I let it pass. However Crispian went as white as a Boy George’s foundation. After another hour of driving we stopped in Charleston for a toilet break, and while Turner wa sout of the car, Crispian told me the source of his agitation.
“Area 51.”
“What’s Area 51.”
“Top secret base where they do all the alien testing.”
“Do you know the meaning of the words top secret.”
“That’s not the point, they are almost certainly going to dissect us and brainscrub us and and-”
“Could they destroy any memory I ever had of music?”
“Possibly,” Crispian said. “But it would also destroy you personality.”
Hmm, this was tempting, Nevertheless I saw his point, and more importantly saw a small neighbourhood bar out the corner of my eye. So we made a run for it in downtown Charleston, stopping off only for a brief G&T.

JAMES P.JOHNSTON – The Charleston

I was a miner, I was a docker, I was a flapper girl between the wars – so the rubbish Billy Bragg song would go if it was accurate. Of course this was before the standardisation of spelling, when the long f was still used instead of S, so it is clear what Flapper really meant. Not so much a dance as a collection of syncopated spasms, The Charleston spread the world making public displays of epilepsy fashionable. In reality the Charleston was a spin-off of some clever working class skivvie who managed to convince some young socialites that nothing is more fun that taking some pep powder and cleaning the windows. This proto-Mr Miyagi managed to get posh people to clean all sorts of vertical objects, before the girls realised it was almost as much fun doing it in nightclubs wearing lampshades.

The flapper girls, such as Clara Bow, were also referd to as It Girls. Now I don’t know about your school, but we used to run away with anyone with “It”. In primary school because that was the game, in secondary school because they probably had VD. Indeed it is more than possible that the spasmodic jerking of the Charleston was merely some awful physical side effect of such free living.

Luckily the Charleston died as a fashionable dance as all the forearms of the girls involved fell off. Apparently it is difficult, but not impossible, to unscrew your arms at the elbow. Also Jazz came along and people realised that you did not need stupid big band dance numbers to take cocaine to: introspective saxophone numbers would do just as well. Like all bad things it was resurrected briefly in the 1990’s as Doop. Doopid more like.