Sunday, 15 November 2009
Sunday Night is... Yma Sumac and more corruption
Yma Sumac singing Tumpa. The Inca Princess. My parents - particularly my mother - adored her. It was the five octave range, the glamour and the sheer scale. I think she might been on Sunday Night at The London Palladium once. Perhaps it was something like this.
The corruption I was thinking of on Friday wasn't big in scale, in fact it would not be called corruption, not most times, not in some places. The giving of gifts and the accepting of gifts. The courtesy versus the bribe. The way we offer gifts not for some concrete favour but because we hope to please. And in pleasing to receive the favour of no more than a smile. Or trust. So we give flowers, or chocolates, or treat someone to dinner. And then we're friends aren't we? And things follow from friendship? And where is the stern spoilsport Puritan who is against friendship? You will, I hope, speak up for us at the meeting? Put our point of view? We are friends, after all. How do I look in this? You look great. Thank you, you are a true friend.
It is customary to slip the guide a tip. You should slip the doctor 500 ft in an envelope at the hospital. Or at least offer him a chicken. Or rather don't offer it, just bring it. There you are, I thought I'd bring this for you doctor. You can get past the guard for £100. You'll never do a deal here unless you offer a gift - that is the local custom. They do it all the time. They are very honourable and won't sign a contract, saying if you can't trust their word they won't do business with you. Let me offer you a drink / a ring / a car / drugs / an envelope with cash in it / an even bigger deal
You can claim for heating and for phone calls if they are business. Just call it a percentage. I am sure we can come to an agreement on this. Well, let's not examine it too closely. Payment in cash? Look, we both know the score but something has to be hammered out. Shall we? Go on then. I work for them even when I'm at home, they can afford a paper clip / a stapler / a litter bin, /a set of old files / a table lamp / a coffee maker / a drill / just one pair of shoes. How many pairs of shoes have I / you worn out for them?...
Small corners, small deals that blow up under the microscope into luxuriant growths. Or, in other circumstances, circumstances without microscopes, small deals that blow up into such luxuriant growths they are the forest in front of you, and that's just the forest. See that forest? It has always been a forest. It's right there. You can practically smell it. Good hunting in there, they say. Bit empty of trees beyond that fence. Why would anyone live there, exposed to the weather. This is forest life. The world is like a forest. You learn to move in it and it's just fine. We are simply forest dwellers, it suits us. Those corpses? Such things happen in forests. And you know what? There really are forests. Can you deny that is a forest? That's all it is, nothing more. Forest world.
We are an adaptable species: we can live on plains, on islands, in cities, in fields, in forests, in gutters. None of this is surprising. There are of course the corpses, the corpses to balance with the friendships, the offering of chickens, the kind words, the tiny calculations of favour and the demands of favour. One slips into the other.
Is that a party of politicians there at the edge of the fields? Who is that moving through the forest? Whose mansion is that? Whose corpse is that?