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Friday, 5 November 2010

Masked Ball

Blogging and the countless forums on the net are rather like a masked ball, aren’t they? People strike up conversations with others anywhere in the world and some conversations lead to removing the masks, while others are merely brief exchanges with someone appearing behind a mask of anonymity or the persona they choose to portray.

It strikes me often that everything in life appears more and more like dance in which we sometimes sit a day, a month, a year, a decade out, then return to the dance with greater gusto but it never really dawned on me before how much of life is like a masked ball. People appear in different places at different times with different masks – sometimes they have their ‘work mask’ on, sometimes their ‘weekend mask’ or their ‘father/mother/sister/brother/friend’ mask on. I used to think the world would be so much happier if everyone just spoke their minds and we were all mask-free all the time, but life doesn’t seem to work like that and perhaps part of being alive is the fun of playing the masked ball, the masquerade. And if we’re going to dance, we might as well dance with gusto, like the dancers in the wonderful Hillaire Belloc poem, “Tarantella”:

“Do you remember an Inn,
Do you remember an Inn?
And the tedding and the spreading
Of the straw for a bedding,
And the fleas that tease in the High Pyrenees,
And the wine that tasted of tar?
And the cheers and the jeers of the young muleteers
(Under the vine of the dark veranda)?
Do you remember an Inn, Miranda,
Do you remember an Inn?
And the cheers and the jeers of the young muleteers
Who hadn't got a penny,
And who weren't paying any,
And the hammer at the doors and the din?
And the hip! hop! hap!
Of the clap
Of the hands to the swirl and the twirl
Of the girl gone chancing,
Backing and advancing,
Snapping of the clapper to the spin
Out and in--
And the ting, tong, tang of the guitar!
Do you remember an Inn,
Do you remember an Inn?

Never more;
Never more.
Only the high peaks hoar;
And Aragon a torrent at the door.
No sound
In the walls of the halls where falls
The tread
Of the feet of the dead to the ground,
No sound:
But the boom
Of the far waterfall like doom.”

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