From the left a large magenta blob comes wobbling across the field of view. The upper part is swollen and barely able to contain its fullness, while below it trails nebulously away into a long trail of misty red particles. Soon, however, two bright orange discs, close together and following parallel trajectories speed into view and head directly across the path of the blob. A collision is unavoidable, and when the impact occurs the orange discs sink deeply into the blob and seem about to pass right through to continue their course beyond. But the greater mass of the blob slows their progress, bringing them to a halt barely half-way across. Captive to its greater momentum, they now yield all independent movement and join the blob in its stately progress to the right.
This however, is a minor incident in comparison to the larger threat that now challenges the blob. For behind it there appears a fast moving wave of emerald green, the trailing wake of an even larger blob which, unable any longer to contain its huge mass spills over from above and engulfs the magenta blob in a great wave. For a few moments the entire field is green, and then: Blip! From deep within its emerald centre the magenta blob re-emerges, and: Blip! Blip! Its two orange eyes appear.
Light shows of this kind are the latest thing, and in every available corner enthusiasts set up their screens and drip their coloured blobs onto slides held in the beam of a projector. The medium is evolving fast as they vie with each other to produce different effects and like alchemists guard their techniques closely. The venue is dimly lit but for the splurging colours from the light shows; and the air is perfumed by clusters of incense sticks which project smouldering from every cranny, sending their smoke to drift in languorous clouds across the flashing projector beams.
Upon the podium a black-clad figure leaps, its bowler-hat aflame with candles perched around the rim. An amplified voice thunders out across the concourse, and a demon drummer wildly flails his sticks. The figure whirls around and round the candles spinning a wheel of fire as if, shape shifting, it has stepped from another and crazier world.
A silk top-hat projects like a chimneypot above the sea of mop-headed hippies, bobbing around on the head of a lone dancer in full evening-dress. Complete with silver-topped cane he dances a solitary jig, as if unaware of the rebel costumes of his compatriots. Foxy girls with heavy mascara slink in the candlelit shadows, where sugar-cubes receive their globule of nectar from the tip of a glass dropper, to be sucked like lemon-drops by hopeful trippers intent on adding spice to the night.
Tralee, her usually wild hair combed and piled high for the event, has dressed in black and stands regal as a duchess talking with Harry Flame. Harry has made no concessions to the carnival air, but wears his usual tatty raincoat and grubby collarless shirt. He is above and beyond such irrelevancies and is here merely to sniff the psychic atmosphere, and perhaps distil a potent line of poetry from some small but significant incident.
Skipio Hawkins; Impresario and host of these weekly revels flits here and there, his silver-lamé flowered jacket flashing as he goes about his thousand-and-one Saturday night scams.
The podium is hosting a succession of flamboyant groups, who each take the stage with their retinue of devout followers. For this is the breeding ground of future superstars, and from here they launch themselves like rockets high into the new musical firmament.
‘What time are we on?’ asks Dick.
‘Around four o’clock,’ says Smith. ‘Only when the dancers are completely exhausted will they be in a fit state to hear what we have for them.’
‘Right,’ says Dick. ‘And then we blast them with the jungle stuff.’
‘Don’t be too sure,’ says Smith. ‘That’s only plan “B”. Plan “A” is whatever happens when we get up there.’
Moonjelly waits and bides its time. The energy is still too high and the atmosphere taut with an expectation which they will not even attempt to fulfil. Moonjelly is something else altogether.
Much later, Smith goes looking for Zen and Dick. Their moment is fast approaching and the dancers are working themselves up into a final frenzy. The podium is now bathed in a ruddy glow from a bank of rosy-hued spotlights, while the latest avant-guard of psychedelic rock-groups reflect this colour and cavort, strutting like pink flamingos amidst a maelstrom of electronic guitars.
‘Get ready,’ says Smith, having found Dick and Zen. ‘This is their last number and we’re on next.’
The dancers, now utterly exhausted, are dropping like flies to the floor and seem, to Smith’s eye, to be about ready for an earful of Moonjelly.
Zen sets up a simple mid-tempo beat:
He closes his eyes and is off, drifting away into his own rhythmic self-hypnosis until oblivious to anything else at all.
Dick raises his trombone and lets forth a terrible roar; then, as if not satisfied with this he unleashes a torrent of roars and fearsome growls.
Smith is already squawking away in his highest register. Up here above the clouds he dips and soars, sending his harsh call out over the recumbent figures that litter the floor before them. Ten minutes of this and Dick, not one to hide his feelings looks fed up. He walks across the podium and speaks into Smith’s ear.
‘I’m going to put a bit of elephant in,’ he says truculently, as if daring Smith to object.
‘Brilliant,’ says Smith, much heartened by his new friend’s genius. Dick starts screeching in his upper harmonics before descending into a trumpeting bellow, which, were the space not confined, could have been heard as far afield as Farringdon or Charing Cross. Smith however, sticks to his seagull and flies now above a bleak foreshore where craggy rocks sit in white necklaces of broken sea, as his forlorn avian song comes echoing from the bell of his tenor-saxophone.
When Moonjelly has blown itself out Dick puts away his trombone and makes off. Smith is about to leave the podium himself, when he notices that Zen, eyes still shut, continues to beat out his...
Smith taps him on his shoulder and Zen, from deep within his bongo nirvana opens startled eyes.
‘What’s happening?’ he asks.
‘We’ve finished,’ says Smith.