Decadence is ever en train, chez moi. The other day, a day otherwise untroubled by anything more strenuous than a romp through the thesaurus, I went outside and discovered something foul and rank. (Please, if you are of a sensitive disposition, consider that your final warning.) The drain that leads to the septic tank was overflowing with feculent effluent (…try saying that sixty-two times after a stiff measure of Demerara rum). I was forced to phone the drain-unblockers (is there a one-word title for such pioneers?), who eventually turned up and dealt with the matter (taking most of it away in buckets). To add to the general air of excess and decay, I was charged £145 for the privilege of allowing my friendly local drain-unblocker to rid me of my unwanted gardenful of filth. I daresay a true decadent would have composed an elegy right there in the midst of this avalanche of overpriced shit, but I'm afraid words failed me just at that moment. (I did, however, manage to sluice the patio with disinfectant after the drain-unblocker had fled, clutching my big fat cheque in his mucky paws.)
I can only look to my betters to encapsulate the emotion that swelled through my quivering person in response to this unplanned diurnal upsurge of the night-soil that most properly belongs to the crepuscular churnings of the underworld.
Herewith, a song that I cannot hear without feeling it is essentially an exercise in extended sarcasm. Its title is 'O ravishing delight' (which is almost exactly what I exclaimed when I first laid eyes upon that ordure-ruined patio). The composer is Daniel Purcell, a relation of the more famous Henry of that ilk. The librettist, meanwhile, is William Congreve (it's from 'The Judgement of Paris', and it's the eponymous abductor of fit birds who sings this aria. Incidentally, I learn from Wikipedia
that Daniel P. won third prize with his version in a contest to judge the best setting of the masque).
Here are the lyrics - and very delightful they are too.
O Ravishing Delight!
What Mortal can support the Sight?
Alas! too weak is Human Brain,
So much Rapture to Sustain.
I faint, I fall! O take me hence,
Ere Ecstasie invades my aking Sense:
Help me, Hermes, or I dye,
Save me from Excess of Joy.
I cannot find on YouTube the recording I have here at home, in which one Ryland Angel makes mincemeat of those Baroque twiddles that are so beloved of the counter-tenor in full chirp. Instead, have Alfred Deller's rendition.
When the line about Hermes is reached, I can't help but mistake the word for 'Homies'. "Help me, Homies, or I die" - it could be a line from any gangsta rapper's violent soliloquy! It makes me to wonder what other Baroque gems might appeal to the modern-day purveyor of 'urban' music, looking to relieve his or her ennui with something fresh (or indeed, a retread of something so antique as to be freshly novel). Therefore, I propose a new musical genre: HIP-FOP
. You know what I'm saying: let's have that unutterable nightingale Iestyn Davies guesting as relief-vocalist on some edgy joint. (Maybe he can soothe the supplanted Beyoncé's jealousy afterwards by teaching her a spot of Handel.) And oh yes, let's rope in Andre 3000 (a dapper dan indeed) - he'd enjoy some eighteenth century costumes, I'm sure…
…No? You don't think this is a good idea? Oh. …I rather fear contemporary culture is not young Cosmé's strong point. Never mind - I'll drag my anachronautick corpse out of the spotlight, I think, and get on with a bit more scribbling. Now, where did I put that thesaurus…?