Because I Wanted Lasagna
When you have lived the life that I lived, you will understand me. It is not easy to live in a land filled with terror. I have seen armies utterly destroyed. I've seen homes burned to the ground, while families stood watching. In fact, I have watched the death throes of a nation.
Who has caused this havoc? I have. In my search for power, I have destroyed a nation.
Why have I done this? I merely wanted some lasagna. I have regretted it ever since. I don't even like lasagna! If I hadn't snuck into the royal palace to get some, I never would have overheard that conversation. If I had never heard that conversation, I never would have been tempted to pass the information on to the foreign government.
Now I know; the little things can change a land of peace into a pit of chaos. I only wish that I could change it back once more.
Choose your words more wisely than your gods
There’s a postscript to our holiday in Greece: a tragic one, I’m afraid. Although this memoir has concerned itself with my reflections on my father, a few passing references have been made to my sister, who, of course, was likewise grieving the loss of a parent.
My father had used a part of his redundancy money to buy Sis a horse. He was a thoroughbred, with the wonderful name Cadenza Fancy Pants - Fancy, for short - a handsome, sturdy fellow, bright-eyed, white-starred on his forehead, with a sheen on his chestnut coat that was electrifying to behold. My sister idolised him. In the months following Dad’s death, Fancy, I think, consoled her in a way that my mother was unable to do. I certainly couldn’t do it.
On our return from Crete, we were picked up from the airport by my uncle Colin; the same uncle who had imparted the news of my father’s death to me.
As we neared home, Sis became steadily more excited. She’d missed Fancy tremendously. Forget the unpacking: the first thing she was going to do, on getting home, was to run to the stable where she kept him, give him a good rub down, then take him for a ride.
A few hundred yards before we reached our destination, Uncle Colin abruptly pulled the car to one side. He turned his head around, looking grim-faced at my sister. He said, bluntly:
‘There’s no easy way to say this. A couple of nights ago, Fancy got out of the stable. He was running wild, stumbled…broke his leg. There was nothing that could be done. He had to be put down. I’m sorry.’
There was nothing more to be said. Turning round - no doubt tired of playing the part of Grim Reaper’s messenger - my uncle resumed the course of the journey. My mother was motionless in the front passenger seat. I sat in stunned silence, in the back, next to my sister. She too was silent, just for a moment. Then the howling began. She cried more bitterly, in those next five minutes, than I think she had ever done before: even on the day she woke to find Dad had passed away. This was a second sword piercing her soul. As long as she had her magnificent stallion, I think, she still had a part of our father with her. It had been his last great gift to her.
It was so fucking unfair.
Perfidious Poseidon, god of horses as well as oceans, had failed us. The Athenians had done well to cherish the goddess of wisdom before the capricious deity of the deeps.
Mum got my sister another horse. His name was Charlie. She loved him, of course.
He wasn’t Fancy.
How do you replace a beloved father? How do you replace the horse you adored, the noble steed who comforted you, who gave you solace, in your darkest days?
In their hearts our dreams they're keeping,
Ancient spirits long time sleeping,
On a bed of shifting river sand,
With their thoughts they shaped this land.
Here the black barked Swamp Gums grow,
Beside deep waters where they flow,
Sometimes turning back to pool,
Twisted mangrove roots they cool.
Through the shaded billabong,
Peals the swooping magpie's song,
Swiftly darting fish some shelter seek,
Safe from old man kookaburra's beak.
Onto a light dappled rocky ledge,
Out from the tangled rushes of sedge,
Watchful the blue-tongued lizard crawls,
While all around him cicadas call.
Leaving the red earth desert plains,
Where it hardly ever rains,
Troop the thirsty kangaroo,
Pads the panting warrigal too.
Out of the wind blowing thick with dust,
They come to drink as all here must,
Else among the salt-bush dry,
They leave their scattered bones to lie.