There’s a birthday party at the Residence (the Master’s multi-million pound house on the hill) and you’ve been invited. You, draw a red circle on the calendar, send your suit to the cleaners, go to town and buy a card and the best present you can afford. Then you wait for the big day.
Up at the big house, the menu is agreed, shopping list written, and the servants are sent to Harrods to buy the ingredients. The day before the party the tables and chairs are delivered to the main gate, under the watchful eye of karate experts. One day one of these delivery drivers may make a dash for the house and try and assassinate the Master.
The next morning, the day of the party, in the small house near the Residence gate, the briefing of the furniture carriers is coming to an end. They’ve not been told how to carry the furniture, ‘Lift with your legs together and your back straight’,
Rather, ’Do not diverge from the path to the garage. Do not look into the
Master’s house. If the Master or his family appear, do not approach them or speak to them. Do not stop and stare. Do not burst into song, throw yourself at his feet, burst noisily into tears, shout joyful Hindu chants out loud. Always behave in the manner of a prisoner under sentence of instant death should you displease, and everything should be fine. Just remember where you are and who you’re doing it for. Oh yes, and if you see anything ‘private’ you shouldn’t talk about it to your premie friends. Keep your mouths shut, or you’ll never work in this town again. Now get out there and surrender.’
The servants are locals. They work without pay, on their day off because they love their Master.
Much of the food has been prepared the day before. A line of expensive cars glistens in the driveway. The Mercedes 600, Rolls Royce, Ferraris, and Lamborghinis , have been moved out to make way for the tables and chairs. The Master entertains his guests in the garage.
Your invitation has instructions like a TV
adventure game, ‘Go to carpark on hill 3 miles from Residence, between 1.00 and 1.30. Wait for green shuttle bus to take you to Residence, where you will be escorted to holding area, prior to shipment to Divine Garage.’
The tension rises as you approach the carpark. There’s already a group of people dressed like wedding guests, clutching gift wrapped presents, crowded around a person with a clipboard, ticking off names. The minibus fills and drives up the hill. It stops outside the main gate, and the guests file into the yard in front of the small house. A karate expert tells them to wait quietly in the courtyard, and a guard will come and escort them to the garage. The courtyard is carefully screened from the main house and driveway, by a brown fence, about 2 metres high.
Two of the Master’s children call to each other from behind the fence. The group, including the karate expert, become silent. The children’s conversation drifts away towards the house. The karate expert smiles blissfully. The guests
let the moment wash over them. They are in the Master’s house. They have heard the voices of the Master’s children from behind the fence. They are going to a party in the Master’s garage. They are on a roller coaster ride to heaven.
The garage has been carpeted, the trestle tables are covered in paper cloths, and the buffet is laid out, under clingfilm. Two instructors stand ready to serve the punch. There are two dispensers, alcoholic, for the modern devotees, fruit only, for recovering alcoholics and those still on the long journey back from the Hindu austerities of the early 70s. Some of the Masters personal servants, like the Peter Sellers character in ‘Being There’, have been institutionalised for most of their lives. The alcoholic punch is a signal to the premies that ‘Things really are becoming normal in the Master’s world.’
You put your present on top of the pile by the garage door and enter the party. You sip alcoholic punch, munch a humous canape and look around for someone you know. Nobody
really cares about the food, drink or other guests. Everyone is quite clear why they are their. They want darshan. They want the physical presence of their Master because this is why the universe was created. So you could stand with a crowd of people, in the Master’s garage and maybe get a glimpse of him if he showed up at the party. There’s kind of ‘dosage level’ to darshan, in the same way drinks are classed by alcohol level. Half a pint of lager is a glimpse from a distance. Standing next to the Master for a minute or two is a couple of pints of Guiness. If he speaks to you personally, it’s a bottle of vintage champagne. It’s a pint of darshan everyone’s after, not a glass of punch. Everyone is pretending to be at a party. They’re in the garage to see their Master.
The Master’s wife and one of his daughters arrive. They both make an effort to make people feel welcome, speaking to people they know, trying to act normal while half the crowd appear to be staring rudely, but are actually ‘soaking up
secondary bliss’, transmitted via the Master’s family.
The Master’s other daughter is in her room, watching a video. She’s sick of being stared up by people she doesn’t know, with sickly, unhealthy smiles, like they know something she doesn’t. Well she knows something they don’t. They’re bloody idiots who get on her nerves. She’s not going to the stupid party..
A ripple goes through the party guests. The Master has arrived outside. Conversations wither, eyes are glued on the entrance. You can see suited karate experts standing in silent bliss, smiling, but you can’t see the Master. Everyone knows that you shouldn’t go rushing up to him at an informal event like this. Let him have space and walk around. But the crowd are edging towards the door. Ha, don’t they realise this is wrong.
The canapés, are left on the table, the crowd continues drifting towards the Master. Soon you are left alone, in the middle of the garage, doing the right thing but feeling like a prat. You wander outside with the rest of
the mob, who are now standing in a big crowd, gawking at him.
He’s talking about the next private jet he’d like, and what communication systems he wants on it. The crowd drinks his words like nectar. He stays, talking for a few minutes. Eventually you find a position at the back where you get an occasional glimpse and hear the odd fragment of a sentence. You are being taught a cosmic lesson about life here, but you haven’t quite figured it all out yet.
The Master stands up, speaks to one of two faces he recognises, then returns to his house. He’s tired but happy. He is still the Lord. The devotees drift back into the garage. They’ve lost their appetite, and anyway, the party’s probably over. Everyone is full of bliss, peace and understanding. People begin to leave.
You go home, desperately a devotee to tell you’ve been to a party at the residence, had a glass of punch, humus canapé and seen the Lord of the Universe.
Life doesn’t get any better than this.
Anth the Party Pooper.