Kage Baker really enjoyed her last Dickens workshops. She was on her way to surgery, almost literally – she knew she wouldn’t be having a wildly energetic Dickens Fair, but she meant to attend. So we trucked on over to the school where the first weekends’ rehearsals are always held, and she got to spend her first ever workshops where she was guaranteed a place to sit down!
This is because she was in a wheelchair, in which contrivance she was a happy menace to all pedestrian traffic. In her favour, it must be pointed out that she was also an amiable package bin – carried everyone’s lunches and spare notebooks – as well as a perfect baby perch. In fact, she spent a good part of that weekend snuggling our newest crop of babies in the Guild (all girls that year) and giving them teeny little rides in her fascinating conveyance.
Also, singing them to sleep. Kage was a world champion at singing babies to sleep. Part of it was practice; she was cuddling babies from the age of 4 years old, which was when her legs were first long enough to hold a swaddled sibling. It’s rather surprising when you know that what she usually sang to babies were sea-chanties and pirate songs … not the romantic ones, like The Grey Funnel Line or The Dark-eyed Sailor. No, what Kage sang were things like The Eddystone Light and Go Down, Ye Blood Red Roses.
Babies loved those songs. Little eyes would glaze over and their lids shut like flower petals as she softly crooned “Oh, our boots and clothes is all in pawn …” in her beautiful alto. It was Emily and Willow that year – now Emily is a big sister to baby Jack, and Willow has embarked on a career as a perpetual motion machine, I believe. I don’t know if either one of them remembers the red-haired lady and the sea-songs, but they were the last in a long line of Faire babies to be snuggled and sung to by Kage.
This year, we have boys. Connor, born in early summer; Jack and Alexander, born a few days apart in September. Alexander (called Sasha) Kage Palladini, his Auntie Kage’s namesake: a red-haired little boy most devoutly prayed for and now ecstatically celebrated – she was waiting for him when she died, as his production was a project that involved a lot of people’s prayers and storming heaven. None of the new laddies will work Fair, being quite small; but all will visit. And when they do, I’ll sing to them.
I’ll pitch it as low as I can get, and softly, as Kage did. And we will see if another year’s crop of Fair babies can be lulled into sleep by the advice: Oh, one more pull and then we’re through – For we’re the boys to kick it through!
Oh, you pinks and posies! Go down, ye blood roses, go down!