Kage Baker told me, in that last bizarre, crowded week of her life, that she was grateful to be going before any more of her friends died. She hadn’t like reaching that age where friends and relations were moving on – while she appreciated the advice of the wise man (Thank you, Mr. Gillan) who told her, “This part of life demonstrates how we handle loss”, Kage did not, herself, intend to handle any more of it that she absolutely had to.
And Kage Baker had, as we all know, a whim of iron.
I wish I did. This year has been cruel hard on my surviving friends. There are a lot of them – you spend your adulthood with a thousand costumes performers, and the reunions are more like circuses than anybody else’s. But even so, the holes are beginning to show alarmingly. Some of our folks have begun a memorial list called The Sky Faire – where, as of this writing, the shows are amazing, the music kicks major ass, and the dancers outshine the falling stars.
And now another one has gone. That’s the second dancer in a month – the first was John Compton, a dancer with the legendary Hahbi ‘Ru Belly Dance Troupe. I only knew John from the distance of the audience, but he was one of the best. Now he dances with the immortals.
And now, the second: Martin Harris, a Morris dancer and exemplary Morris Fool. Martin’s time goes back to Agoura and Blackpoint, where he was a part of the magical youth of the Faire. He was that rarity, a real Englishman, and God! that man could caper, and bang a tambor on his knee like, as Charles Dickens said, a “real sylph …” Martin was also, for the last dozen years, Scrooge at the Dickens Christmas Fair in San Francisco. He has died on the very edge of Autumn becoming Winter, and only weeks from the start of rehearsals. We knew he was ill and an alternate had already been cast – but though that actor will, I am sure, be formidable, a lot of tear-blurred eyes are going to be seeing Martin ghosting beside him in the streets of our London.
“He wore the chains he forged in life,” wrote Dickens of Jacob Marley. So do we all; but may we all find them to be wrought of love as all our recent and honoured dead have done.
However, I have had enough. Every death is a blade in my heart, and there have been far too many deaths of late. As a group, we Faire people have just generally been ridden hard and put away wet – but we’re not that fragile, by th’Powers! Too many of us are dying, a lot of them younger than me – and I’m slowly mutating into an apple crone, so no-one younger than me has any right to die.
So stop it! Right now! No one gets to die this winter until after I do. And I have no intention of going, so you’re all condemned to immortality for the time being.
I mean it, now.