She had joined the Eleven when she was eleven. She had been invited into the carnival club when she was four – she danced so well.
He had been born in Bigtown, but brought up by relatives on the other side of the planet. He was here on holiday.
She was the youngest ever member of the Eleven and the only female member in the history of the Four Crosses Carnival Club. She was the Boff, responsible for order, she had never been a Water Carrier.
He had been invited because his parents had been very active in the carnival club, until they died in a car crash when he was two years old.
In the morning was the Morning and in the evening was the Evening, the day before Ash Wednesday. The Morning was the Carnival Procession, all the carnival clubs took part, it was a huge event, the biggest in the country, all on TV.
The Carnival Princess and Prince were enthroned on float number eleven and thought that they were the stars of the show. She was dancing on float number nine, and was the star of the show.
The Evening was the Four Crosses Carnival Club Ball. The Eleven sat at the back of the stage, most of them: the President, the Master of Ceremonies (MC), the Treasurer, the Dance Master, the Music Director, the Conductor of the Orchestra, the Choir Leader, the Media Magister, the Lord of Laughter, the First Water Carrier, the Second Water Carrier, the Eleventh Water Carrier and of course, the Boff.
But you counted thirteen; the President was normally the MC and the Music Director the Conductor of the band. Very important, each wore a very elaborate hat embroidered with the four crosses, and don't forget the little bells.
The floor was filled with long tables. The outer tables were occupied by the members in colourful clothing – fancy dress. The inner tables were reserved for the dross – politicians, rich people, famous people, celebs, the Carnival Princess and Prince – anybody who had to be seen on TV and who had too much money.
Why were they named the dross? Because they were not very nice and because there are so many negative words in the English language beginning with D.
The first hour was a quick succession of loud singing, fast dancing and simple jokes. There was also mass singing with linked arms, dancing and the song words on the large screen. This was the warming up session for the very important two hours on live TV.
She opened the TV part of the evening with a solo dance; much jumping, pirouetting, cartwheeling and splits at high speed; much applause.
A choir of clowns ran onto the stage and sang. One of them held out his hand, she jumped onto his hand and he carried her off the stage still standing on his hand.
After the clowns came The Pain In The Butt. The heavies pushed The Butt to the front of the stage, the man known as The Pain climbed into The Butt and told jokes, mostly about national politics. The Butt is a large barrel.
He did not understand much, he knew little about local politics and the language was difficult for him, local dialect more so.
The Orchestra played the Royal March and in marched the Carnival Princess and Prince and took their special places in the middle of the dross, good for the TV cameras.
Much singing, dancing and butt speaking – every act was introduced by the MC. The important members of the dross, including the Carnival Princess and Prince, were greeted by the MC and shown on TV.
She led the dance troop onto the stage for the last number – more singing and dancing. She was the star of the show and she knew it.
She remembered when she first joined the Eleven, the TV part was boring, too conventional, no political jokes, falling audiences. The problem was the public broadcasting corporation – they insisted on controlling everything – they had taken the fun out of it.
The Eleven arranged a meeting with the director of PUBCORP in January. The director gave a long boring speech and demanded money and more control.
She danced on the table and picked up the director and carried him outside and dumped him in a large recycling bin. She did not like him – no, definitely not.
PUBCORP cancelled the contract with the Four Crosses Carnival Club – relief at PUBCORP – long faces at the Four Crosses Carnival Club.
However the next day all the private TV companies wanted the two-hour show – lots of money – embarrassment at PUBCORP – happiness in every home in the country – exuberance at the Four Crosses Carnival Club – she knew that she had done the right thing.
After the MC had said goodbye to the TV audience everybody could unwind – many removed their masks or loosened their fancy dress costumes – it was time for everybody to sing and dance and drink.
It was early in the day, about twoish, time to bring everything to a close. The MC stood at the middle of the stage and called for the Boff. “Her Excellence the Boff to present herself immediately!” No one came. The MC repeated his command, but louder. The Orchestra played the march – dum dum da, dum dum da – and she marched onto the stage, stood to attention and saluted.
The MC ordered “Your Excellence the Boff, report! Have many young men been boffed? And been taken to the cool room?” She nodded. “How many have you boffed?” She stamped her foot three times on the stage – three crashes on the cymbals and drums. “And how many have your helpers boffed?”
She stamped her foot four times on the stage – four crashes on the cymbals and drums. The Boff's helpers stood at the back of the stage and bowed. They were the heavies, they wore special hats. “So, seven have been boffed, better luck next year.”
“And now for the Boff's special wish.” She closed her eyes, spun around a few times and pointed at him. The heavies ran off the stage and grabbed the young man and carried him back to her.
Everybody stood, the large screen showed the song words, everyone linked bodies and sang The Time Warp:
It's just a jump to the left. And then a step to the right. Put your hands on your hips. You bring your knees in tight. But it's the pelvic thrust That really drives you insane. Let's do the time-warp again. Let's do the time-warp again.
The solo singer sang I Am Sailing. She picked up the young man and marched off the stage and out the main doors and onto the Main Square. She was followed by the Eleven, the heavies, the Orchestra and everybody else.
I am sailing I am sailing Home again 'Cross the sea I am sailing, Stormy waters To be near you, To be free
It was a warm February night and she knew what to do with him.