We have already learned how one can guarantee a tea party free of monkey divertisements by the simple expedient of dangling, on the end of a length of string suspended from the ceiling over the centre of the tea table, a large sugarlump. And we have seen that this tactic has the additional advantage of preventing the guests from putting their brains in their pockets.
But let us say we are contrary sorts who wish, at tea parties, to encourage both monkey divertisements and the placing of brains in pockets. Is it sufficient, in such a case, merely to snip the dangling string, with a pair of scissors, and to chuck the piece to which the gargantuan sugarlump is attached into a waste bin, or to secrete it in a drawer?
Would that it were so straightforward! Alas, at tea parties as in life, there is a freight of woe before we may bask unburdened in Elysium (cf. Grimes). By all means remove the string and the sugarlump, but do not expect at once to find monkeys cavorting around the tea table, nor your guests to pluck their brains out of their skulls and place them in their pockets. More needs to be done.
First, you are advised to hire the services of a monkey feng shui consultant. I hasten to add that this is a person who has expertise in feng shui for monkeys, not a monkey who knows about feng shui. Several poor raddled souls of my acquaintance have plumped for the latter, and in due course lost the shirts off their backs, and a lot more. A generation ago, punks used to parrot the line “Never trust a hippy”, and, echoing them, one could well add “Nor a monkey who claims credentials in the ancient Chinese system of aesthetics believed to use the laws of Heaven and Earth to improve one’s life by receiving positive qi”. Certainly that is a mantra some extremely astute ex-punk-persons recite daily (cf. Savage).
To attract monkeys to create divertisements among the cakes and tea-strainers at your tea party, you will have to create the right conditions for them, and this is where a qualified monkey feng shui consultant proves a boon. They tend to charge quite high fees, and rarely accept payment in nuts, so be warned that your tea party overheads will be steep. By “overheads” I do not mean the string affixed to the ceiling, because you have already deposited that in a bin or drawer, along with the massive sugarlump dangling from it.
Please, please, give the consultant free rein, no matter how abstruse or ridiculous a kerfuffle they kick up. Qi is volatile stuff, a bit like ectoplasm, and monkey qi particularly so. Clinics up and down the land are filled with persons who came a cropper thinking they could dismiss their monkey feng shui consultant half way through his or her shenanigans and finish off the job themselves. No, just let them get on with it. Your parlour will look like the wreck of the Hesperus by the time they have completed their work, and your wallet be empty, but monkeys of all sorts will beat a path to your door come teatime.
Persuading your guests to put their brains into their pockets is a task yet more challenging. In this case, there are, as far as I know, no consultants to consult. You must go it alone. Do not make the childish error of leaving, on the sideboard, a trepanning drill, and hoping for the best. I am sick and tired of explaining that boring a hole in the skull is utterly inadequate if one wishes for complete removal of the brain (cf. Felix). You will need a saw. Actually, unless you have top of the range disinfectant facilities, you will need as many saws as you have tea party guests. The last thing you want, as your guests sip tea poured from a majestic Delft teapot, ornamented with paintings of fat little Dutch shepherds and shepherdesses tending pigs, and monkeys jump and swing and shriek and otherwise provide divertisements, is to have a troop of inspectors from the neighbourhood skullsaw hygiene community support hub bashing the door down and halting the tea party on grounds of by-law infraction. And they will, they will, believe you me.
It pays to ensure that each guest is partnered by an intimate acquaintance, that is, a person whom they will trust to saw through the top of their skull in readiness for brain removal. If such pairings prove impossible in advance, you will need to devise some ice-breaking party games before everyone sits down to tea. Try playing Fumbling With Mother’s Brooch, Poke The Pin In The Sheet Of Cardboard, or Catholic Persecution, each of which is guaranteed to wholly obliterate shyness or social unease.
You also need to provide each guest with an overgarment, to be worn over their stylish tea party apparel. It is unlikely that any of them will attend already dressed in something with pockets of suitable size or lining. Study a scale model of a brain and compare it with the size of an average pocket and you will understand what I am saying. The nature of the pocket’s lining is equally important, and those of the overgarments you distribute among the guests ought to be of satin, or of a fabric equally rich and smooth. Remember the brain, in all its miraculous complexity, is but a fragile thing (cf. Finch) and while resting in the pocket must be cosseted.
It is wise to make some preparations for the replacement of the brains within the skulls at the end of the tea party. Here, I very much recommend that you first shoo the monkeys out of the way. To avoid any brain being plopped into the wrong skull, with untoward consequences, each one ought to be marked with a symbol, and an identical symbol imprinted on the forehead of the corresponding brain’s owner. You can use a magic marker for this. If you are not gifted with the ability to draw startling and memorable symbolic forms, the monkey feng shui consultant probably is, though they will charge extra for doing so. The symbols should also be marked upon the sawed-off portions of head, for obvious reasons. To guard against future dislodgement, once the brains are back within the crania and the tops of the skulls are resting on the correct heads, use glue or some sort of industrial welding equipment to fix them firmly in place.
As soon as the last guest has waved goodbye from the porch, you may wish to retrieve the string with its gigantic sugarlump appendage, and hang it once again from the ceiling. This will keep those monkeys at bay, so you can have a well-earned nap.
Next week, we will look in more detail at the fat little Dutch shepherds and shepherdesses, and the pigs they tend, both as teapot decoration and in brute reality.