I well remember the day my wife and I visited a bar called The Misfireing Musket,
nestled on the banks of the River Boyne in Ireland.
I, being a prominent writer in the world of fictional adventure, moaned,
when in each alcoholic stop, would brag about my latest comedy,
Love at the Little Big Horn,
about a couple obsessed with General Custer and his death in the battle of the same name.
It was a military encounter described by historians as little more than a skirmish,
but portrayed by Hollywood in martial tones.
But am I much better than those ignorant movie moguls? I wondered.
with my almost industrial output of literary garbage?
While the wife chattered away, bothering the cook and asking for a prescription for her
delicious sausage and mash,
I reflected that the battle that took place just a stone’s throw from this little pub,
adorned with relics from the battlefield, has been hailed by some as a historical fact,
maybe even worthy of a Hollywood epic.
Then my eye caught a faded painting, supposedly several centuries old, depicting an interplanetary visitor,
with the caption: “A much maligned prophet, and a visitor we should have welcomed.”
Intrigued, I asked a fellow drinker about this: Professor James McDaddle,
having a beer dinner with BBC radio presenter Jeremiah Grapevine,
who had been invited there to launch his new radio feature, What Makes Us Human.
The answer intrigued me, ‘It refers to a woman from another universe, who came here in the middle of a battle.
The one that was fought between the Protestant Guillermo de Orange and his Catholic rival, King Jaime.
He laughed, ‘Apparently, even this famous interplanetary visitor couldn’t bring these two sides together,
and he was rebuffed by military chiefs who had power in a land whose motto is ‘One hundred thousand welcomes’.
‘We had to wait for that immoral President Bill Clinton to arrive!’
“Perhaps this otherworldly woman knew something about humanity and should have been welcomed.”
said a young woman who jumped up and introduced herself as Theresa Toogood,
wearing a badge proclaiming ‘Jesus saves’.
The professor asked for her opinion, only for us all to be treated to stories from the first century.
ancestors who fought against the roman invaders, in a bloody carnage that disfigured their beautiful land.
Until one, a kilted warrior woman named Mary Littleluv,
appeared out of the mist that swirled around the mountain known as Helvellyn.
The natives always said that he appeared out of nowhere,
but the autocratic bishops later claimed that they must have misheard,
and she came from the celestial domain of Heaven.
This fearsome woman encouraged the warlike Cumbrians to steer clear of the path of violence.
and she helped them in this goal by falling in love with an enemy, the centurion Marcus O’Reliuss.
Ancient scroll discovered in the Roman settlement of Hardknott
– supposedly written by this military leader – is said to have declared his wife to be ‘out of this world’.
Laughing at this story, Theresa said: ‘My mother always claimed
I looked like the drawings of the warrior woman, and as a child I was known as a strange girl.
After giving us this fragment of ancient history and cooling off with a glass of black beer,
which he had provided at the cost of a stern look from the wife, She implored us all,
‘He is born again in the arms of Jesus, and thus he will bring lasting peace to his afflicted land.’
This frank lady told us about her town of Muttleforce, in the English county of Cumbria.
But the lady, an inveterate atheist, scoffed at his claim that
humanity could only be defined if we were ‘born again’, in a Christian way of course.
Listening to all this was a guy named Timothy O’Farrell,
who joked that she didn’t fancy having a second birth.
Although he was very handsome, Tim didn’t half curse, but she put up with it, believing he was destined for fame.
After berating him for swearing, he laughed: “I was brought up by the Jesuits, who swore like soldiers.”
Later I took notes for my next story: ‘Interesting Characters – a lady who
professes a bond with a heathen warrior, and a young actor who I’m sure is destined for stardom.’
Learning that he was accompanying his acting partner to Hollywood,
I decided to keep an eye on them, somehow believing that our paths would cross.
Sure enough, after my return to that place of moving images,
where I, as a writer, was highly praised, I heard a familiar voice call out,
‘Repent and you will be saved, because in this fantasy town there is only one star: Jesus Christ.’
An in-the-know journalist yelled: ‘Your boyfriend is a future movie star!’
‘Yeah,’ he laughed, ‘but I’m working on it.’
It was her, that lady from Belfast lecturing next to a statue of Abraham Lincoln,
the president whom history records as liberating the enslaved.
I was wondering if there was a thread to these random events,
What led this lady and the handsome actor here, away from their English town?
My next glimpse of them was while researching a novel,
The cavalryman who lost his spursa sequel to Love at the Little Big Horn,
which led me to General Custer, a red neck bar in the US state of South Dakota,
where he was surrounded by arrows, rifles and fancy hair,
which, according to the tourist blurb, were from the Indian Wars.
History records that an actor in this wild west adventure did not follow the script.
– an Indian named Crazy Horse who overcame the pride of Custer’s 7th Cavalry,
in a battle over that sparkling stream called the Little Big Horn.
I was wondering how this little woman would cope with this noisy crowd,
but she quieted them with her most moving sermon, and they all applauded the little evangelist.
“That’s the best speech I’ve heard since I saw that president address Congress,” one veteran commented.
‘What was it called? Oh yes, Abraham Lincoln.
Then her boyfriend, actor O’Farrell, chimed in: “I was in that movie.”
‘What is your next role?’ The curious guy asked.
“I play a soldier in the US 7th Cavalry who follows an officer who led his men with reckless abandon.”
‘Oh, don’t you mean the one after this bar?’
“In fact, the film depicts him as a vainglorious fool,
unfit to be considered a ‘Great American Hero’ by the people of this state,
for he foolishly led his men into a huge Indian camp.
At this the drinkers turned nasty and drove us out of town in a handcart,
being rescued by an ethnoarchaeological expedition,
who had just discovered a cave painting depicting a legendary warrior woman,
known as the Savior of the Sioux.
Theresa was struck by the resemblance between this and those found in her native Cumbria,
and I noticed a marked resemblance to the picture I had seen in that pub by the River Boyne.
A year later I attended a movie premiere, May the Muttleforce be with you,
in which a heroine arrived on earth after an argument with Luke Skywalker,
who was apparently a ‘spoiled brat’.
Upon learning of this, the producers of a well-known film franchise,
the one of the wars between stars, threatened to take legal action.
Timothy O’Farrell, one of the actors in this independent film, made by Born Again productions,
he said, ‘I’ve seen enough of that in Hollywood, I mean the stars at war.’
He added that the film was financed by a cooperative bank called Save With Jesus.
Of course, the occasion would not have been complete without the presence
one of those two smart guys I met in that Irish bar, The Misfireing Musket.
Timothy joked: ‘We were going to call the movie What Makes Us Human,
but could not agree on a definition of it.’