Kahlila Gibran—-Steam Boogie Woogie
Have you ever asked someone a question then realised that you should have really worked out the answer yourself. This happened when we were putting Kahlila’s Steam Calliope back in The Shed after the Cleavage Preservation Group’s Garden Party. Piggy Smith had brought it back on his trailer and he and his mate Pongo Simmonite (yes, he is a relation) lifted it off. Once they had gone Kahlila told me to get ready to push and with a look of great concentration levitated it enough to let us slide it into the back of the workshop between the boiler and the little Tangye steam engine that drove her workshop.
Thinking back to the afternoon and her rousing performance of her Boogie Version of The DarkTown Strutters Ball I asked.”Where did you learn to play Boogie Woogie”
“New York 1937”
”Who taught you” I asked
“Pete Johnson and others, but mainly Pete”
“Pete Johnson used to play popular tunes in Boogie Woogie” I said” So you did a Pete Johnson with Darktown Strutters Boogie ?”
She nodded. I went to put the workshop kettle on for a brew but she stopped me “We’ll have coffee in the living room” she said ” We’ve both got clean clothes on for once” Which was true, most times when we were in the workshop we were black bright and not fit to go in her living quarters. We went up into her kitchen, removing our shoes at the door and she put water the percolator and heaped coffee into the drum and soon it was bubbling and steaming away. The fact that Kahlila preferred percolator to either Filter or Cafetiere was not due anything to do with the resulting coffee but the fact that waiting for a filter to drip or a Cafetiere to brew was so boring while a percolator was like a little steam engine and you could see the coffee bubbling through the glass bubble on top and judge when it was strong enough and strong enough was bloody strong to suit Kahlila.
When what appeared to be tar was bubbling through the glass bubble she switched it off and poured herself a beaker black and unsweetened. I settled on a mixture of 25% coffee and 75% hot milk and even that was on the strong side.
She lit one of those thin black cigarillos that Clint Eastwood favours in spaghetti Westerns.
“I got a taste for them when Mrs Persson and me were in Mexico with Pancho Villa” she said by way of explanation “ I like one when I’m drinking coffee”
I must admit I‘d never seen her smoking before.
“When you’re time travelling you can’t afford to have a tobacco habit for when you are in a period where women don’t smoke or even when nobody smokes”
We drank our coffee and she told me about the problems of Time Travel, how she could not go to New Zealand in the period when she was a child to make sure that she was not in the same place at the same time as herself of that time. It’s not that you can’t be in two places at once, more two of you can’t be in the same place at once. Similarly she can’t go back to exactly the same place and point in time because she would meet herself on the previous visit. You obviously need to be highly organised to be a Time Traveller.
I stood up to leave
“I play N’awlins Pianner as well as Boogie” she said “ Professor Longhair taught me and after he passed away Dr John took over”
She walked over to the piano and started playing Tipitina. It could have been Fess himself playing. Part way through the style changed.
“ Dr John’s version” she said over her shoulder.
Walking down the field on my way home I pondered on the Contrapuntal Syncopation I had just heard. Kahlila Gibran was even an more remarkable person than I even I had believed.
Now I can’t play you Kahlila’s version of Tipitina but if you click :——-
What you will be as near as dammit what she sounded like