I: Southern France. Over 10,000 years ago.
II: Babylon. Approximately 3,500 years ago.
These two women actually existed, as evidenced by an Akkadian clay tablet containing a letter from Sirum to her childhood friend Elmeshum, demanding the promised replacement for her abarahhu cane. Simánu, the third month. Shamash, Marduk, Ninsûna and Raman (also called Adad) are all deities.
III Han China. Approximately 60 A.D.
The Season of the Phoenix is summer. The White Tiger symbolizes Autumn, and the western quadrant of the sky. The Tiger gives its name to one of the twelve years which make up a complete Chinese Astrological cycle. The last year of the tiger was 1998. The moon: The God of Marriage, associated with the moon, was said to link those destined to marry with an invisible red thread.
IV Paris 1155 A.D.
The church described is that of the Abbey of Saint Denis, dedicated by its builder Abbot Suger in the mid 1140’s. Lendit: An important fair usually associated with a Cathedral. One was held at Saint Denis only three days after its consecration. Queen Eleanor: Eleanor of Aquitaine. A celebrated beauty, and the greatest heiress in France. She was married to Louis VII at the time of the consecration, and was present at the ceremony, but in 1152 she married the English King Henry II. There’s a poem in the Carmina Burana, in mediæval German, in which the anonymous writer longs to have the ‘Chünigen von Engellant’ (The Queen of England) lying in his arms. Stettit puella etc: This macaronic Latin/German couplet is also found in the Carmina Burana, and means: A girl stood by the branch of a tree, And wrote her love upon a leaf.
V: Mexico in the 1530s, following the fall of Tenochtitlan in 1520.
Yo no naci sino para quereros ( I was born only to love you.): A quotation from the Spanish poet Garcilaso de la Vega. Huexotzinco: A city in the Puebla Valley which hosted a ‘Dialogue of poets.’ It was traditionally hostile to the Aztecs; but perhaps the poets themselves were neutral! Tacayehuatzin: The King of Huexotzinco, and host to the ‘Dialogue of Poets.’ Azt-lan, Old Woman, White Cloud Serpent: From the Aztec Creation Myth. Amaxac. City to which many Aztecs retreated after the fall of the capital Tenochtitlan. Anahuac: (Surrounded by water) The name refers both to Tenochtitlan itself, and the Aztec Mexican realm in general.
VI: Nineteenth Century Ireland and England.
King George IV visited Ireland in 1821. In the same year there was a failure of the potato crop. In 1822 fever followed on the heels of famine, in western Ireland. According to family tradition my great-great grandfather (on my father’s side) came from Cork. We don’t know names or dates, but he’s supposed to have walked from Manchester to London, using a stick still in my father’s possession. He did indeed live in Rose Court, Elephant and Castle, under the shadow of Spurgeon’s tabernacle, working as an instrument-maker; and it was there that my great-grandfather played the prank involving the cat. The subsequent punishment was inflicted, not for the trick itself, because the cat was easily restored to normal pussyfooting; nor for alarming the old lady, because this was seen as excusable boyishness; but for stealing his father’s glue, which was too precious a commodity to be lightly filched. The tale was handed down, father to son, and this is all we know of that side of the family. Rose Court and environs no longer exist.
VII: A contemporary supermarket.