WHAT YOU MISSED
Out of brightly coloured threads of narration and description Paul wove a dazzling tapestry of stories from the world of the Arabian Nights. Under the guidance of the old woman who looked after them, the orphans Masud and Miriam brought back the mysterious Bird from the land of Gibur to the Garden with the Fountain of Laughter and the Fountain of Tears, during which adventure it was the girl who saved the boy, and not vice versa – but after that, the bird just sat and watched the stars go by, until one day it said, “It is time!” and flew away.
Meanwhile, Hassan the Archer was taken on an expedition to find the Lost City of Iram by a Sheikh who knew a lot more than he did. They found it, but, of all the treasures there, they could only take a small box of red sulphur, which nevertheless had the power to transform everyday objects into gold and jewels. Riches and luxury were a poor compensation for Hassan, whose wife and children had mysteriously disappeared in his absence.
Suleiman the Magnificent's fascination with the Lost City of Iram enabled him [with the help of the Oldest Stork in the World] to find it under the desert sands, but all he could do then was contemplate it, until Death, the Destroyer of Friendships and the Breaker-up of Feasts, took him, and he was buried in the city he had sought, and the djinn covered it again with the sands they had removed at his behest.
All things change, and Mahmud the Merciful succeeded to the throne of his father, known as the Merciless, and found, in the depths of his father's prisons, an old man with a small box of red dust, who had refused to divulge its secret to the former ruler, and, even as the new sultan released him, so a large bird arrived in the city, followed by a young man and young woman, whose identity, gentle listeners, I'm sure you can guess.
As if all that hadn't been treat enough for an evening for the thirteen of us gathered in an upper room, John played guitar in our first interval, and the last session brought another five stories: Janet told The Businessman on Paradise Island, Alan told The Car and the Horses, Misha told The Fish in the Grass, the Buns in the Trees, and the Sausages in the Lake, Raph told The Slippers of Abu Kassim and Mike raced through The Princess with the Golden Hair from Howard Schwartz's Elijah's Violin.