Hoe Valley Times

Hoe Valley Times

Hoe Valley Times

Life and times in the Hoe Valley

Hot Metal

The Hoe ValleyPosted by Peter Cowlam Sat, September 30, 2017 14:00:57

The article Mawdrie put out juxtaposed the glamorous Zora Murillo with the filth and squalor he had reported on over the past two decades, all of it emanating from the Pleiades. There were the drug busts, the money laundering, the lock-ins, the back rooms and garaging as focus of gang wars county-wide. He thought he paid her a compliment when he likened this chic new addition to an enlightened little market town, to an Egyptian queen biblical in her ancestry. In reality he probed for the source of her wealth, musing aloud that perhaps she was heiress to one of those industrial magnates who’d opened up the West, or a Hollywood goddess retracing her English lineage. He would live to regret that blunder. Zora read his article, and was toxic with rage, and with a 5,000-word essay penned her reply. It had the essence of scripture, and no lack of authority, adding up to a point-by-point refutation of the Mawdrie slur, as she called it, a ragbag of small-town thinking. She wondered by what order of posterity she was linked to the femme fatale of pre-Christian Roman politics, or a pampered scion of the robber barons big in rail or steel, or a manipulated starlet of that ever yawning silver screen. If it was down to direct historical analogy, she’d point him to the daughter of Michael Psellus, in whose Chronographia we see chronicled Byzantium’s awesome military power degenerating into an effete bureaucracy, a fate suffered by all flagging empires, as applicable to news and media as it was to imperial statecraft. Mawdrie went and looked it up, and was able to tell his readers of Psellus’s daughter Styliane, though in what context he wasn’t clear. At age nine Styliane was tall, elegant, graceful in her movements, modest in her clothing, a girl admired by the rich and powerful, in whose company she behaved with artless perfection – no tricks, no boasting, all done without cosmetics. But she fell ill, with a plague-like disease, whose mark was fever and eruptions, and the ruination of her looks. She lay for twenty days with the pain of her sores. When those on her face improved her parents hoped for full recovery. But the fever worsened, and she’d no reserves of strength to resist the onslaught. She couldn’t speak or eat. On the thirty-first day she raised her hands in a gesture of farewell, and thereafter the house was filled with mourners. At her funeral she was unrecognisable from that unspoilt beauty she had been, covered as she was in sores. You can imagine Psellus and his wife, and their lament, and a grief they didn’t recover from. How this might have been paralleled in Zora’s own life it was left to someone other than Maudrie to discover, with access to a different order of information. But we’ll come to that. [To be continued.]




Fill in only if you are not real





The following XHTML tags are allowed: <b>, <br/>, <em>, <i>, <strong>, <u>. CSS styles and Javascript are not permitted.