Some time ago I was asked to contribute something to a very special book, in which several writers approached the subject of Doctor Who encountering Lawrence of Arabia. I chose to concentrate on Lawrence’s attendance at the Paris Peace Conference, and because I could only spare two days to do it, wrote it as a 300-line poem. The book was made as a very personal wedding gift for a Dr Who fan from his frankly loopy wife, so I think there are only about five copies in existence. And I’ve got one! I usually write for money, so it’s probably the only fan fiction I am ever likely to produce, but I was quite pleased to have crammed all 12 Doctors into a single work. There are many Easter Eggs in here for those who know the worlds of Who… or indeed Lawrence, or I suppose, the Paris Peace Conference.
Ohana hungered for the gaze
Of others, basking in the praise of their attentions at Grand Balls
At gin-soaked parties, vaulted halls. She waited eagerly for cards
Of invitation – vellum shards for Hotel Somethings, Palais Thats
Where through a sea of diplomats she’d glide in elegant brocades,
Black hair a sculpture in pomades, her skin a doll-like ivory
A beauty there for all to see. Some of the men had brought their wives
Who stared at her with eyes like knives and whispered that this child of Asia
Was merely a transplanted geisha, which was the truth. And to be sure,
She was a youthful twenty-four, a little girl from far away,
Her task to make an evening gay with laughter, jokes or samisen
A haiku line or five or ten. A revered art in Tokyo
But here in Europe, who could know her fine poetic masteries
When only parsed in Japanese? Unable to correct this flaw,
They thought her just Saionji’s whore. Her aging Prince, with leathered face
Could wow the crowd with mots francais. He spoke it well to much delight
And so at every Paris night, when talk soon turned to books and songs,
The Conference and righting wrongs, Saionji got along just fine.
Ohana sunk her woes in wine. She sneaked out to the balconies
For cigarettes in twos and threes. She walked among the breathless throng
A sight that lasted for too long. A striking red-clad Japanese
Amazed Versailles societies, but with the summer turning cold
She felt her novelty grow old. A newer belle called Oei Hui-Lan
Fluttered beneath a feathered fan. She chased the Chinese delegate
And caused the press to speculate that marriage might be on the way,
Which made the news reporters’ day but left Ohana in the dust.
Though stay she did, as stay she must. The jealous women bad enough,
Ohana found it even tougher dealing with the leering men
Who gathered at the bar, and then would proffer drinks or light a match
And always try their best to snatch a foreign woman to their bed.
She hated them. Except for Ned. Continue reading