Let me tell you a tale of the Goblin King’s Masquerade Ball.
There once was a raven girl who lived a thousand lives, carried a hundred names and almost as many faces. In the interest of avoiding confusion, it’s best to call her Ritzi, since that’s the name she goes by in this world, for today anyway.
One cold, damp and drizzly morning, an invitation arrived upon her writing desk, delivered by owl or email, she can’t quite recall which. An invitation to the Goblin King’s Masquerade Ball.
She sent her reply back at once, because one does not dilly dally when Goblin Kings and their balls are involved, and promptly braved the Goblin Markets of Camden Town to find appropriate garb, since it had been a long while since she had ventured far from the mortal realm.
At last, the day of the ball arrived, and through dangers untold and hardships unnumbered* Ritzi fought her way to the tube station beyond the goblin city** where she plucked her friend Ned – who, being a time traveller, had a tendency to wander now, then and everywhen and could not be trusted to make it on her own clock – out of time and bid her paint a mask upon her face, for they were off to the Underground.
*you might also know this as Soho
Their flight was uber short, considering the distance and Ned’s tendency to muddle things, but somehow they arrived very nearly on time. As Ritzi shook out her feathers and Ned put away her pocket watch, they found their way barred by a pair of unsavoury characters. But all was not as it seemed, of course – it turned out they weren’t unsavoury at all, they were just Scottish. Since Ritzi and Ned knew they were choosing down regardless, they were soon on their way once more.
Afterwards, they tripped and fell into an Oubliette, which had in recent years been transformed into something of a den of iniquity – the very best kind. They parleyed with goblin aristocracy and danced with the odd nymph or two, until they stumbled across a fortune teller and Ritzi begged to know her future. Ned wandered off elsewhere, since she was a time traveller after all and such things were of little concern to her.
The fortune teller laid out her cards and told a pretty tale of handsome strangers and dangerous fruit, which is all part and parcel of a night in the Underground this close to Beltane after all, but when she warned that a change was coming, she expected it to mean something life changing and profound, but Ritzi knew better. She felt the telltale tingle in around her shoulder blades that always came before her raven wings burst forth and carried her away.
Paying the fortune teller her reasonable five gold pieces, Ritzi caught Ned – who had somehow gotten herself into a duel over the rights of a couple of enslaved faeries – by the arm and together they flew up and out of the Underground, and into a magical realm known as the Smoking Area.
Now Ritzi, having casually ignored the fact that she had a tendency to turn into a raven when a tad inebriated most of her life, knew that some kind of fortification was needed to calm her feathers, but she had nothing of the sort to hand and despite the fact that she was surrounded by wizards and mages, she and Ned could gather nothing more than a few, what the locals called; ‘rizzlers’, and a fist full of bog standard human tobacco. What’s a raven girl to do?
If this sorry state of affairs wasn’t bad enough, her fingers had already turned to talons and she could not even grip the thing to roll it up. Ned was no help; having sustained a sword related injury while defending faerie rights not long before, she lacked the dexterity required.Just when it seemed that all was lost, an angel with a snow white tan and a talent for left handed guitar playing appeared to fall from the very sky. The angel swooped in on a cloud of stardust, deftly rolled a cigarette magnificently, and disappeared into the night without another word.
At last, Ritzi breathed in her salvation and for a moment her wings flattened against her back and all was well.
Until, some hours after the witching hour, Ritzi ate the Peach.
Now, peaches in the goblin realm are tricky, sticky things. They come in all shapes and sizes, and sometimes they might not look like peaches at all. Sometimes, they might look like say, a bottle of prosecco. In fact they look exactly like four bottles of prosecco in quick succession on an empty stomach.
And so, our heroes danced and danced. They danced with faeries, they danced with goblins, they danced with princesses and sometimes they danced a little to close to Goblin Kings. Every time the night seemed like it might be over, Ned turned the clock back just so they could dance some more. And as the hours went by, Ritzi began to notice the prickle of wings beneath her skin once more but this time she didn’t rush to hide and let her raven wings spring forth and carry her into the sky, because in a kingdom full of goblins and the like, the raven girl was hardly strange at all. She twirled and whirled overhead, and laughed and cried until, at some time close to dawn, the spell suddenly broke and her fluttering wings faltered. She plummeted, down and down and down some more, but the ground didn’t break her fall. Ned, in a well timed moment of sobriety, caught her by the tail feathers and in the blink of an eye, they were home.
And so the moral of this tale, if it must have one at all, is this; once you find your people, never be afraid to spread your wings and fly, but for goodness sake when you do, make sure you have a friend to catch you when you fall. And if they happen to have the power to manipulate time, that’s quite handy too. And if all else fails, make pancakes and drink your weight in coffee, because it’s all very well and good being the girl who ate the peach and forgot everything, until the hangover kicks in and you remember.
And on that note, happy belated beltane folks. Hope you had a merry slutdrop around the maypole. I certainly did.
Muggle world stuff: The Goblin King’s Masquerade ball is an annual (ish) event run by the clever folk at Guerrilla Zoo. It takes place in the wonderful, and soon to be torn down Coronet in Elephant and Castle.
There were lots of amazing acts/characters/artists present but the ridiculously accurate ‘Alf and Ralph’ costumes as featured above were made and performed by Tootles and Nibs, who I can only find on Instagram but I want to find their website and book them for a party. Or just a Tuesday.