Now here’s a funny thing. It seems to Lucy that in all her years in this glittery city she must always have been away at this season, visiting a rackety aunt in Kirkaldy or some such excursion. Because, although she lives quite near the Ghetto (no, she’s not going to give away her calle and have all you brawny Blondels tuning your ukeleles under her balcony – petite but loungeable, with little stone lions at the balustrade corners), she has never before been a witness to Purim. This, in case you don’t know (she didn’t), is when the hasidim get hammered. In celebration of some distant event in the Book of Esther all those skimpily bearded Chabader yooves are encouraged, even obliged, to knock the stuff back until they can’t distinguish ‘Down with Haman’ from ‘Up with Mordecai’.
Now, Lucy is reliably informed that these two ringing phrases, never far from her lips, are quite dissimilar in nearly all languages, so a good deal of hooch has to hit the liver before that hilarious state is achieved, which quickly elides into oblivion.
Hence the eerie spectacle – as your Lucy clacked home from yet another evening of gaiety – of the Campo del Ghetto Nuovo under the moonlight looking like that Antony Gormley installation of recumbent hominoids that graced the forecourt of the Royal Academy some years back. As always, of course, it’s down to the feminoids to clear up afterwards and jump to with the kosher prairie oysters first thing on the morrow, tut-tutting under their lustrous wigs, but Purim comes but once a year – and next time round Lucy’s going to be looking out for it.