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Western Oz Words: Vistors From Another Time

Margaret Dunn "invited'' three famous people to her home - Marilyn Monroe, Jane Austen and Robert Burns.

I had always imagined meeting up with some of my favourite personalities from the past and now here they were. Jane Austin, who had written of life among the gentry of England in the early 1800s, the scandals and entanglements of the families she knew. But had she only been an onlooker, or had she herself been involved?

There was no doubt that my next guest had lived life to the full – Marilyn Monroe, the great Hollywood Actress, glamour girl of scandalous affairs, and a quick mind that saw through all the hype and dishonesty of the movie world. What stories she could tell’

And the man to escort these ladies was Robert Burns, Scottish poet and activist for the brotherhood of man, tho’ with a sharp touch of satire. By the late 1700s he had produced a vast collection of works that won international acclaim. These three seemed quite at home in my lounge room, eyeing each other with interest.

Marilyn had read Jane’s stories when she was a teenager. They were a bit tame compared with her own life and times. Jane was glancing at Marilyn’s blonde hair and voluptuous figure – slightly shocked but totally fascinated. Burns was sitting next to Marilyn on the sofa, trying to seem aloof but looking hot and flushed, his dark hair a bit dishevelled. The history books praised his talents – but there had always been stories of his sexual excesses and numerous affairs with country girls, and with ladies in Edinburgh who were happy to entertain him.

I brought in refreshments – tea for Jane: G & T for M. and red wine for Burns. in time to hear M’s comment: “Jane, in Pride & Predjudice, I really fell for Mr. Darcy, so dark and brooding – and I think you had the hots for him too. Was he based on some guy you knew?” Jane flushed. “Well yes, but that man was married to the Vicar’s niece, so I had to keep my hot feelings to myself. But there were other gentlemen I had interacted with – just to obtain material for my books of course.”

Burns had moved closer to Marilyn on the sofa, his dark brown eyes appreciating every inch of her. She responded with that intimate eye contact that had started many a blaze in Hollywood. “So, you are the Scottish poet: I’ll bet you set the heather on fire.... Then she quoted from the only poem she had memorised (the others were in the foreign Scots language nobody could pronounce.)

My love is like a red, red rose that’s newly sprung in June.
My love is like the melody that’s sweetly played in tune
As fair art thou my bonny lass, so deep in love am I.

And I will love thee still my dear till all the seas run dry...”

"So, who did you write that one for?'' Marilyn asked.

He leaned forward, putting his hand on her knee. “If you had been there it would have been for you.”

She removed the hand. “Mm, perhaps you could have composed something more... spicy for me?”

He drew a small notebook and pencil from his pocket and began to write.

Jane was watching, fascinated. “Er, Marilyn, I’ve heard that you were married three times. Is that right?”

“ Yeah, it was becoming a habit, a bad habit. But Arthur Miller, my third, was the one I would have settled on.” She went into details about her life with Arthur. Jane listened, wide-eyed. Maybe she was gathering material for her next incarnation as a writer.

Burns looked up from his book, touched Marilyn’s hand, and softly began to read:

My love is like a silken scarf that binds me to thy breast
My love is like a sweet perfume thy body has caressed
The spices of the Orient are dust compared to thee
And I am so enthralled my Love I never will be free.

I sat there in a soft shadow of wonder as the lamplight began to dim and the room grew dark. Later, I came awake, trying to keep hold of the feelings those three had left with me. Had it all been a dream? No, they had been there.


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