I was invited to lunch with the Sword family. Their front garden was rather untidy with a few brambles about the place and some stray thistles among some badly-pruned rose-bushes with sharp thorns. The path to the front door contained some sharp flints which were painful to walk on.
I banged the sword-shaped knocker and after a short wait the younger Sword child opened the door. “Mother,” he called, “it’s that lady from TABI come to lunch or (under his breath) whatever passes for it in this house.” The Queen of Swords appeared from the rear of the house holding a vegetable knife. “Oh, do come in,” she said, and motioned me to a room on the right. It was furnished with hard-looking chairs with sharp corners and I barked my shins making my way round the chair nearest the door. I found an angular sofa to sit on and banged my elbow on the hard arm. “I’ll bring you a drink. White wine all right?” (It wasn’t really, but it was obviously going to be the only drink available.)
While the Queen was sorting out my white wine, I looked round the room. There were books everywhere. I knew the King was an academic though I was not sure in what subject. There were books of philosophy in English and German, and translations of the classical Greek philosophers neatly stacked on the shelves. There were no ornaments or pictures or photographs, and no light reading of any kind.
The King came in. “Oh, are you the lady from TABI?” he asked. “Is the Queen getting you something to drink? …You’ll bring one for me, won’t you?” he shouted in the direction of what I assumed was the kitchen.
The younger Sword child came in with two glasses wobbling on a tray. “Well, offer the tray to the guest first,” said the King. The wine was quite as sharp as I had expected, and I tried not to wince at the first mouthful, but the King sipped his glass with relish.
It was rather difficult to make conversation with the King as he had no small talk and was more interested in telling me about academic politics and back-stabbing, about which I did not know anything. It was a relief when the Queen called us to lunch, which was in another room, looking over the back garden which was even more neglected than that at the front. Just as we were settling into our places there was a roaring noise from outside and the sound of a revving motorcycle engine. “Ah,” said the King, “here comes No 1 son.”
The Knight burst into the dining room, looking very untidy and breathless. “Is lunch ready?” he demanded, “I have to go out again in five minutes, people to chivvy, they are so dopey and slow.” The Queen told him to sit down and to greet me. “Oh, you’re that lady from TABI. Sorry I don’t have time to talk to you, need to get on. Mother, where is lunch??”
Lunch was duly put on the table. Quiche and salad. The lettuce was roughly chopped, but the Queen had managed to make tomato “flowers”, and there were some pots of shop-made potato salad and coleslaw. The Queen brandished a knife to cut into the quiche. It looked home-made, it was a bad shape, and the edges of the pastry had caught in the oven. The Queen stabbed the quiche. It was hard and the knife made no impression. She stabbed it again. The knife still made no impression. “Oh, for goodness sake, Mother,” said the Page, waving his cutlery about, “why don’t you get that sword of father’s to slice the thing?” The Knight rushed out of the room and came back with the King’s sword. He hacked at the quiche with abandon and cut it into five unequal portions. “Sorry,” he said, “Can’t stay,” and dashed out with a large piece of quiche which he crammed into his mouth as he left.
The Queen looked embarrassed. I kept silent while I gnawed my way through the tough pastry. “I hope to God there is no pudding” I thought. (There was: it was apple crumble, which had also caught in the oven, and the apples tasted as sharp as if — well of course they did, she had forgotten the sugar).
“Are you visiting any of the other Court families?” asked the Queen as I was (thankfully) leaving. Before I could answer, she said “Because if you are, you want to watch those Pentacles. Plenty of money, and nice catering business, but they are not intelligent; and the Cups have no time for mental activity – it’s all emotional well-being with them.”
“And the Wands?” I asked.
“Oh, they are just out for a good time, not interested in the real world at all.”
Illustrated with: Radiant RWS Tarot by US Games