I was listening to Janis Joplin do ‘Piece of my heart’ with her first band ‘Big Brother and the Holding Company’ and even after so many years the originality of her sound still held its own – after what – thirtyfive years? Anyway, the song brought memories cascading from the vaults of the memory bank and a sense of nostalgia prevailed. Janis left Big Brother in ’68 and the band disappeared.

Big Brother was firmly established in his brave new world that was Wonderland. His various deals with the Red Knaves and anyone else he could sign a document with had served him well and there he was watching through his vide-screen system that covered all parts of his kingdom. He was now focussing on Billy Goat, his brother in arms, who had returned from his mission for Big Brother and the Holding Company. The mission itself had gone as well as could be expected – under the circumstances of course. His brief (relatively speaking) tenure as strategist for The Holding Company’s Funny Farm had succeeded in creating a situation that could only be described as ‘dire’.

The Queen of Hearts had been evicted from Wonderland – for the moment at any rate – although she was rumoured to be staging a comeback. This didn’t bother Billy Goat or Big Brother, as they were certain they could maintain their position in control of the Funny Farm and quell the rumours of dissent in Wonderland.

The King of Clubs and his special feline forces had long been consolidating their positions in their quest for their own bit of the chess board that is Wonderland, but Billy had, to some extent, succeeded in moving the Holding Company’s pawns to thwart the Black King’s aggressive moves. And so the battle for territory continued. And the viewers were transfixed as the giant screens all around this fantasy world projected the images in all their graphic detail.

The viewers themselves could play the game – fitting the prevailing conditions to suit their individual purposes, depending on the stakes, their investments in Wonderland and how the outcome would fit their respective agendas. The Bushwhackers from the west had made their position clear. The Red Injuns, having burnt themselves much earlier in the piece, were more wary, but got their message across as well. The Rune Readers were in it – up to their eyeballs – and were doing their damndest to sort out the messy game, although they found the going to be like wading through water that was up to their armpits.

The Goat, however, had a one-track mental state, and as far as he was concerned, more aggression meant more equipment and materials for the Holding Company’s pawns and even though the coffers were depleted, the side-effects or ‘benefits’, if you will, could be stashed for future use. So as far as he and Big Brother were concerned – the hell with the consequences of their strategy.

The King of Clubs was furious. He was celebrating his birthday and as usual his birthday message to his loyal (and not so loyal) subjects had to be conveyed. However, because of the Holding Company’s aggressive stance and Billy’s gung-ho attitude, he had to do a secretly taped message to play back instead of holding the usual tamasha with all its pomp and pagentry. Almost as soon as his message went to the masses, the King made his move. A suicidal pawn was sent to terminate Billy in the usual fashion, but, as fate would have it, Billy’s planets were in the right configuration (for him) and the plot failed.

So now, there they were in Wonderland, everyone watching and waiting to see how Big Brother and Billy Goat would react – and how the King of Clubs would follow up his failure to terminate Billy with extreme prejudice.

The viewers across the seas watch the giant screens in Wonderland and place their bets according to their own agendas, while the power-brokers in Wonderland get on with their scheming and pandering to Big Brother and the Holding Company in the morass that Wonderland has become.

Java and I get back to Janis doing ‘I got dem ol kozmic blues again mamma’, this time with the Kozmic Blues Band – Big Brother was a thing of the past for her at this stage in her career. And Java and I can’t help but wonder if this will ever happen in the ‘not too distant’ to our BB in this Wonderland of ours.

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