Image: Christian Schloe
My Uncle Albert made a fortune from milking the moon. All for his own benefit I must add.
As each full moon would approach Albert would call a town meeting and pontificate about the evils that could beset any random man or woman from exposure to the full moon.
He would cite examples of previous citizens who had gone mad from the influence of the full moon, perfectly sane and upstanding towns folk had gone from normal and responsible to drooling idiots forgetting their families and roaming the streets under the full moon uttering incantations and often found lying in pools of their own secretions.
In order to alleviate the concerns of the people Albert sold them his moon milk elixir with promises that a good half-cup the night before the full moon appeared would protect them from an evils that might come their way.
It is fair to say that Uncle Albert had his detractors, the people who saw him as a charlatan, a quack and made their presence felt whenever they saw Albert’s signs appear announcing his next meeting date.
But being the showman he was he had a way of countering all sceptics and winning over the vast majority of his audience.
He had a mate, Shakey Weston, whom when the going got tough, he would wheel out onto his stage as an example of a poor soul afflicted by the ravages of the full moon.
Shakey by modern standards had Parkinson’s disease but in Uncle Alberts day such things were unknown, at least in his part of the world. Shakey of course was in on the scam and bunged it on good and proper.
He’d stagger onto the stage and drool and carry on while Uncle Albert would announce that Shakey had not eaten nor drunk all day and when he was given a sandwich and a drink there followed a pantomime to beat all pantomimes.
Shakey would accentuate his condition to the point of having sandwich and drink all over the stage and not a crumb nor drop in his mouth. The poor fellow would stand there looking decidedly forlorn as around him lay his food and drink, his arms and legs shaking uncontrollably.
As if that didn’t convince you he would then tell his story in a stammering voice, the audience drawn to the sight of a man so severely afflicted by the moon that his tale was told slowly and painfully. The audience would hang on his every word as he told them of the Easter full moon some five years previously where when walking home from the public house he happened to glance up at it and suffered a life changing shock. So overcome was he that he was stuck rigid for some ten minutes until Uncle Albert happened to come by and shook him back into reality, but the damage had been done and he went from being the most steady man in town to the shakiest one overnight.
Once Shakey was finished Uncle Albert would regale the audience with promises of no such affliction would beset anyone who drank his moon milk elixir.
The result was the stuff sold like hot cakes. Some bought several bottles and Uncle Albert and Shakey would later retire to their humble dwelling, count the spoils of their night and have quiet ale or two together.
I met Uncle Albert in my youth and he was by then an old man. His days of selling his moon milk were long past, but the legend had lived on within the family.
On my second visit I worked up the courage to ask him how he made his moon milk. He was surprised I knew about it but not surprised the stories had been passed on to me from my father.
He didn’t say much that day, but I saw a gleam in his eye as he remembered back to those times.
He smiled at me and said. ‘It was ginger beer.’