Part One


The man is trussed up, so that:
the bag of his balls is rounded and pleasantly kneaded by his thighs which move as if his legs were slowly walking, heel to toe, and swinging his hips. His cock is on the qui vive, slowly massaged by two sets of fingers, one over its base, and one over its mushroomlike top. It is pointing at a woman trussed into position and raised horizontally in the air. Her legs are wide apart and a silk scarf is being lingeringly slid, up and down, along her slit. Her mouth is open to catch the man’s nutritious sperm which he will shoot into it from several feet away. Her breasts protrude as they do on sailing-ship figureheads; and from the one on the left a baby is dangling, hanging on for dear life with its energetically kneading mouth, and held up to its nipple by an au pair whose rump is bared and sticking out and about to be entered by the cock of a man whose thighs are locked together by the legs of another man who is entering from in front. The other nipple is being teased and worried by a woman riding sidesaddle (in such a way as to show her cleavages) on a halted and haltered au pair on all fours whose rump is bared and sticking up and about to be entered by the foot-long cock of a man whose legs are wrapped round by the legs of another who is on his back and about to enter her from beneath.

Lord Rumwinkle gave a heartfelt sigh, and turned away from the painting with regret that such things were out of his financial and physical reach. This not yet famous painting hung in the modest apartment he had reserved for himself when the rest of his estate was turned over for tourists to pasture on and, for a modest charge, keep him for the remaining years of his life out of the picturesque ruin of the pauper-house his far-flung imagination brought up for his inspection when he inclined that way. He was now eighty-five, and had developed into a fine art, and late in life, the ability to hear and not to hear. He now chose not to hear his guest, the Honourable Betsy True-Lung, whose mother had dumped her on him till a new nanny was found. The six year old was shouting obscene words, varied every now and then by more modest ones. At whom she was shouting, he did not know nor, to tell the truth, at that moment much care.

Betsy True-Lung, as she called herself, eschewing the Honourable as distracting from the point, was strumming the hem of her frock up and down an old dozing cat to accompany her swearing. Now and again he held an eye slightly ajar to show he was nobody’s fool and knew very well who was trying to destroy his equanimity and provoke him into an unbecoming display of playfulness.

Betsy, tiring of such unproductive work and with swearing for its own sake, thought she’d take another tack. She called John, the manservant, and when he came dressed him down for what seemed a good half hour. When she had done, he allowed himself a "Very good, madam. Shall I give in my notice?" She considered this was going too far on his part, even smacking, perhaps, of an evil she had heard her mother call presumption, whose finer details she expected would give her much satisfaction when fully mastered. To instill the proper awe into him she assumed a stern silence, more effective than words, and to show how tired she was of his world and its ways, made her eyes into slits and shook her head resignedly, and then closed her eyes, and conceded a short nod of agreement when he went on to say, "I take it there is nothing else your ladyship requires." Back in the kitchen, he ate a muffin with seemingly slow judicious appreciation, while contemplating some of the more hideous murders within his cognizance, and silently deploring how in this world it was hard for perpetrators of crimes dedicated to higher purposes to avoid judicial condemnation however much the judges in the next world might sympathize with them. Meanwhile the cook, puffing and blowing, monologued on this and that, blowing off plenty of steam while unerringly preparing everybody’s supper.


Philip Dearborn was having a rather rough time. He hadn’t eaten for two days. A waitress had whisked someone else’s unfinished dinner from under his nose as he was preparing to eat it, and he had had to leave the restaurant as a consequence of the resultant altercation. He was unshaven. He had no money. And he was desperate.

A few days before, the match with which he had just lit his third marijuana stogie of the evening had slipped unnoticed from his fingers and burnt up the stock of drawings he had made, in which sex played a prominent part. While putting out the fire, he had broken the wrist and two of the fingers of his drawing arm. Essentially one-armed before (the other he used to support himself when getting up and to tear off toilet paper to wipe his bottom with, and for a few other things), he could no longer draw and had nothing to sell for even the meager living they had got him before.

He decided to visit the art dealer who had sold some of his drawings, and whose expected reluctance to come up with the necessary spondulicks would have to be overcome by extorting an advance from him for some future drawings by threatening that if he didn’t make the advance the drawings would have to display recognizable features of the dealer while manifesting and minimizing some of the ones he apparently never displayed in public.

Philippe de Messenger, art dealer extraordinaire, as he congratulatingly reminded himself several times a day, was about to put down the phone when Philip came in. Onto the cause of the visit in a flash whose speed even he was surprised at; he pretended to still be on the phone, and covering the mouthpiece with his other hand, whispered to Philip that he was very busy and could Phil come tomorrow instead? Compressing his lips, Phil shook his head, several times, blackly. He was swathed in a black cape which hid his injured arm, to prevent any suspicion of the possibility he could not deliver his drawings soon. The cape would have the additional advantage of reminding some of the elderly he might meet of the artists of their youth at the turn of the century fifty years ago. Softened by an upwelling of remembrances, they would perhaps invite him for afternoon tea and unburdening themselves of their memories would, almost without noticing it, as if it were a matter of course, let drop like sere leaves, one or two faded green fivers from palsied fingers as a downpayment on a commission, who knows? But meanwhile none of the elderly were in sight, not even a young and innocent girl mesmerized by the idea of art who might be quickly converted, say by suppertime, into seeing him as a neglected genius and herself as the future midwife of his success; that would have other advantages too, but at this moment sex was a distraction, and he sternly repressed the thought of it even as de Messenger, art dealer extraordinaire, told an uncomprehending phone that he was coming over rightaway.

Pressing a silent button under his desk, de Messenger conjured up out of the basement a young girl who was not so innocent. Her black hair swathed down her forehead and over her black eyes, like an English sheepdog’s, which enabled her to observe without being observed, and suggested a neurosis more open and desirable than that required for the wearing of dark glasses. She was slim, a femme fatale, and had the hardness of a doorknob; and while Philip was momentarily distracted by her, Philippe slipped out and went round the corner and ordered himself a sandwich and coffee and sat back and gazed with satisfaction in the mirror at himself and the waitress. She was unaware of the derogatory attention her reflection was getting as compared to his, and continued to talk pleasantly to a flamboyant black-eyed young man who was sitting back at his ease with crossed legs which was as far as his religion went, though he attended churches where the young choristers interested him. This man, philippe de Nourcelles, who cultivated the small p in his written first name the better to call attention to himself, was a black-marketeer with a marked veneer of the finest clothes and eyebrows, and a delicate moustache.


The slim girl appeared to be acting on a decision she had made, to become a seated statue. Philip decided to dispense with formalities. He broke the silence by asking her, in a manner suggesting that her reply would settle a major question in philosophy, if by any chance she happened to have sixpence.

Silence. No other response. Was she deaf?

Perhaps philosophy was not a major interest of hers. He quickly explained that he did not mean "seex pensees," a rather seldom used French phrase equivalent to the English "a penny for your thoughts."

This it seemed warranted a response. She produced a simple confection of brown crocodile skin and rummaged in it.

"No," she said.

"Well, a shilling then?"

More rummaging. "No, I’m afraid."

"D’you have any money at all?"

A perfunctory rummage. "No."

"Well then, how are you going to eat?"

"I’ve brought a sandwich."

Playfully, "Show me."

More rummaging. "Can’t, really. I forgot it."

"Then what are you going to do?"

"I don’t know. Perhaps you can treat me."

Shock froze Philip’s mouth. He wished he could treat her. Fate gave with one hand while taking away with the other. As he had been told in the Catholic school he’d attended, sinners in Hell were even punished further by being enabled to see the happiness in the Heaven from which they were excluded. Economic circumstances had made her into a forbidden fruit. Decidedly attractive.

To salve what he could from the situation, he swept his bad arm over the desk preparatorily to assuring her that nothing would give him greater pleasure though there was one small snag: he was without the ready. The cape hit the bag and sent it to the floor where sixpences and shillings and a sandwich scattered out of it.

Another shock. His pale face coloured. Like an orchestral conductor rising on his toes and about to be carried away, rage arose in him and seemed about to take over. He would denounce her, tell her what’s what.

She began to laugh.

"What are you laughing at, you silly cow?"

After what seemed to him an inordinately long time, while he waited, rage in hand, pale and cool as a cucumber, she regained control over her laughter and said, "That’s Jennifer’s bag."

"Jennifer?" in the tone of an irate judge determined to get at the facts.

"The new girl."

"So where’s yours? And what were you doing, looking in hers?"

"Just curious." She shrugged. "Wanted to see what was in it." As if to get rid of a pressure on her, she thrust her chin up, which made her hair momentarily rise and reveal her eyes. They reflected no light. Nothing came out of their blackness. To him, all sorts of possibilities seemed to lurk unseen in them. At that moment he became her captive.

Suddenly both dived onto their hands and knees in heady proximation, and began to replace the contents of the bag. Philip palmed a pound note with such deftness, and ease of conscience, that he could not help thinking it had something to do with the Darwinian posture he was in, before the development of uprightness. When Philippe returned, his well-hidden dismay at finding Philip still there turned to almost open amazement when Philip civilly wished him a good afternoon and left, accompanied by Polly (the girl) who explained she was taking her break. They went round the corner to the cafe he had just left.


philippe de Nourcelles was driving north from London in his sports car the virulence of whose colour caused envy in men who envisaged the hordes of fun women it would attract and put at their disposal if it were theirs. The hood was down and the wind constantly caressed his face, much to his satisfaction. He had just given a lift to a girl and he had her phone number. (Author’s note: her eyes were not black.) He was on his way to see his aunt so he could continue to deserve his part in her will.

With a mile to go and now well into the predominantly green countryside, he caught up with a very pretty girl he could not help baring his teeth at in a grin wide enough to have exposed even a ribbed radiator had there been one in his mouth, and although he punctuated its duration with an exclamatory toot of his horn, she did not see it. She was too busy bicycling to Lord Rumwinkle’s, with whom she had an understanding.


O ruby-red blood! At this point, there is a fissure in the narrative of this story. Ruby-red blood oozes over the parquetry in the Rumwinkle library and overlays it with a shallow pool soon to be interrogated by the local police.

There seems to be more than one version. Rumour likes alternatives. The natives thereabouts obliged. Rumour bloomed like a bed of flowers in which each successive rank overtops those in front of it. Flagstones, some said. The blood spread over the kitchen flagstones and proclaimed his death. The cook felt a need to explain to the butler that the spilt blood was red and not the true aristocratic blue because his lordship’s line did not go back very far and had not had time to develop.

A link in the chain that had held up Lord Rumwinkle’s painting had parted and the falling frame had cracked his head open for further inspection.

The first to find his body were the servants. The guilty painting had by then disappeared and been replaced on the wall by one from the opposite wall, and so was not a suspect. When she found Lord Rumwinkle apparently murdered, it had been carried away under the arm of the bicycling girl who had come to do her weekly dance in the nude for him. He had paid her for practicing her art which would otherwise have had to be perfected without pay. They had both enjoyed that.


Lord Rumwinkle felt a corner of the frame hit his head. It knocked him silly. He saw the trussed-up woman sail clean out of the frame then swing back like a battering ram and hit him hard with her breasts while everyone else in the picture stood agape. The corner of the frame blushed red. And then, heigh ho, he was in heaven. Women all over the place. He felt compelled to explain to them that he had a bit of a headache, but that if they didn’t mind waiting, he would be with them shortly. Then he blacked out.

In the hospital, did the old man in the bed next to him have a sense of humour and unusual hospital fare? Rumwinkle later remembered coming-to and seeing a poached egg where the fellow’s head should have been, a yellow-faced yoke with two bloody splotches in it, which may have been bloodshot eyes, and a surround of white which must have been a beard. After staring at it for a bit, and not seeing it change into anything else, he relapsed into his coma with a puzzled look round his eyes. The night nurse thought that look an improvement, which the next nurse thought further improved on when she saw it being slowly replaced by a look of satisfaction. In fact, Rumwinkle had amused himself in his sleep by dreaming that the poached egg had been sprinkled with grated cheese and served to two of his dogs, who disdained it until the white had been meticulously shaved off by a barber in a white gown. After they had licked it up, he woke in a dark twilight to feel a nurse’s lips withdrawing from his. Not trusting his senses and wishing to enquire about this and other desiderata, he did the best he could and uttered a strangled "Agh," whereupon the lips returned and lingered on his before hurrying away and kissing the lampstand and a sink and wrapping themselves round a doorknob while the light in the room grew ever brighter till he opened his eyes and found himself staring into the beam of a flashlight. Behind the beam, an invisible doctor asked how he was, and satisfied by another "Agh," said "Good. We’ll have you up and about in no time," and left the room. His mind on his coming vacation, he heard but did not register Rumwinkle’s dissent. "Nargh."


philippe de Nourcelles, having disposed of his aunt with an obligatory and perfunctory kiss on her proffered cheek while her eyes acquiesced and focussed on nothing in particular, was driving back when he saw the same cyclist pushing her bike towards him, with a roll of canvas under her arm. She had tied it up before pouring several drinks into her increasingly parched throat in the parlour of the inn she had dropped in on in order to have a quick one and bandy a word or two with the innkeeper who continued to shine up the counter with a hand on which the blasted stubs of solitary hairs stood on end while with the other he had handed her some thin string which she snapped off with pearly whites glistening with saliva that had welled up at the temporary intrusion of the string past her stretched lips. She emerged in a bit of a stupor.

De Nourcelles stopped his car, and sat back, at ease.

About to mount the bike at the crest of the hill where he was, her rising foot stopped in mid air at an urgent toot from his horn. Still lying back he beckoned with a weak arm and thanked her with a weak smile when she came over. He told her he was feeling unwell and asked her to drive him or at least accompany him and guide him to the nearest hotel. She agreed to, propped her bike behind the nearest hedge and popped down beside him.

By and by a nose investigated the bicycle. That done to his satisfaction, a large dog, whose nose it was, gripped the rolled canvas with his mouth (more adroitly than if a human had used the same method), and galloped back with it towards his owner, but never let her come near enough to take it from him, despite her repeated demands that he relinquish it to her and despite her attempts to approach him, which she relinquished in her turn till he reluctantly, after many a growling jerkaway of his head, yielded it to her at their cottage door. "Bad bad boy." To save face, he answered her with a perfunctory growl before turning away. "Oh, you didn’t mean that," she said. But he was sulking, and wouldn’t look at her.

Hoping to find a clue to the owner, she settled into her armchair with a cup of tea and a buttered scone at hand and began to unroll the canvas. Had the armchair been a chair of mere ordinary standing it would have toppled backwards and given her head a good crack on the floor. Horror, and revulsion! Had the cup been in her hand, it would have jumped out of it and shattered itself on the floor. Had there been a fire in the grate it would have burnt the canvas immediately. She tried to tear the canvas apart with her hands, but couldn’t, and would have tried with her teeth if her upbringing hadn’t precluded her thinking of that. A maladroit pair of blunt scissors were persuaded to cut into it, a preliminary to greater things. But before these things could come into being, the deck had to be cleared to make room for them. So first she narrowed her concentration to the task of gulping her tea down, and curtailed the length of her sense of her earned right to drink it, more than she would have cared for under normal circumstances. But as soon as the last cup lay empty and the pot held no hope of more, she realized that even if she cut the canvas into bits, incriminatory bits would remain, which even in her outside rubbish bin, might be discovered, to her everlasting and undeserved shame and loss of reputation, by the council dustman the next time he came by to empty it. And anyway she suspected him of supra-normal inquisitiveness and knew for an absolute fact that he was monumentally indiscreet in his cups and had heard, more than once, that he used his empty glass as a conductor’s wand as if regulating the amount of noise made by each of his drinking-cronies, till they refilled his glass and he drained it, and raised and poised it again, and once more moved his arm in the air, till his grip on the glass momentarily slackened and it arced through the air and smashed on the floor and the bartender ordered him to leave and there were cries of "Not again, Charlie?" and "Johnny’ere woulda caughtit ifyou’lda arst’imto, wouldn’jer, John?" and suddenly blind drunk, he was outside the door of his house.

So she hid the canvas under things in the attic so that no vestige of it was visible, but because you never know who might come and want to go up there and root around though no one she knew of ever had, retrieved it after nightfall and walked out with it in the black night, in formless old clothes she had disguised herself in in case she ran into someone who would otherwise recognize her, and placed it where the dustman would see it, inside the dustbin of a suspected loose-liver she thought should be associated with it.

But none of this happened to the canvas. All the time it had been lying, between the cyclist and de Nourcelles, in the front of the car; and leaving the lonely bike, the dog returned to his owner with nothing in his mouth.

Next, under number eight, I describe how this canvas came into the possession of de Nourcelles.


O country mine. —I am not referring to a mine that explodes when trodden on in the countryside of some former battlefield and tears off a foot, nor to an open-face mine that flays the face off the countryside, but to that speeded-up and blurred-together country de Nourcelles and his car were passing through, in which the only ownership I had I had by right of my senses, and it belonged to my eyes and ears and was shared by countless other native-born eyes and ears and by foreigners, and by its owners who had to pay for its beauty by laying out for its upkeep, but they were mostly not there, being too busy getting and spending, and what they owned bloomed, like a poppy after some other country’s rainy season, in the desert of their hearts.

The car stopped at the "Three Dragons" on whose heraldic signboard they were depicted with tongues forking out of the open mouths of baleful heads facing the passerby, and with their bodies sidelong, one above the other, their tails wreathed into a succession of rings and forked at the end. The innkeeper himself had many rings on his fingers and the black baleful look on his face that clouds have when a storm is impending, yet he was quietly spoken and civil to his customers and no doubt did not beat his wife as she was cheery and bustling about and adept at her duties. Here de Nourcelles declared himself better, and suggested to the girl that they have a drink together, and then excused himself and went to the privy which was in an outhouse at the back and as he left it he remembered he had left his keys in the car and skirting the outside of the building went to it and took the keys and seeing the canvas, out of curiosity took a peep at it, and without pausing opened the trunk of the car and put it in. He went back the way he had come, and beaming at the girl, raised his glass to her, and the upshot was they spent the night together.

In the morning, by which time they had had enough of each other, for what is life when the desire to live is no longer there and all there is to look forward to is its being over, he drove her back to the bicycle and when she reached it she remembered the painting and came running back to him, but they soon found it wasn’t there, and both concluded it had been stolen by some passer-by since the top of the car had been left open to the air and the wind, as the car radio had forecast benign weather overnight. So, after several promises to see each other soon and several smiles at each other and a lingering parting kiss and with eyes expressing mutual regret and a final "Hope you somehow come across it soon" from philippe, they turned away from each other and philippe sped off, and both gratefully relinquished their masks and once more exposed their more permanent masks to the world.


Tea is a drink that is indeed for some reason more refreshing in England and, I have heard, in India, than it is in many other countries; and this is due, I think, to the ability of the English to follow a good tradition which they have inherited, in this case by using boiling water for it, whereas in countries where coffee predominates and the water is not quite boiled, the tea tastes of diluted and not very healthy swamp water, which accounts for the sluggish look of crocodiles. Those whose business it is should really provide healthier environments for them.

So Rumwinkle and his household, to which he had returned, and Betsy True-Lung who was now back with her mother, and the variorum versions of Philip, and the women we have encountered in connection with them, and even the dog, who liked a good cup of tea once it had cooled down, were all feeling refreshed, and Lord Rumwinkle had discovered that the painting had been stolen, which the cook said to the butler was probably a good thing as his Lordship was very attached to it and his efforts to find it would probably give him a new lease on life, and the butler believed her because she was very knowledgeable about leases, and he had often heard of the victorious deeds of a near relative of hers who was a real estate lawyer, though he had never made out if he were a real lawyer, as opposed to lawyers who were figments of other people’s imaginations or merely so inept as to be always defeated by the wily machinations of her relative, or if there were other types of estate other than real, for the butler was much given to mystical thinking about the ultimate reality of things although he put such thought aside when his corns hurt. The power of unreality is indeed, he thought, very strong at times.

So it came as no surprise to philippe de Nourcelles when he thought he saw a monkey on top of a tree in London’s Regent’s Park, and then saw several more there, for this was reality and they were probably escapees from the nearby zoo, but when he saw a man flying through the air, and then another, and then two more behind him, and all maintaining the same distance from the earth, bar a swoop or two up and down, which they seemed to do at will, while holding a bowler hat in one hand and the other hand over their brows, and doing all this apparently by no known means, then he thought for a moment that he had lost it, and strongly agreed with the butler’s view of the power of unreality though he was unaware of him, and as a result of this temporary distraction of mind he knocked a man over. Unfortunately philippe was in his car and the consequences were likely to be more serious than if he had walked into him.

Later, in one of his short stretches in prison, it was explained to him, by a friendly warder who was interested in such things, that the flying men were upheld by invisible angels, but philippe himself, who by then had delved into such things, preferred anti-gravitational forces such as in his view had upheld the well-attested flights of St. Nicholas of Cupertino, though there were dark days when he thought he had simply been off his rocker. I myself am working on a theory, now within a hairsbreadth of completion, that will unify these three seemingly disparate views with some others including the Big Bang and the Little Bang, a derivative of hashish occurring spontaneously in nature, and one or two other things I have up my sleeve, which I hope will get me the Nobel Prize, only because it will deserve it, because of course I disdain the fame derived from the award of such worldly things, which serve only to attract money and the sort of women (because I am a man) who are only attracted to the visible and don’t discern the innate Platonic ideal in me which can be said to contradict my non-platonic visibility at times. But perhaps more of that later. Let us return to our muttons, though I am a vegetarian.

The man he had knocked over had a face that displayed neither emotion nor thought, not as a result of the accident but rather

I have ironed out the glitches in my Nobel theory and must now devote the remainder of my time to its propagation, shelving all other projects, including this story, and decide whether to after all sink my principles and accept the money that accompanies its award, because I do confess that women have been shunning me recently. However, you can rest assured it will not be an easy decision to make and I will have to consult with ministers of religion who are used to wrestling with such problems and overcoming them with the aid of God as a referee who is both near and distant, and interested and impartial, and with an interest in the outcome, even if he has laid no bets on it though he already knows how it will all turn out. The ministers I will hire, and pay a lot to because they insist it is God’s will, have already told me God himself does not need money or an equivalent. This is why, I have discovered, so many of those who try to be godlike, fail, and those that do seem to succeed in doing without it have a harder time dying or are immediately translated out of this life, by God’s mercy, before they slip back into possession of it and disgrace themselves.


Although this appears to be the end of this narrative, it is merely its last paragraph which I have prepared ahead of time since I won’t have time to write it if this story is unfinished when this Nobel Prize business overtakes me. If there is some delay because a recalcitrant minority on the Nobel committee will need more time before being won over by the irrefutable, and irrefragable evidence, of my theory, I will probably have time to discard this ending, and replace it with one more natural and appropriate.

So as to the man whose face —

But what about poor Philip whom I have neglected for so long?

The man whose face was expressionless had taught it to be so, so that he could think the wildest thoughts and hate anybody he came into contact with without having to face the consequences of their knowing it, and it had become so fixed that even when he wanted others to see what he was thinking or feeling, it would not register, whereas Philip who was in many ways transparent, often to his detriment,

I propose to call the man with the expressionless face, One Face.

Polly (Philip’s new girlfriend) decided to leave him. Why not? She could then, when she wished for a change of amusement, speculate on what he would think and feel as he began to doubt if he would ever see her again. To accomplish this, she

Lord Rumwinkle hired a detective.

She left him and the gallery, and where she lived, and moved in with someone else, whom she liked less, but who was convenient. She had told no-one of her intention except Jennifer, and her only so that what she would divulge would prevent a police search which could reveal her whereabouts.


If one could live for fifteen hundred years in reasonably good health, one would no doubt, after a time, consider suicide every now and then. But de Nourcelles, whose black time it was, never did, though he felt he had lived that long after he had knocked down One Face and before it was found out that One Face was two-faced.

Bad news. Apparently my Nobel Prize project does not fit any of the Nobel categories, so it can’t be considered for it, never mind win. Why didn’t my lawyer, to whom I entrusted this business, let me know earlier? Perhaps I should not have consulted my convenience, and not taken the first person recommended to me, a real estate lawyer who I was told had a great reputation. The prearranged story-ending can consider itself discarded. I shall have to give a series of talks to further the "Nobel" project. Perhaps that will unearth a rich sponsor.

I gave my first talk, having of course to use highly evolved symbolism to disguise my true meaning and leave it invulnerable to interpretation to prevent a Watson and Crick on it, who are out to get a Nobel Prize one way or another, so I called it, "My Prize Reindeer," putting those I didn’t want to know about it off the scent while at the same time testing the innocent reactions of the general public. But it is safe to point out, as an example of my procedure, that this title describes my prizeworthy theories about heavy water and its expense. My introducer acknowledged the sparseness of the audience, all six of them, but tried to sweeten that bitter pill by describing it as select. I pointed out I was the one who should be introduced, not the audience, one of whom was a man with no expression on his face. Believing if I could get him to change his facial expression, I would achieve something, and learn something, I concentrated on looking at him as I was talking. Then eventually his face moved and still expressed nothing. There was also a person I remember nothing about, and a pair of twins who, when I finished, signaled each other with a look dismissing me, and never came again.

There were two persons who did not miss one of my talks. One would find the most comfortable chair and fall asleep in it at my first words. Her hat would assume an ever-increasing rakish angle till she woke with a start as soon as I had finished, re-adjusted her hat, looked round with a bright smile, commented to no-one in particular that I was as brilliant as ever, and favouring the room with a still brighter smile, would be the last to leave unless someone had determined to press their point on me and hang grimly on.

The other constant attender only came to show me I was wrong, silently expressed disgust at what I was saying, and varied it with a wedge of loathing now and again, and with pained surprise that raised his eyebrows to the heavens while his eyeballs rolled around in disbelief. Whenever I finished, he would stand up, shake his head in a disbelief that dismissed me altogether, and walk out without another glance at me. In the doorway he would pause suddenly and dramatically, and let his shoulders collapse and his chest cave in in total despair.


A trial occurred in which I was a witness for defendant philippe de Nourcelles and identified the plaintiff, one Face, who had been followed and videotaped going unaided to one of my readings. He had claimed complete incapacitation as a result of being knocked down by de Nourcelles’ car. He lost his case. The trial gave me a chance to air my own "Nobel" theories, which were deemed irrelevant to the matter at hand. I did get to point out that they were more important than the matter in hand. That was also deemed irrelevant.


"He, it is he," will, I hope, end my obsession with endings for this. I had a dream in which "he" was identified as the perpetrator of a terrible unknown deed. When I told de Nourcelles this, (he had become a friend as a result of the trial), he said that the he I was talking about was indeed a notorious benefactor of evil-doers, a fence, nay a bulwark, literally a paynim, without pay, a thief, one who —. Then I woke up, and had no idea who the he was. The point was that this was the ending of this story, the phrase "He, it is he."

When I told philippe (who in reality had become a friend) about this dream about him and the he, he smiled dreamily and said that he indeed knew one or two fences of stolen goods and had had recourse to one recently to help him establish the provenance and value of a rather strange painting that had come into his possession. I asked what was strange about it. He said it had strong sexual content. Our conversation ended with an appointment for me to see it.


Lord Rumwinkle and Philip Dearborn and Philippe de Messenger and philippe de Nourcelles and Polly and Jill and Uncle Tom Cobley and all. How’s that for an ending (to this story)?

Or: Betsy True-lung and Kai Lung and Jennifer and Harry and Uncle Tom Cobley and all.

They all went there and sat down and had dinner. None survived the meal.

The funerals were at St. James the Lesser. Then there was an argument about where the Greater was.

Nobody won, and they all went home.

But there was no home there! You can imagine their surprise.


But what about Philip? I don’t know. I’ve lost touch with him. I’ve searched everywhere.

He wasn’t in the caf� down some narrow steps into a small windowless basement where a few managed to subsist on cups of tea. The hunchback countess, whose hunch was accentuated by years of looking down into gutters where she had once found a wad of 700 one-pound banknotes, hadn’t seen him. King David, who never slept, and without a stop prophesied world doom and damnation pretty soon, and didn’t foam at the mouth, hadn’t seen him. Beautiful Cleria, dainty as a fine-boned racehorse, who walked alone along lone streets and wasn’t a prostitute, but was always on uppers or downers, and died later of an inoperable cancer at a very young age, hadn’t seen him. Clubfoot Jack, presiding on a stool near the counter at the Swiss, hadn’t seen him while he, Jack, was mulling over the eternal question of how to get moolah. Nor had the sweet-charactered Quebeckois when he wasn’t in a dead sleep after drinking the anodyne of alcohol to forget that the hard-earned money sent from home wasn’t enough for him to pay to study the mathematics it was sent to pay for. Nor had Stefan, who earned a living as a door-to-door salesman and did fleck at the mouth while explaining, at length, the intricacies of the latest up-and-coming German philosopher. Nor had the anarchist who voraciously read books through large glasses and had a mop of lank hair that had continually to be swept aside from them. Nor had the owner of the coffeehouse den whose denizens were poor, but where fashionably dressed young people came slumming to buy drugs from him. Nor had the servers at the declining Lyons caf�s Philip sometimes frequented, where they let you sit indefinitely for the price of a cup of tea and you could draw the other customers, who were so absorbed in their own thoughts and feelings and limited by their expectations, they didn’t notice. Nor had the brother of the poet to whom some of my theories were later wrongfully attributed. And not until... But that is another story.


Tea, and then he showed me the painting. I recognized it.


Lord Rumwinkle’s detective was a man, or a woman, I don’t know which. I don’t mean the detective was of indeterminate sex. He or she was definitely one or the other, nor had taken on the outer appurtenances of a man or a woman in a way that would confuse those who knew which they were themselves. But this person’s visible character was so nondescript as to make no impression on anyone, and was no sooner gone from a scene than forgotten, which of course was very useful at times for the detective, though Lord Rumwinkle had to check his own chequebook to see if he had merely imagined giving him a retainer in a daydream whose details, anchored at one end, waved in the wind at the other end and adhered to no-one.

The detective had another characteristic. Not so much a distrust of sources of information, as a drive to confirm them, which led from Rumwinkle countryside to London gallery owners and art historians and then to the more accessible collections of erotica. The detective’s visits to the last-mentioned left some of the people involved with them with memories of several vivid erotic encounters but no memory of the personality involved, and caused one or two to have more frequent sessions with their psychoanalysts, which led to nothing.

But he did establish that the missing painting was half of a diptych whose other half he now got to see. Someone had attached to it a long screed which began, "SEX WITH AND WITHOUT PLEASURE could be the name of this painting." There was a naked woman, erect and sandwiched between two naked men who had entered her from in front and behind. They had a martyred expression, and these men had each been entered by another man from behind and each of these by another. Their frenzied pushing was squashing her. A silent scream contorted her hurt body. Other naked men were running towards them, attracted like flies. Not far away, another woman, in the same situation, was enjoying it, and the head of one man was half-turned to the head of the man behind him and kissing it. In a corner of the picture, someone was flogging someone who had swooned away, and raging at the swooner was trying to bring consciousness back by increasing the fury of the lashing. Electrodes were on or in the private parts of others who looked as if all the parts of their bodies were trying to fly away from each other as the shocks were applied by bored men and women putting hamburger, or rice and beans, or fish and chips into their mouths with the hand that was free. There were other occurrences in the picture I have not the heart to write down, and the detective drew his belt tighter round his raincoat to combat the cold that entered him as he looked, and that was the only thing about the visitor remembered by the displayer who had enjoyed looking at the painting again and pointing out the contrasts of pleasure and pain between what might seem similar acts.

"Those who take it on themselves to prevent the corruption of others by censoring references to sex never claim to have themselves been corrupted by the materials they review and so rendered incapable of further reviewing," said one of the 18th century French Encyclopediasts, and compared them to a species of tree whose wood was harder than that of other trees — though why he did so, I no longer remember.


Ah, here is Philip! with a man whose pallor looks like the result of being a caf� for vampire bats and in great demand though closed at the moment, and who holds a large black furled umbrella which looks like a large exclamation mark now he has become famous though before that it was a mere slash. His father had never gone out in the changeable English weather without one, and that was why he had it with him though no rain had been predicted for that day. Better be prepared than regret it afterwards, was one of his mottoes. The man paid the bill, and the position of one of the empty plates shows Philip has been fed. The man walks away from Philip as though carrying out orders to walk fast, notice nothing, and yet avoid physical contact with anything, and above all don’t breathe fully. His lungs are on a leash, and he is breathing shallowly like water lapping a beach at low tide. It is his habit to live with this habit and not know it. Philip is now earning a living as an artist’s model.


"The abundance of horror" was the title of a lecture Philip did not go to. Instead he went to one called "The Temptation of Christ," but bored after a few minutes, he left and walked down the Strand and did not meet the poet Dylan Thomas whom he did not know. He kowtowed to a man in a yellow robe and rode cap-a-pie in a horse-coloured van, vanquished the Marquis of Queensbury, and stood on end a remarkable boy he met in a garage who told him the garage was an obsolete van that had been turned on end for fun by four boys who did not know the meaning of fear but went to a weather specialist who told them to beware the Ides of March.

After a time the crime was committed which they knew nothing about and an address was found whose foundation expired before the duration of two-and-twenty blackbirds who flew away enticing the master of Shrewsbury to enter a monastery or convent and do whatever he did to get expelled from a pipe that vented a hundred names in one go.

It was too much for the last gentleman who rode a bike into the wilderness and said to a cop, "Come here, and I’ll show you fear in a red rock under a red rock called white on white, and can you direct me to the Tower of Trebizond?" No-one answered, and said, "A free-floating fantasy is your heritage and don’t forget the coalman," so at once they went and heard a vender cut off the supplies of a cocktail’s ingredients to another vender who likened the event to a tender button he found on the back of a lady who jeered at him for not looking at the way he was going to the Himalayas who trusted him to forgo the fetishist who stood in his way in darkest Africa and told him to get off the bus at Piccadilly, which he did. This was the response of the Arab minister to a flight of birds who asked him the way to Kjem, a town or a lady with whom he was not familiar but who knew where the treasure was. This cost him a pretty penny surrounded by roses and a fart let off by the Earl of Essex who never came back for seven years and entitled the period "The lost years of a Pequod who did not remember his name," who all at once lost his shine and went off to Tripoli and tripped like a lark high up in the sky over a cloud that was harder than usual and cost sixpence a time, and never you mind, it won’t worry you when you wake up and find you are lost in an earthquake that has no meaning beyond the usual one that does not make sense if you are hired to destroy it and send the remains to Timbuctoo and hire a gardener to share all the views with you. Time floated out and time floated in and at last a machination awoke in the minds of the people that lasted five thousand years, then all was over, and they commenced again. "Good luck to you," said the man in the bowler hat, "I welcome you to my domain," and he went uphill and never came down again. Poor thing! I too loved and lived in Arcady, a posh place if you like shepherds and all floozies and zeppelins and uncountable stars the Count of Monte Cristo argued in favour of. "One or two more," he said, "and I’ll be satisfied," and he was. I never met a better man. I urged him to listen to the stars who were reminiscing one or four times on the floor of the harbour of Calais which was written on the heart of the last Queen of England (but one} to be called Elizabeth the Long-lived and determined to get better after a fall broke her bones which were not at all aware of the pains. "Good luck to you," I said, and I knew when I said it, immediately, it was the last time, so I went to Canterbury and woke up.

When Philip woke up he heard the confused voices of the passengers getting off the train at Canterbury, and got off there himself, to go to the art school there.


To Philip another model said he did not bring a g-string the first time he posed nude in a school as he thought the school supplied one freshly-laundered each day. But there wasn’t one in the curtained-off cubicle where he undressed and sat on the only thing in it, and waited to go on. When the teacher said, "Time, please," he did not come out, thinking that could be an order to someone to bring him one. But when it was said again, peremptorily, he decided he was the one being talked to and that the rules had been changed and it was no longer required. He walked out and the room became very quiet. He sat down on the platform and faced the students. A few moved noiselessly to a better vantage point. But all looked serious and worked assiduously because, he thought, it was an adult evening class, and they wanted to draw from the model, unlike younger daystudents who had to do subjects they didn’t like.

He peeped from his cubicle during the first break. Everyone was still drawing in silence, serious and absorbed. The teacher came and said to him in a low voice, "For God’s sake, if you value my job, put something on." So the rules had not changed, and they rigged up a g-string with a handkerchief and some string. Years later the teacher told him he thought he had an exhibitionist on his hands and dared not say anything to him while he was outside the cubicle in case it would provoke him, to do — God knows what. He had an image of himself running around in the room and stopping every now and again to make an obscene movement at a student.

And the first time he posed at an art school where male models posed nude despite the rules, and the students were not much younger than he was, he got a hard-on because he associated having sex with his being naked and near a young woman. Some of the women on seats had moved in very close and were steadily peering at him, eyes level with his cock. The thought, of having a public hard-on for almost eight hours, embarrassed him, especially as his cock wavered gently to and fro like a leaf in a light breeze, and wouldn’t go down. So he spent the next few hours struggling mentally to get it down, and sometimes he almost succeeded and then it shot up, but at last he succeeded.Then a terrible sweat overtook him at the thought that he might have succeeded too well and might never get it up again for the rest of his life, and yet he did not dare try to reverse the process till he left.

As soon as he left, his cock rose of its own accord and became so hard and insensitive he could have knocked a wall down with it. It stayed up so long that his new worry was it might not go down nor ever become sensitive again, but eventually it did.

One of the teachers there had a big Alsatian dog which furiously barked and hurled itself at him as far as its leash let it whenever it saw him. One day he was posing, quite nude, facing the door and about six feet from it, when it burst open with the dog, in mid-air, going open-mouthed for his genitalia. There was no time for him or anyone else to move, but he had time to think that the Pope’s castrato singers still wanted to live after the loss of their balls, and so did the Emperor’s eunuchs of China and he resigned himself to his fate, but when the dog reached him it just licked his crotch avidly. Perhaps it wanted the salt on his skin.

18, 19, 20.



Beyond the sea, there lived an old man and he had three daughters who were each lovelier than the others in some ways, so potential suitors had a hard time choosing among them unless they had a religion that encouraged the having of three wives, or more. The daughters had each been given a pet by their father. One had a magic cat who could do all sorts of things and juggle an amazing number of things all at once, one a dog so faithful he would rise from the grave if necessary, and one a cow who gave milk and honey.

One day the six of them were in the garden when a genie appeared, with a horse and carriage in one hand and a whip in the other. "Climb in," he said, "We’re in a hurry." So they climbed in as quick as they could and as soon as they had settled themselves the day grew pitch-dark and the genie moved so fast they clung like moths to whatever they could to stop themselves from tumbling out and they saw the horse in the one hand being lashed by the whip in the other and rearing and there was more and more lightning and suddenly they stopped and it was broad daylight again and they were in a valley surrounded by a wall of sheer cliffs. It was quite unlike the one they came from and there was no way out.

But walking on their hindlegs, silent animals provided them with exquisite vegetarian food, and hordes of insects trundled them delicious desserts though none with honey, and birds, why birds took the food from the plates and put it in their mouths, for the sisters weren’t allowed to serve themselves and, of course, there were no eggs. This went on for a month and a week and a day and an hour and a minute and a second and a nano-second, and then a big clock appeared and a voice said, "Now is the time!" and a little old man appeared, all gnarled and twisted with age, and with the loveliest eyes, and he said, "I must apologize for keeping you waiting." Then the birds sang a countertune, and then he said, "Welcome to Trivonia," and a cuckoo jumped out of the clock and whirred his wings and said, "Any questions?" and looked sharply to right and to left, and before they had time to think of one and ask it, he jumped in again backwards, and the little old man said, "Just before you arrived, I went down a mine at the bottom of which I found a pearl bigger than a football in a giant fossilized oyster — they were bigger in the old days — and there were little men down there who drilled through the oysters and rolled the pearls out and played marbles with them, and the one who won stamped on the floor with such joy that the roof of the tunnel caved in and I couldn’t get out till now. Know I am a connoisseur and collector, and so have brought you and your pets here."

"Many thanks," one sister replied. All three were renowned for their sarcasm.

"You compliment us above our deserts," said the one next to her.

"Is it too much to ask when we can go back home?" said the third.

"When I find women lovelier than you and pets more gifted than yours."

"Do not despond," she said to the others, and they prepared for a long stay.

Just then the sky darkened and lightened, and another genie arced out of the sky and fought with the first and neither prevailed, and more arrived, on both sides, and the green of the valley became black and blue with screeching hordes fighting and surging this way and that, and in the midst of the fighting one genie scooped them up and took them back home, for after all their father was no ordinary man either.

And the train Philip was on jerked and squealed to a stop and he woke up at its terminus in London.


But what about the cat and the dog and the cow? They’ve hardly been used. Don’t they use their special abilities to rescue the sisters from further dangers and finally turn into princes who will marry the sisters and live happily ever after in the approved fairy-tale fashion? Well, because they are no match for genies, they are reserved for further adventures in which the cow drowns enemies in a pond of its milk and delays their hounding footsteps on ground sticky with its honey, and the dog barks warnings even after it is dead, killed in their defence, and once even rises from the grave as an apparition with all its hairs on end, and frightens a watchman away so the sisters can escape from a clothmerchant’s warehouse in which they have been imprisoned in rolled-up rugs, and the cat, ah the cat, what an actor, swaggering one moment like Puss-in-boots, cuddlesome another like a ragdoll-with-not-a-worry-in-the-world in an enemy’s lap and in a moment transformed into a screeching whirring war-machine with seemingly infinite claws, and its juggling, ah! aah! when it has no more room in its sash and in its mouth for knives to fight with, which it often throws tremendous distances and hits the enemy with even before they appear over the horizon, it keeps about forty knives in the air in a whirling white arc while also juggling, say, a sofa covered with hairs it has shed and a table and chairs and pots and pans and a gorilla it has caught and leaving a gap in all that for the non-existent army of pacific Costa Rica, and leaving a gap there ’ why should I go on? It is all recorded in "The adventures of an unusual cat, written by himself on a laptop Macintosh apple in minute writing which can only be deciphered with the help of the Oxford English Dictionary one-volume-edition magnifying glass." However ...
it has been suggested, to me, that there is a disbalance in this description, between the deeds of the cat and the deeds of the cow, but this is accounted for by the modesty of the cow who refused to let me mention the number of numerous enemies and enemy matadors it gored to death and otherwise incapacitated while sparing their horses, and as for its tail, a lash from it was enough to send a tough enemy drinker from one end of a long bar to the other end where he, or she, as the case may be, ended up on their knees, too weak to stretch up a hand to a drink on the bar, and as for its hooves, in the heat of battle they had to be constantly shoed like a horse’s by twentyfive blacksmiths who had to be replaced by twentyfive more every five minutes else the hooves would have been worn out by the carnage they made, and each of its teats could squirt its contents with the speed of a bullet, but mercifully, so the recipients were only stunned as by a stun gun, albeit for a long time — and its ears, but I understand that information is still classified. Enough!

But now the dog is under-represented. Let it suffice to say that pitbulls who have been brought up to be vicious were as helpless as new-born puppies, compared to him when aroused, and his unwavering faithfulness to his owner the equivalent of churchfuls of the faithful, and his tail a truer pendulum of his feelings for her than the correctness of an atomic clock in telling the time, and his paws never paused in the pursuit of the enemy, and as an upright judge never accepts a bribe so he refused to be sidetracked by some enemy ruse which sent scores of rabbits and hares and foxes across his path to divert him. There’s more I could say on his behalf and that of the others, but you would think I am exaggerating, so I won’t say it.


A hundred Huntingdomshire huntsmen hung out at the haughty Hanoverian prince’s hopera, which was a proper bowlful of vowels and consonants, and they heard Giggly singing, and the audience laffing and ribbing and throwing oranges at little Nell, while the Prince of Wales sang in staffsetto and the quire of angels attended him in a hallo round his head, and the miracle of the viorgins brought loaves to the fishes who swam-swim-swum and a target appeared and got shot at. This was at the time that, when the last of the, entities, that loved a, brought a fatal whajamacallit back to the factory and blue it up. Hop on, my lovely, your calling, is here, wherein, two-and-twenty, and three more.

I can’t make head or tail of the above paragraph which I inherited from a great-uncle of mine who played Lear once in the provinces and Edward in the country. As you can see, or maybe not, I am trying to get back to my story. Philippe de Messenger took Lord Rumwinkle’s painting on consignment from de Nourcelles, but, knowing its provenance, kept it hidden in his gallery’s basement while he sought out a buyer. He also promised Philip a commission if he found a buyer, and when a nondescript man came into the gallery one day when Philip was in it and Philippe momentarily out, Philip suggested he look at the painting and that was how Rumwinkle’s detective found the painting. Philip was banned from the gallery for a while after this, de Messenger’s reputation took on a darker tinge, and de Nourcelles spent a short term in pokey, sent there by a sympathetic judge who said he could understand the temptation to make a quick bit of money in the light of the delay in the passing of a bill in the House of Commons intended to raise the pay of judges. He also praised Lord Rumwinkle’s high moral position in wishing to keep the painting to himself and preventing the possible contamination of minors of tender years who could have come in contact with it while it was at large.

But once the painting was re-installed in its rightful place, Lord Rumwinkle no longer felt as he had before its theft. Something was now missing in it for him and it did not occupy every cranny of his heart as before, and a vague ambition was born in him, and in the hope of resolving all this he sent for Philip whose part in the recovery of the painting the detective had explained to him, having also told him that Philip was in that line of things, and that he himself had bought two sketches Philip had produced from a pocket (the sketches were very small) while showing him the Rumwinkle painting. He then showed them to Rumwinkle who repeatedly declared he must have them. Filthy lucre was exchanged for filthy pictures. Let us now lay this chapter to rest.


What Rumwinkle had in mind, where it grew as if from a grain of sand in an oyster, was a pearl, an embellishment, a contrast maybe. He instructed Philip to make a painting, a companion piece, to be called Modern or Worldly Love, and to depict a young couple seated next to a much bigger seated woman whose legs were planted apart on the flooring that was vertical only to the eye and that upheld the three of them, all fully clothed like everyone else in the accelerating underground train they were on, and all sloping sideways except the big woman. Pressed against her other side was a woman sitting with her legs pressed together and the torso of a man unknown to her pressed against hers. People were pressed against each other from end to end of the train. Doesn’t pressured wood become coal? So, catering to the imaginative eye that sees while the eye blinks and is blind, Philip had transformed the wooden passengers, in the funereal carriage where the most pressure was, into rows of straphanging sardines fronted by seated ones, and all had fish-heads which looked alike and had faces like clocks, all showing the same time; and out of the mouths of a nostalgic few among them who had read "The rime of the ancient Mariner," bubbles, with words and musical notes in them, showed they were singing, "Water, water everywhere." Few of the people, and of those few some were what are called perverts, and naturally none of the sardines were getting pleasure out of being on the train. Carriage almost rested on carriage. Sometimes only parts of carriages, cut off by the rim of the painting, and the people were sometimes swerving the opposite way. Now and again the prong of a railway line appeared. But IT’S NOT TOO LATE, were the words at the top of an ad in every carriage. And each time, below the words was the picture of an almost empty bus. In it, above its seated fares, each one solitary, and each solitary like a lone outcrop of rock on a flat plain, an ad with jolly couples on a flat beach with no outcroppings. But below the lowest carriage was a beach where people under striped umbrellas inscribed with the names of hotels were complaining of the mosquitoes, of the heat, of wilted sandwiches, and of the children and each other. A man was objecting to the nudity of a year-old boy belonging to a young couple who at least did not look disgusted with each other. And this went on and on, with different groups, of all ages, in different places, in restaurants, in loudtalking bars, in houses without facades, in offices and factories, in cars and trucks, and in schools and jails and playgrounds, till the canvas was filled with hundreds and hundreds of unloving people interspersed, for contrast, with a loving few holding symbolic battery-run radiators in their hands. Lord Rumwinkle declared himself satisfied, and paid Philip handsomely. Philip immediately, to enlarge his experience which had been cramped for some time, ate an expensive meal out. It was too heavy and too rich. It made him feel ill for hours.

Then Rumwinkle had another idea. He wanted a painting of heavenly love. Philip did one in which people were not touching each other, and round each of whom a blanket had been rolled. Those who were wrapped were then bundled together as a couple separated by a thin plank of wood and were the recipients of loving energy streaming to and from each other and through the air from hands that were blessing them and from the leafy branches of trees and from old dogs resting with their eyes on them, and from meditating cats and from the greenness of grass and from the emanations of the habitations of goodness. And the couples who did not feel this streaming between them were separated, and sometimes found it with someone else. And each scene of the painting had the shape of a man or a woman nestling into each other like the parts of a jigsaw. There was also a corner with chunks of broken idols, and worshipped idols lining up to be broken by a two-handed engine, and they had the look of athletes, of politicians still haranguing from open mouths, of two-dimensional movie and theatre stars fragmenting like leaves on the ground, of a heap of swollen brains and swollen dicks and castrated remnants of vaginas, and of the breasts of the mastectomies of the Amazons, and of religious leaders on podiums whose upper halves alone were visible to their addressees while uttering in the various names of God their stern exhortations while squatting bare-arsed and shitting on cracked flagstones invaded by lichens and engraved with the name of God and various commandments; and among all the other appearances of fame, in a shady corner, books mouldering with damp, and broken 78s, and tangles and fragments of measuring tapes, and broken engines, and a miniature of the painting itself becoming illegible, and there was an empty space where the names and deeds of those who lived ten thousand years ago, or more, had mouldered to nothing. But strangest of all were the idol worshippers. All were on their knees and all were blind, even those with light magazines or weighty tomes in their hands. Some had ear trumpets. Some were snuffing dung. But most of them were hidden in darkness and hard to make out.

Rumwinkle was satisfied by the result, but he was still not satisfied. What does that mean? It meant that he thought Philip had made a picture of heavenly love, but he still wanted something more. Then the news broke in the papers that a painting had come to light that was the original third member of a triptych which Rumwinkle’s first painting and the one in the private collection formed part of. It too was of worldly love, but in it mostly couples, mostly male and female, were enjoying themselves, as were some coupling animals, and coupling snails. Hard on the heels of this discovery another painting, of heavenly love, by the same artist, came to light. It depicted the visible "love of God" in both its meanings, in a collage, of parts of works by Old Masters, spanning several centuries and styles in a widening gyre from its sunken centre, and there was much publicity in newspapers and on the radio about all four paintings now that the depictions in the never publicly shown first two (about which wild guesswork and wishful thinking took the place of knowledge) had gained some respectability under the aegis of the latter two, but there was no word of the two new Rumwinkle paintings as they were still unknown. And there the matter would have rested if it hadn’t been for the dancing girl on the bicycle. Do you remember her?

Let me introduce her formally. "This is Jill. And you are?" Let us now go where the patient are stretched out on chaise-longues like anesthetized coverlets. But we have time for one intervening chapter.


In the course of her Rumwinklean activities, Jill met Philip. Lord Rumwinkle, with one arm draped across Philip’s farther shoulder and with the other in a grand accepting gesture towards her, forgiving her for the theft done when she thought him dead, announced that the devil you know was better than the one you don’t, and topped that off with a "perhaps" followed by a wink directed very ostentatiously at Philip, a topping that was the result of long experience of putting a garnish on an utterance to make it more palatable.

I have to say this about the Nobel Prize and myself. That people who should know better are often misinformed about things and are often foolish about things close to their hearts. And as for my theory, if it’s wrong, well all theories are mortal, even the most long-lived, and I’m going to seal it in an envelope and put it away. Those talks in connection with it merely showed the futility of trying to make my concerns important to others who were looking for things to buttress their concerns, and what it all boils down to was a display of ego or greed, on my part and perhaps on theirs.

So Jill and Philip met and took to each other.

I have reopened the envelope several times.


"What I’m doing, for now, concerns only myself," said a man in answer to Jill. He preferred to be an interesting mystery rather than a limited fact and hoped to be pressed with more questions, "But you," he said to her, "you Rose of Sharon, what about... what about you?" They were at a Rumwinkle party. "A Rose of Sharon," mused Jill back at him, making a mystery of her response in order not to be outdone. Neither quite knew what a Rose of Sharon was, but it was the currency of the moment and therefore acceptable.

All gone, all gone, the meanings once familiar. The Alzheimer’s disease of the young. Not forgetfulness, but inability to incorporate the past in a fruitful way. But the past is now so distant, even the immediate past, that it seldom comes their way, and the universals of Bible, Spenser, Milton, Shakespeare, and the giant maltworm, Jonson, are seldom known now except to bigots and pedants. These thoughts passed through the mind of an elderly man who had overheard the exchange, and could have passed through the mind of an observant elderly woman had she been there, but she was listening to another couple nearby who each privately thanked their lucky stars they had both been to the Jackson Pollock exhibition at the Whitechapel Art Gallery and so had something to talk about, but their talk was cut short and ended by an excited young man who called them away to ’ but who knows and who cares? ’ because at that moment the arrival of refreshments was announced and there was a general rush in their direction, within the limits of dignity, because nobody ran, and some waited till they had asked and been told what to bring back with them for the other member or members of their group, for here at last was definiteness and not the vagueness of mere words and lack of satisfaction derived from a slight brushing acquaintance with somebody one is not interested in though there is satisfaction in coping with it, a multiform combination that the Honourable Betsy True-Lung, who was there, approved of, and now there was hope for the enjoyment that is expected from the employment of a clutch of the senses, and there was complete acceptance that the food was ready-to-eat, although it had no appetite, and complete acceptance that it did not require the labour of preparation, and there was also the acceptance that what was usually paid for was free and so permitted one’s thoughts to dwell on other things such as ’ but excuse me while I go into my own kitchen and myself eat something that I have paid for and cooked indifferently in my own kitchen which by the way is so small that if there were a window in it and my eyes began to protrude I would have to open it to make room for them. But who cares? Let’s go back to the party. Kai Lung was there, an up-and-coming poet of Chinese descent and no relative of Betsy though a distant forebearer of hers had been a missionary in China, and the similarity in names gave him a topic for conversation with her. She particularly wanted to know if his ancestors had been cannibals and whether it was advisable to invest in opium in the Hong Kong Stock Market. Kai Lung unrolled the mat of his imagination and told her of flying mao-tse-tungs in month-long spring Marches when the weather changed so abruptly and so quickly that anyone could see a hundred flowers growing up and being cut down and wilted into nothing, in that long short time, in no time at all, and of Shanghai cheques that were lost and found on Taiwan where the men wore pale ties, and of the curiosity of peeking ducks, and of the noodles that were longer than a man’s robe, and of the Grate Wall that grated intruders to bits, and of the Ming and Crosby dynasties, and of Madame butterflies that could sing, and of the Peking opera where girls sang in green rows like peas in a pod, and of the ravaging of Proserpine by an invading Hades so angry that even the cows and loons were killed, and of how quickgrowing rape covered the site of the desecration, and he would have said more if the bitter tea that was the general yen hadn’t made him screw his mouth shut tight, so that she went to talk with someone else.

And then Philip turned up after being a sardine in the underground, and Jill thought there was something fishy about him being so late for the party, but Philip told her it was only eau de cologne and not oil of sardine and they laughed and Betsy didn’t see anything finny about it at all but made a mental note to look up odour colon and Olav Sardine in her mother’s Encyclopedia Britannica. She had met an Olaf once and he was blond and she had fallen in love with him till he had impugned her knowledge of something or other and she had beaten him up and didn’t feel sorry for him after that and so knew she wasn’t in love with him any more. When his mother told him Betsy would be at the party they were going to go to, he refused to go, and when this refusal wasn’t accepted, he declared that facing death itself at his mother’s hands was far more preferable to being with Betsy and threw a tantrum and threw one of his mother’s valuable earrings down the doubleyou-cee while she was washing his face and was punished for it by being left at home with a pretty babysitter (whom he liked but years later was raped by somebody else) while his parents went to the party where they met Betsy (who two years later was to add "more terrible than death" to her humungous list of titles only to be divulged to the victims of her just revenges at their last moments, and who, some years later still, became one of the sweetest people you’d ever meet till she got married) who now expressed her heartfelt disappointment that he wasn’t there though she didn’t say she had been looking forward to inveigling him to be alone with her in a bathroom she could lock the door on so she could beat him up again to her heart’s content, but disappointed in this she looked for the cat who fortunately disliking so much company whose dangerous feet were unsteady with boozing, after a few narrow escapes and one blood-curdling yell when his tail was trodden on had disappeared through a half-open window into the night where Kai Lung was standing and composing poetry and against whose shoes and shins and hands the cat vigorously rubbed himself as if he were soaking wet and not prepared to leave till he was thoroughly dry at which hypothetical point he went off to compose himself on a tree-stump nearby.


Kai Lung ended his light poem with:

The black cat has made himself invisible in the black night
And because there is no yellow moon
     I too have turned black, and am hidden from sight,
And like being in the dark, as I like being
                         with the others
Who would never go into the dark
                 if they had their druthers.
From this dark to the light I can’t see in,
I’ll go in
         and lighten the burden for the cleaners
By eating what I prefer from what’s left by the leavers,
Though I can’t go so far as some I know
Who’ll take anything and pretend it’s intended to grow
Bigger vegetables or feed cats and dogs in a row.
Goodnight, yellow moon who isn’t there,
And may you bloom in another air.

He was blinded for a moment by the brightness of the light as he entered, and his tongue happily tripped and made the assonance of "light I" into the rhyme of "lie tie" while retaining the meaning of "light I," and the resultant sound of

From the dark to the lie tie can’t see in
I’ll go in

seemed preferable to him to the sound of

From the dark to the light I can’t see in
I’ll go in

though why I don’t know, but "That’s some of what poetry’s about," Kai thought, continuing to think about it.


Back inside, standing and munching quietly, he overheard someone saying, "We were sitting on the sofa and going over a scene, a Shakespeare scene, when I looked up at the window and saw my car slowly moving and my cat inside the car and standing up with his front paws on the front windscreen. ’My God,’ I said, ’He’s started the car,’ and I rushed out after it and it was going faster some way ahead of me and I lost sight of it when some parked vans hid it and then I got to the main road and the car had stopped and a pudgy young man with a short thick neck that had no waistline, as it were, between his head and shoulders was getting up or being helped up in front of it and someone was asking someone else a question and I said, ’It’s my car,’ and someone put a mike in front of my mouth and I had started to explain what had happened when I realized the cat was still in the car and might start it up at any moment and so I went and took him out of it. I was sued."

"Go on," someone else said, "I don’t believe it."

"Well, don’t you remember Edgar Allan Poe’s ’Instinct versus Reason’ about cats that could do extraordinary things?"

"Well yes, but..."

"Well, that’s my cat."

"Yes, he must be pretty long-lived. When’s his one hundredth birthday?"

"Oh you know what I mean."

"I know a lot of hogwash when I hear it."

"Look here, my young man —"

"You’re no older than me."

"Will you stop harping on age?"


"So this bloke I told you about was telling me a lot of hogwash about his cat driving his car —"

"And was he signaling when he turned corners?"

"Look, will you let me get on with it?"

"Of course, but I suppose you checked his driving license?"

"Look —"

"Now now, —"


"So Henry came in, and he was bleeding from a cut on his face, and I said to him, ’What happened? Who did that to you?’ And he said, ’A dog.’ ’A dog,’ I said. ’A dog. What d’you think? A dog or a cat. What difference does it make?’ I can tell you I began to think twice about marrying him.

So he said, ’A bloke hit me because of someone else’s cock-and-bull story about a cat driving all about town in a fur coat and marrying rich fellows.’

That’s when I called it off. And he can ring me till he’s sick in the face but I’m not going out with him again, and as for marrying, he can marry a brick wall and carry on with it and he can have a hundred yowling cats on it for all I care.

All right then, an hundred. Mildred, will you look it up? In the dictionary. All right then, in the encyclopedia. It’s over there. So it’s not in it. What does it matter?"


"So she got all snippy with me. Hello Kai, this is Philip. Is it ’a hundred’ or ’an hundred’?"

"I prefer the lady, but ’a hundred’ is right."

"Kai writes poetry, you know; and," turning to Kai, "Philip is a painter. I think I’ll leave you two to it. Do you know where the loo is?"


She found it at last, and pulled her knickers down, and the words, "Dogs do it," from one of Cole Porter’s songs about love-making came into her mind, and she thought how unsexy it was to piss when you’re all alone and how everybody probably thought you’d had your knickers down and exposed your bottom when you came out again though nobody said a word about it, but anyway, she knew they had exposed their pricks and probably held them up else why should they wash their hands, although why just touching them should require that, she didn’t know, unless of course they had pissed on their hands, but it was probably one of those rituals that have become meaningless but that everybody goes on doing, and would probably have been meaningful in the old days when one’s whole body got dirty and stayed that way for ages, though they didn’t know about germs in those days, but maybe that was what ritual washing was about, and then she pulled the chain and pulled up her knickers and adjusted her dress and checked her face and walked out, and smiled at Henry and knew what he was thinking, but really it wasn’t important, she thought, because it didn’t lead to anything.


He, on the other hand, felt blinded to everything else at the thought of her bare bottom, and was so startled when somebody spoke to him that he barely missed upsetting the cup of tea in his hand. Thank God it was only half full, else he’d have a real to-do sopping it up on himself with a handkerchief, and going around asking for a rag to sop it up on the floor. Why people weren’t more careful in addressing others was, he thought, beyond him. They ought to be taught things like that at school and not go around upsetting people. If he had his way he’d pull their pants down and give them six of the best, especially that ass there who was carrying on as if he’d done nothing. "I’ll show him," he thought, and walked up to him and interrupted him as he was talking to someone else, and said, "Excuse me, but wasn’t it something important you said to me just now?"

"I only asked you to excuse me. I couldn’t get past."

"Are you sure that’s all you said?"

"Yes, I believe so."

"You didn’t say, "Get out of the frigging way, you bugger, or I’ll knock your block off?"

"Hardly. I don’t use language like that."

"Oh you don’t, don’t you? Then take this, and that."

A couple of restraining arms were put round him from behind, and someone else said, "He’s had too much to drink, haven’t you, Henry?"

"Get your hands off of me, or I’ll —" but at that moment he vomited and passed out.


Rumwinkle was conspicuous by his absence. He had retired early into the room that contained his triptych and had fallen asleep in his armchair. Outside, the full tide of the party ebbed and eddied. His breathing became deeper and more regular. Ah no, you think I’m going to tell you what he dreamt. I’m going to tell you about his death. The Angel of Death stood by his bedside and put off Rumwinkle’s death for another five years as Rumwinkle’s niche in the otherworld was occupied and would not be freed up till then, but then he changed his mind and gave him an aneurism that polished him off there and then, and then began the most glorious part of Rumwinkle’s career. Having no permanent place of his own, he traveled near and far in the otherworld, and became its Marco Polo, whom, incidentally, he met, but that gentleman had long settled down.

I won’t bother you with the details of his travels, but one incident I must set down. The trouble is to get the details right. About his other travels, Rumwinkle was always open and affable. He was always glad to recount them to any questioner. He felt it was a way of repaying his numerous hosts who were more sedentary than he was. But on this one topic he was close-mouthed, and the details had to be screwed, as it were, out of him, one turn at a time. Of course, you may ask, how do I know? Well, shortly after his demise, I was translated to the other world myself, but only for a comparatively brief period, and acted as a sort of journalist. Then when I came back to earth, as a thirty-year-old to make up for lost time and with a complete and false personal history, just like some secret agents, the old amnesia trick that people have embedded in them when they are born again on earth, so that they don’t remember anything that happened to them before, didn’t work on me. It had been imperfectly implanted in me. What can I say? My society and investigative work while I was dead took me here and there, and since there was no TV as we know it, I performed a useful function, sieving out what was unimportant, and then sending out the rest directly from my brain to the brains of the others.


But I should first get back to the party. Nobody knew of Rumwinkle’s death. His door had been locked. And it wasn’t till noon the next day, when Jill had an appointment with him, that it was discovered. This time she did not take a painting.

However, people who had been at the party were questioned once it had been ascertained by the coroner that he, Rumwinkle, had died during it. This was routine, and nothing came of it. The Angel of Death had done a good job as usual of obliterating any signs of his presence, and a small feather that had dropped from one of his wings, his only mistake, was, if noticed, dismissed as a thing to be expected on a country estate, and was even put to Rumwinkle’s nostrils by the doctor, and watched to see if it stirred so that he would not again mislead anyone as to which state he was in, of life or of death, and indeed the coroner recommended that he shouldn’t be buried for another four days as so many cases had recently been recorded of people presumed dead arising on the third day (and this is not a matter for religious belief, he said) and finding themselves suffering from frostbite in over-cold morgues, and kicking up a hell of a shindy about it, and suing right and left for damages for mental and emotional suffering on finding themselves naked under a white sheet although the defence often pointed out that the evidence would show that the plaintiff was accustomed to sleeping in the nude, and as for the cold, that was a very subjective thing, and again evidence would be produced to show that the plaintiff had often fallen asleep in the nude and without a cover of any sort and had woken up in the small hours of the morning feeling cold and had only then covered up, whereas it was an inveterate rule in the morgue to place a sheet over every corpse and everybody whose behaviour led one to believe they were dead, if they weren’t already covered when they arrived, and indeed the plaintiff had asked a reliable witness three days before his so-called death if it wouldn’t be a lark to pretend to be dead and then scare the living daylights out of people by coming to life again when they were nearby and least expecting it.


Except for:

brreumm brreumm brreumm and took off

and cut the engine off and landed

this chapter was somehow lost by the computer. And it’s not the first time this has happened, and there should be a law compelling manufacturers to build in a safeguard against it, and have some cushioning put in so that if a computer falls off a table or one’s lap it won’t malfunction or stop working altogether, although of course they shouldn’t be liable for computers damaged or completely destroyed by a fall of several miles in a crashing plane, or off a sheer edge on Everest, or through being on a sister ship of the Titanic, especially as the small print on the warranty could make that clear, though they could supply an inexpensive magnifying glass with the warranty so there could be no doubt that every precaution had been taken, although I think it is going too far to suggest that these glasses should be bullet proof because of the rise in crime, although I realize that it is a cheaper solution than that entailed in cutting down crime, but it is one that will not protect the computer itself, nor indeed the computer-user who would be well-advised to play it safe by not using a computer at all.

It has been suggested that sharing a computer, with other computer-users of course, and not a pig, though I realize that to some computer-users some of the other users are the same, would lessen the risk of individual responsibility. I agree that this appears to be the case. However, when you are not using it, you are not responsible, and when you are, you are. To do away with this difficulty, it has been suggested that everybody in the computer pool share an equal amount of the cost of replacing or repairing the damaged computer, but this does not seem fair if some use it more than others. Why should I support a pig? And if, instead, the amount of co-payment is based on the amount of use, and the computer is damaged by someone who uses it less than others, why should the pig who uses it more pay more for the other fellow’s mistake. Well, there you have it.


No, I’ve nothing against pigs —
                 until they are penned in and grown,
fattened up and blown up (not explosively) like a rigid balloon    on
garbage not fit for a pig.
Their young are agile, curious, playful, and sensitive.


Lord Rumwinkle awoke from a deep sleep in the otherworld which he had been enjoying so much, and found himself in an unfamiliar other otherworld. He heard a voice, and looked all around and could not see where it came from, and it said, "You have been brought here to atone for your sins, manifold, and an eyesore to the spiritual sight of the Lord. You will do double duty as a coalminer in the lowest depths and as a dishwasher on the surface till 10,000 years have passed after which I shall send a planet off course to collide with the one you’re on now and obliterate everything, including you."

Lord Rumwinkle blanched, but his spirit was aroused, and he replied with some heat, "And who are you? Tell me the truth now."

The voice replied, in tones that had the sweetness of far-off bells in a long summer evening, "I have no choice but to tell you the truth every time you ask for it. I am a spirit whose body, when I had one, was much abused and denied its natural needs, consequently I now go around preaching doom and damnation to every living thing whose needs were provided for by the good Lord. And the more alive they are, the more I doom and damn them, compelled to by my fate."

"But surely I am not alive in the usual sense of having a body," quibbled Rumwinkle.

"No, but your spirit is alive, the spirit of Rumwinkle," answered the voice, and then made a sound as if it were blowing its nose.

Then they didn’t speak for half an hour, each engaged in thinking his own thoughts, and then Rumwinkle conceded, "And yet like the grass, we grow and are cut down, like the rose we bloom and fade away, like the young we grow old and die. That is our fate, when we have bodies."

And again there was silence.

But after a time, the other replied, in a tone like a hollow wind haunting a deserted house, "The beaches are rife with the remains of living organisms. Shells, empty shells."

"Speak for yourself," said Rumwinkle.

Apparently taking this to be an injunction to speak the truth, in a voice like the sigh of contentment of the wind after a perfect summer’s day, the voice said, "Okay, I give in," and once again Rumwinkle found himself back in the familiar otherworld, and knuckled away the sleepiness from his eyes.

Apparently this conversation had a great effect on Rumwinkle. And just as there are religious people who flaunt their views on the face of the world and are only content when doing so, so there are others who never divulge what they believe and so are thought to have no belief at all and in this respect Rumwinkle was one of them, but I did worm out of him that this conversation enlarged his views to include the inner experience of matters occult.


Captain John Stornaway, of the spaceship QRX 10011, gave a grunt. Did headquarters realize what was happening in sector 4E? Several worlds at the rim of the Empire had been destroyed with their trillions of human antlike panting inhabitants, and Terra, that bent decadent planet where it had all started didn’t give a damn. The thought of the enormity of it forced a second grunt from him. It left him with no alternative but to take a third action. Damn regulations, he wouldn’t let them know. Whoever the enemy was, he, Stornaway, would not let them get away with it without a fight. The line of his jaw tightened. He had a shrewd suspicion that it was the vampire spaceships which rumours coming from a few of the sparsely inhabited outer worlds had mentioned, although the informants were blodjajeck miners, blasted out of their minds with drink and persiffiquitl, and no-one in their right mind took any notice of their stories, or almost no-one. But one of the roads technology had gone along was to produce machines that used blood to circulate much needed nutrients to their sensitive inner walls, and what if some renegade machines had started to run out of it, some form of leukemia, and found an ample source on those destroyed planets? He wheeled round and barked a command in Alsatian and Pekingese: "4E." The engine began to purr like a cat as it revved up, and the computer’s mouse scurried silently and faultlessly across the navigation screen. Leaving the control room, the former All-American failed to duck his head enough under the tall transom, which was not built to accommodate semen, I mean he-men as large as he was, all whipcord under his corduroys, and he was groaning ruefully in a sort of sing-song when he ran full-tilt into Lieutenant Ann Kimberly who could barely keep from blushing ’ never having been so close to him before. She particularly admired the granite set of his jaw which the medics had given him when he lost his natural one in the battle against the Killgorms, fearsome creatures that looked like worms, and she liked his nostrils of carved ivory given him after the loss of his natural ones in that other battle against the awful creatures with the unpronounceable names and funny faces, and though her arms longed to embrace him she wasn’t sure if she could trust him not to throw her and her feelings for him away like an old rag. Fortunately her navy training stood her in good stead, and she managed a smart salute just in time. Had he noticed her? But she was now in control again and told herself she didn’t care, but some part of herself knew that if he enveloped her in his arms she would give in.


Remembering, the hologram singer sang in the Terran style of thousands of years ago:

Them be kisses
That are sweeter
Than the fishes
In the river.

Stornaway was an authority on the period, as well as on three dimensional chess, quiz-answers, and boot blacking. Just then, the intercom announced that His Excellency The Bulpington of Blup had arrived on schedule and craved an audience. The scanner indicated a hitherto unknown species, a man-bat, was with him and the man-bat’s mammoth pet, Man-moth. The Bulpington of Blup, also known as Ole Gorbelly, turned out to be even huger than the screen had promised. He had lived a life of self-loving luxury for so long that his long limbs just managed to protrude from the rolls of fat that enveloped him His good-humoured face could change in a moment to a mad killer’s and then back again as befitted a skilful entrepreneur. He reclined at his ease on a platform that floated and hovered in the air. He dwarfed his prot�g�, the man-bat, who stepped forward and greeted Stornaway by shrouding him in the cloak of the warm living membranes of his wings while his three arms, one out of his forehead, embraced Stornaway and his mouth laid a long kiss on the neck of Stornaway who could scarce keep from shuddering at the voluptuous feel of the lips and the tremulous probing of the tongue. On withdrawing, the man-bat gave a huge open-lipped grin to show he had no fangs and explained that man-bat ambassadors were expected to have them extracted as otherwise they would not be able to resist sucking the so delightful blood of the juicy humans he was to treat with. He bowed to Stornaway after making him this compliment, displaying the foot-long man-moth that clung to his back, his wings up and together, like the sail of a ship. In emergencies its powerful wings could help lift the man-bat and spirit him away.

Suddenly, the ship lurched. Under a cloak of invisibility, a vampire spaceship had approached and grappled and was now, with some difficulty chewing at the hull. The Bulpington of Blup was doffed and out of its centre emerged another man-bat. The ambassador suddenly revealed his retractable fangs. They both turned towards Stornaway. The next moment a lasergun spat out, and both the attackers were mere frizzles on the floor.

"Thanks, Ann," Stornaway said without looking round.

Would he never notice her, she wondered. But he was too busy making the time-warp apparatus function. He’d been tinkering with it for several years, and it was as ready as it ever would be. It had never been tested, and this was a good opportunity. With luck it would separate the two ships.

"Here goes," he thought, and yanked the lever. The American flag in the view tank grew brighter, and "Shimzham" they were somewhere else with a badly chewed hull, but alone. And where?

It so happened, that Rumwinkle was sitting in a garden having some of his afternoon tea, since there was so much that he kept pouring some on the flora within arm’s reach, when suddenly a spaceship with a badly chewed hull appeared before him.


The ship’s computer had indicated there were no life forms on the planet, because, of course, it wasn’t before the existence of otherworldly phenomena came into the ken of computers thousands of years later, that they became detectable. So Stornaway and Kimberly thought they were alone in the spring air. They stood looking at a vast expanse of green grass.

A vast ballroom. Blazing chandeliers. Swirl of white dresses awhirl in a waltz. Faces upraised to their taller partners.

A shadowy balcony. Faces still flushed from the dance, Ann and John alone in each other’s arms.

"I now pronounce you man and wife."

Before it could get to the honeymoon, Ann’s reverie was interrupted by a bone-crushing hug from Stornaway.

"I’ve been wanting to do this for a long time," he said. The grass waved in a gentle breeze.


Tea again. Brr. The weather cold as horsefeathers. Brr. London dull as ditchwater. The light visible, but evening about to close in all day. December 4.

Jill and Philip still in bed.


Jill and Philip still in bed. December 7. Remnants of several meals on precariously stacked plates on the floor. Weather still lousy. Disheartening. Seeping into one’s bones.

Jill due at twelve to interview for a job as a stripper at the first strip club to open in Soho. It’s success will lead to a sudden rash of them there. It’s on the site of a small avant-garde theatre which finally went under after putting on the first production of Jarry’s Pere Ubu in Britain fifty years or so after it was written. The day I went, I was the only one in the audience at the brave but poorly performed show. Someone no doubt said, "Well if that’s what the great British theatre-going public doesn’t want, let’s give them something they do want. Brr." But it didn’t want that either. Instead a great British non-theatre-going public wanted it. Brr.


After a little more travel, the ghost of Lord Rumwinkle — accompanied by Kimberly and Stornaway who were unaware of him, as was everyone else sparsely seated and standing in The Ubu Lagoon, the strip club in which Jill was working — fondled an invisible cocktail, and the others had a champagne which a French vintner had tasted and spat out and, rolling his eyes in wonder, had pronounced "Merde" and ordered to be shipped to England at a specially low price. It was a concoction that his son-in-law, who did not like him, had made up in the hope of ruining his digestion. The vilest of all other drinks was heavenly compared to it. If drunk by Thor, that god would have hit his thumb several times and finally laid his hammer aside in disgust. And Jupiter would have dropped his thunderbolt from nerveless hands like a hot potato on his own toes till he was tired of it, and the Greek gods would have lasted no time at all had they had this champagne at the beginning of their reign, or had had it served to them for the first time later on when it would have led them to shorten the Trojan war from ten years to a few days, so that they could attend to the resultant ailments, and instead of the " The Iliad" And "The Odyssey," Homer would have had to write poems called "The Ill" and "The Odd," and also all the male Greek gods would have given birth to many more goddesses out of aching brows, though this sort of parthenogenesis has been adequately explained by Immanuel Velikovsky without the use of drink.

But, like a blas� man of the world, I have been going on as if there were no butts to be looked at, no protrusion of breasts, no bodies on stage, no buttes or sportive buttinskis in America, nobbut nothing at all. And indeed it was hard to see through the cigarette smoke and the sort of twilight of the Gods which was favoured in this establishment as an enhancement to romance and a dark gloss over any fault in the appearance of the performers.

An invisible announcer named the next performer and confined himself to adjectives like "colossal" and "pulchritudinous," and to phrases like "straight from her success in Las Vegas" and "star of the Poodle Ranch in Nevada," which were a tribute to the average Englishman’s knowledge of American geography. And he asked them to welcome her and give her a hand. But before there was time to decide whose hand to give her, there was some desultory clapping, and then a deepening too-long silence till a record came on, loud and fuzzy and urgent, and the girl came out of one of the black-curtained wings and she was a human being made of flesh and blood and wearing clothes easy to remove, and moved forward swaying slowly, promising, promising, promising what one wanted, and discarding piece after piece of clothing till only a g-string remained and after a few more undulations the brighter of the dim lights went off and after a blink she could barely be seen stooping to pick up her clothes and the money thrown on the stage, and straightening and walking off to no music and a few handclaps from the customers who now had no hope of getting the sex they wanted from her, but whose infinite stock of hope could be applied to the next one to come out, who looked different, and yet led to the same result, though no doubt someone in the audience knew the next move to make.


         FYEO.          For your eyes only.

             See below.

[Excerpt from letter 1.].

Gabble gabble gabble, blah blah blah. I’m fed up with this story.              (signed) Voinov.

Part Two.


I’m no longer fed up. (signed) Voinov.


[Excerpts from letter 3.]

They went

two of, became Voinov,


On a corner where seven streets crossed each other, philippe de Nourcelles stood, trying to decide what to do. Whether to go this way, or that, or some other way. He was pretty aimless. It didn’t seem to matter what he would do. Nothing interested him any more. He shifted from one foot to another.

A honking car stopped close to him, and after one final honk, a man, and a woman dressed to the tees, got out and walked past him, not without a covert glance from the woman. They went into a nearby shop. So philippe did too, and pretending to look over the knick-knacks on display on dressers and tables, took a sidelong interest in the couple who were appraising a china statuette the woman was holding in one gloved hand. The man appeared undecided whether to buy it or not. Sensing an opportunity, de Nourcelles approached them. The shop cat stopped in front of him and looked up expectantly. He picked it up and after giving it a few slow strokes while it hung down like a piece of dead fur from both sides of his hand and purred, offered it to the woman, who declined with a smile. The man, who did not like any of this, watched him closely. And that was all that happened.


That night, philippe had the strangest dream. He was in a large department store. A large section of it is closed off with terrible threats to anyone remaining in it. His uncowed sister insists on going back up the lift to collect a bag she had forgotten to take. His brother in law and philippe wait for her. Many others are there, waiting. They hear a woman’s voice screaming down the lift shaft. Soon after, a fair-haired blue-eyed baby appears, perhaps a year and a half old, and chunky and fearless and frequently smiling, having climbed down the side of the shaft. Its torso, though completely human in its make up, is hexagonal, with a large hole in the middle, reminding one of a nut a screw is put through. Soon after, another child, hexagonal also, as lively and bright as the first, arrives. It has a bright cobalt color. It occurs to philippe that the screamer they heard may not have been his sister, but the mother bewailing her loss of the first child that appeared.

The next night he dreamed he was walking in a hospital he was familiar with, and came to a group of people. One was a large woman who had the form of a slug. There were some smaller people, all perhaps parents. There was a group of perhaps five children, one and a half to two and a half years old, some had perhaps been knocked against the wall behind them. They were silent and unmoving, transfixed out of fear and hopelessness. They were being given orders by a male doctor. As philippe came up someone there said to the doctor, "That’s enough, doctor," evidently afraid of what else would happen to the children if he went on doing what he was doing. He stopped. To encourage him to give him information so he could report him to the hospital authorities or the Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Children, philippe said, "I know someone you could help. What is your name?" Unafraid of philippe but evasive, after a pause for thought, he replied in the same voice as the one he had given orders in, "Lane the First." philippe knew this was a lie, but didn’t know what he should do next. Then everyone except philippe disappeared behind a door in the wall behind them. It was eventually opened and someone put some garbage out. philippe stopped it from closing and with main force pushed it back, afraid all the time that he would find that people behind it were pushing against him and once freed up would attack him, but there weren’t any. It was the door to an empty passage hundreds of feet long and he knew then that the children he had seen were the iceberglike tip of hundreds that had been in the passage, being tortured in the same way. Some would obtain positions of power when they grew up, and would be controllable by those who had conditioned them. One would have to free the children from their traumas to stop the control.

There’s a gramophone in a darkened room. Attached to opposite sides of it, two rounded sleeves formerly on a woman’s dress are flying in the wind from a fan, and absorbing all the sounds it was supposed to be recording and sending out. Finally, the process is reversed, and the woman there hears her liberated songs, for which she was never paid as promised. The room is lit again. The evildoers have left.

Suddenly the world changed though it remained globular. It was smaller and elastic and dark beyond its edges. philippe took seven steps away from the security of what he knew and managed to return, which made him glad. The world would expand around him to make room for anything he wanted. Certain things could not be changed so he was glad to tell someone who sometimes smoked a pipe that he, philippe, owned that rarity, two bank accounts, having accidentally obtained the second shortly before the shrinking which, by the way, had left only some thousands of people on earth and no sign of the others. In addition to his native language he also suddenly had a mastery of Chinese without having had to learn it, which was useful when he needed to speak to the hundreds of farflung Chinese that remained on earth. He was on some sort of battleship though it did not move, there being no more sea. He was happy, and more at ease than most of the people he met.

He makes a difficult journey on behalf of some Chinese businessmen, and gets 25% of the proceeds. They ask him how it was and he tells them he was robbed but got it back. This encourages some Indians from India, with much more at stake, to consider him for a project of theirs that also involves extensive travel.

In south-east Europe, a group of younger adolescent boys on a cultural trip, "Getting to know our neighbours," are being led by teachers from various countries. 60,000 pounds in cash available, but not to be used to make things. Things exist already fully-made, such as a cinema they will visit in one country, a dam in another, an operahouse in another, and so on. They are to stage something at the end of their journey that will symbolize what they have learnt. One teacher-provocateur sent 400 pounds to give as an ostensible prize but really to make division and trouble. That failed. Another 400 sent by him.

Sobered by the intensity of these dreams, philippe would stir his morning coffee, and drink it abstractedly. He went about like a man in a dream.

He walked a lot.

Once a pillarbox surged on his sight, and he noticed how red it was. Most of the time he was like a sure-footed blind man who knows every bit of his route and avoids every obstacle. He passed and did not see Philip and Jill who were too engaged with each other to see anyone else. Another day, he passed and did not see de Messenger who was walking along with his hands clasped behind his back and, musing with his eyes on the pavement, did not see him either.

Back in his small fashionable flat, he would sit for hours without moving. He knew something was wrong with him, but could only exist in it. He could not think about it. When he tried to, it was like prolonging an unseeing stare.

Over a cup of coffee, a friendly acquaintance, momentarily concerned, urged him to see a doctor. He could not redirect his energy to change his daily routine and see one, though he recognized the advisability of doing so. He spent hours, returning again and again to the thought that he should do so. Finally he took to his bed, and only got up when he had to.

He got no pleasure out of anything.

But, after some weeks of this, a slice of spring sunshine coming through his window made a bright shape on the floor. It interested him. He noticed that it interested him. From then on, with smaller and smaller intermissions, he got better, till he was his old bad self again.


The Rumwinkle auction took place in the early autumn. Sodden leaves covered the grounds. Spinning and whining, arriving wheels had churned the lawns designated for parking, into a welter of muddy ruts. The cloakroom reeked of dank coats. There was a hilarity in the air, fueled no doubt by the red wine on a nearby sidetable. The jovial ghost of Rumwinkle, ensconced in an amply-backed chair in a shadowy nook apart from the other visitors, appeared to preside, observing all and observed by none.

The trustees of the estate had kept the cook and the butler on for this final event. In the early hours of this last day, both took stock of their lives and their experiences. The butler felt the hollowness of this world more than usual, and the visible misery his eyes were steeped in reflected the pain felt by his body in recent months. The cook, however, exhorted him to look on the bright side: Rumwinkle had left each of them a tidy sum predicated on the sale of his estate. But the butler was not having any. Bright side or not, he felt miserable, and not all the rosiness in the world could change that. Indeed, what was that rosiness but a cover-up for a world gone bad, like the colours of the leaves prostrate on the grounds that, after this day, were no more to be surveyed and enjoyed, looked at out of a window, over one’s first cup of morning tea, now that he thought of it, aptly named "mourning tea." He was ready to depart, he declared, not only from this estate, but from the world. The cook laughed, brushing the thought aside, and gave him another plateful of lavishly buttered toast. But he had no heart for it, and to show her that, left one piece uneaten, which convinced her that something was really wrong with him and, as she usually did when again taking up the pursuit of her duties, abruptly turned away from him, but this time she angrily rubbed away with her apron the tears starting from her eyes, and scolded herself for betraying her weakness which, she thought, at best could do no good; and perhaps the tears were for her too, and even for Lord Rumwinkle, who could no longer bustle about, as she could still do, but had to stay still, and put up with it. But she cheered up when she remembered that her lawyer relative was one of the estate’s trustees and that two girls would soon arrive to help prepare the refreshments for the visitors who would be arriving later.

That was how matters stood in this great house when the first arrivals came. There were no dogs to greet them when they arrived. The dogs had been disposed of. Silky hair and soft eyes seldom seen even when Lord Rumwinkle was around, as he had a terrible allergy to them, and they had been fed in their kennels by the cook, and exercised on the grounds by the butler.

Loss, loss. Where on earth had he put the car key, asked the first comer, who had just had it in his hand — and found it sticking out between the fingers of the glove on his other hand. Loss. The second comer surveyed the dent he had just made in his own car but not in the car he had just hit. Loss, more loss. A fashionable lady with a veil over her eyes had just ripped it off her hat while adjusting it when the car driven by her husband to his immediate loss of peace made an unexpected swerve. "Loss, loss," the circling rooks clamoured at being made to desert their roosting-places by the threatening noise of gear-changes, and dispersed at the loud reports from one or two mufflers and slowly ebbed in again as the hardened owners of those mufflers got out hoping to make a valuable find that was unrecognized and cheap and that would restore their fortunes. The Honourable Betsy True-Lung, now proud of her title, resented the loss of it on being introduced to someone merely as Betsy True-Lung and felt her day completely spoiled when she couldn’t find the cat. He, poor thing, had not long survived his owner. O elegies, composed at various times and in various climes, bring your forces together and bewail the effects of the loss of Lord Rumwinkle, who in his way had done good in the world, and nowadays often had a pipe and a drink with Rabelais and Urquahart and Cleland, and down with all spoilsports and impeachers of morals. Here’s to him in his own red wine!

Jill arrived with Philip, and as the day wore on and the bidding grew brisker and the bottles emptier, felt an inclination to go on the auctioneer’s platform and strip as an expression of her openness and of the desirability for honesty in the world’s transactions, and in an unguarded moment, when Philip was turned aside in chat with someone whose eyes left Philip’s whenever they could to linger on her, did get up on the platform but only managed to bare her breasts before she was wrestled down, though not before the bidding, now thought to be for her, suddenly took on a new fervour and reached unprecedented heights. The auctioneer now thought it a good time to bring forth the most famous of the Rumwinkle paintings, and announced that item number 70 would be next. A hush descended on the audience, and as it was held up for display by two normally poker-faced assistants who couldn’t help smirking, the cameras of the press went off, and the man on the spot discretely told the microphone what was happening and for a few minutes faces all over Britain turned to the wirelesses that had been playing for hours with hardly a glance directed at them.

I shall not describe the bidding. It was bold and various, with a touched nose, raised eyebrows, several nods, raised index fingers, a scratching at an earhole, mistakenly taken for a bid which was nullified by the next bid, a wink or two, two twists of one side of a mouth, a lock of hair that had been plastered down with water and embarrassingly sprang up when the price had become astronomical but not yet final, and the desperate attempt to lay it flat again which sent the price still higher, two hats that had been put on when their owners had stopped bidding and were preparing to leave defeated, as well as sedate catalogues that rose and fell with the reliability of pistons. It was bought by a government gallery whose curator in his enthusiasm immediately proclaimed it a national treasure, but later, after a public outcry and banner headlines in the tabloids about dirty pictures and questions in Parliament, was discreetly retired at the first opportunity, and it was quietly sold to the secret owner, of the second painting in the triptych, who went into such a paroxysm of pleasure at entering into possession of it that he died of it, and the painting had to be sold again, to a Japanese business man, an astute precursor of the later Japanese invasion of the art market, who had it brought in and displayed to dinner guests he wanted to impress. With impassive faces, they eagerly and dutifully and closely examined every inch of it, before complimenting him, and he prospered mightily.

Again dusk closed down, on the ancient elms to which the last belated rook was winging his way, and on the drawn-down blinds of the empty house and on the FOR SALE sign that was put up as the butler and cook were leaving, and who were now far away, sharing a taxi on the way to a miserable Bed and Breakfast before leaving in the morning for their separate destinations.

De Nourcelles, for whom the auction had been uneventful, did however have fun with a choirboy whom he met on the grounds, and promised to write, but never did for fear of blackmail, and indeed the boy was later involved with a member of Parliament who he blackmailed at a time when the sexual peccadilloes of members were popping up with such frequency that they became the daily manna of journalists and a staple for the courts. The judges took their own roles and strange lifestyles for granted.


A few consecutive entries excerpted from Philippe de Messenger’s diary:

Hiroshiru wants Philip’s pen-and-inks. How much will he fork out? Inscrutable. Bought a new tie. Supper with Jennifer. Hardly recognized Polly. Nothing to say to her. Said nothing. Wanked off. Very good.

Bought a suit. Paid off several debts. Especially to that nasty.... Wanked off. Not so good. Had another go. Worse.

Bought myself a coat and accessories. Jennifer burst her appendix. Wanked off. Terrible.

Visited Jennifer in hospital. Ugh. Bought cruise ticket. Passing taxi spatters trousers. Took his number. Will call him from a telephone booth and threaten him. Wanked off. Consider giving it up.

Glad I didn’t. Funeral in two days. Checked myself in mirror and look well.

Philip grateful. Says he’s sad about Jennifer. Why? Wanked off.

Hard to replace. Leo said I look spiffing. Asks for raise.

Fire Leo. Hire Polly. Look for new accountant. Wanked off three times.

Took the day off.


"Grr," says the dog, framed by a wooden shed with a round moon above it.

Ann Kimberly possibly, so minute is she on the vast lawn. Her shadow gets wider and wider as it recedes from her and goes up the wall. She is standing quite still.

She has thrown something towards the dog.

It’s in the air and looks like a lump of meat.

The dog is eating it.

He has lain down with his paws in front of him and is taking a snooze. The fence is still behind him and the moon a little lower and more to one side.

Ann is scaling the wall. The vast lawn is now empty.

The moon is yellow in the black sky and the wall looks as if it had never been climbed.

A garden with trees. Ann in a corner.

The curve: of a treetrunk and an archipelago of three statues and the top parts of the plinths they’re on: Love, a cupid with a bow and arrow, a stricken faun.

The flower of a sunflower. So near, the eye can’t take it all in.

Ann sweeping past the flower, the trunk, and the statues.

Part of a building with a row of very big double-door-like dark windows growing in size like the keys of a xylophone.

Ann’s shadow flaring out and darkening it.

A window lock.

The lock being picked by gloved hands.

Ann’s dark form slipping through the opening.

A broadening flashlight beam picking out a painting in an ornate frame on a wall next to a desk.

The painting between Ann’s hands.

The door of a safe on the wall where the painting had hidden it.

The lock being picked.

A bundle of papers in the safe.

The papers being secreted on Ann’s busty slim form.

She’s slipping out of the window.

Her silhouette, on the wall. The moon is in the corner, between her and the wall.

Ann? Minute again on the lawn.

The dog, waking up but still in the same place and posture as when he fell asleep. The shed, in the same position it was in when he fell asleep.

Relinquishing its lurid colours with a reluctant sigh, George Brown, a. k. a. Rumwinkle’s detective, put the American comicbook down on the table, read its title again: "Time Voyagers," and lifted the teapot thoughtfully.

So Voinov was at it again. The Russian envoy had been in the papers recently as the suspected recipient of British state secrets. Of course, smiling his charming youthful smile, he had denied it to the reporters waiting on the embassy steps he had gone out on, with a glass of vodka in his hand, to take a break from the crush of the reception inside for some newly accredited ambassadors from other countries.


Brown had been drawn into what was to become known as the Voinov Affair, when he finally picked up a sheet of paper that, he had noticed, had been lying around for some time on the street outside his office. He was about to roll it into a spill to light the gas that took a long time to reach the gas-ring after it was turned on to heat the teawater, when some handwriting on the sheet happened to catch his eye.

The words, on the left-hand side of the sheet, were:

two of, became Voinov

and separately above them the two lines:

Ble They went

There was also a brown spot, of what could have been blood, on the upper left-hand corner.

I cannot tell you how Brown deciphered most of the invisible words on the page. I’ve often enough read descriptions about making invisible ink visible, of controlled charring of the paper, of using ultraviolet light, or some other method, but I’ve never remembered the how of it, and don’t know which method Brown used, but he came up with the words.

The gist of what they said was that Voinov via a chain of hard-to-trace agents paid the American who wrote and illustrated the stories of "Time Voyagers" to put in certain characters and events and colours in them. This was not hard for the American to do, and though he didn’t know why his contact wanted this, he was paid so well and promptly, that he did it, without holding out for answers to his initial questions about the other’s motives, and without asking more questions later.

The lead characters in the comic book represented certain very active agents of Voinov, and whenever he wanted one of them to do a certain thing, that character appeared in the next episode doing something such as opening a safe and stealing its contents or killing off vampire man-bats who of course represented something more earthy according to the codebooks of the agents who were such regular customers at the newspaper kiosks on various corners. An action that needed to be postponed, always had a shut door within the beginning of an episode. The combination of certain colours indicated the timing of the events, black and yellow for midnight, and so on. MI 1 through 10 and CIA and FBI agents weren’t in the habit of reading comics at that time. Now they have whole departments devoted to it, heads glued to the printed matter, thanks to comrade Voinov.

As for the words and letters that weren’t invisible on that Rosetta Stone of a sheet when he found it, Brown theorized that someone had started to make the words visible and was stopped by violent means before more than a few letters had appeared. But he had got no further than that when a distraught not quite young but quite fashionably dressed woman appeared the next morning with a cock-and-bull story about having dropped a letter of sentimental value outside his office. She was very attractive, and a faint smell of perfume clung about her.

Although a teetotaler, ever since seeing a herd of pink elephants stampeding straight at him with outstretched ears during his last drinking bout, Brown kept a waterfilled bottle with a vodka label on it for appearance’s sake, and would only have shaved once every three days to give an impression of desperation and toughness and unconventionality if the stubble wouldn’t have made him more memorable. He found it more useful to melt into the background, and as we know, often left people staring at a wall or a street corner with a puzzled look.

He now uncorked the bottle and took a swig from it, and wiping its mouth with a dirty handkerchief offered the bottle to the woman, knowing full well she would refuse it out of fastidiousness, which she did. However his apparent proneness to booze led her to think she had found the right man, as he had hoped, and she offered him the vast sum of ten thousand pounds if he would recover the letter.

He asked if it had enormous sentimental value to anyone else, and she said it had, but she deserved it more, and came up very close to him, and for a moment he was tempted to kiss her, but, instead, he said, "Give me the rest of the day to think it over, and I’ll call you in the morning."

He needed that day to get used to the idea of working again, and to put his head in the proper frame of mind for it.

He wasn’t given that long.

Minutes after she left, reluctantly; the door crashed open and a midget burst in followed by a burly man who looked like an ex-bruiser. The midget stretched out his arms horizontally from the shoulder and pointed the gun he held with both hands at Brown’s groin.

"Easy with that," said Brown, moving forward slowly and evenly.

The midget got very excited, and Brown stopped moving.

"We know you’ve got it. We gave you a chance," the midget said.

"Got what?" Brown asked coolly.

"Veronique’s ten thousand, and the letter- it’s got sentimental value."

"Since when has a stoat like you got sentimental values? I doubt if even your mother had any for you." Though not true, both sentences were provocative.

The midget got excited again.

"He wants me to plug him," he said, moving his head slightly sideways towards the man behind him. "Get him."

Brown lunged and knocked the gun out of the midget’s hand and stooped to grab it.There was an explosion of pain and multicoloured lights in his head and then he was plunging down and down in darkness and then there was nothing.

He came-to on a mattress on an iron bedstead in a white room. There was a carton of milk and a lettuce head and a bottle of citrus juice and a thing to pee in on a tray. His head felt like a doormat that was being trodden on all the time. A white-coated nurse came in and mounted him. She had nothing under the coat, and though she tried to coax his penis into her hole, he wasn’t up to much. She got off and rearranged the things on the tray. A man in a white coat came in, looked around, and went out, and then a very thin man came in. He said, "I want the money and the letter."

"Go to hell, if you’re not there already," Brown said.

At a gesture from the thin man, the nurse opened the door and someone pushed in the perfumed woman who had been to see Brown.

"She’s told us everything," he said.

"Oh she has, has she?" Brown sneered. "And I suppose she told you I have what you want."

"Someone saw you pick it up in the street. Never mind who. But we also want the money."

The long and short of it was: Veronique worked for MI5 with an agent who as a result of the fictional character based on him we nicknamed Bond and who carried out a spectacular rescue of Brown and Veronique (film rights reserved) in the nick of time and saved them from a fate worse than death. Because we all die, but it’s the other stuff that makes it worse. All the others worked for Voinov and he had to leave the country. I’m telling you all this in a hurry, because I have other fish to fry.


The renowned author of "The Compleat Angler," which I have never read, (for how can one read everything?) once said — but what he said is neither here nor there, for here comes Philip Dearborn, fifty years older, a time traveler himself, looking at the fish in the Brighton Aquarium and remembering how he once considered breaking the glass at the top in order to snatch one to eat when he was desperately hungry in his youth. He didn’t, and the more honour to him for that.

And here, coming from the opposite direction am I. He cuts me. Whether out of hate of me, or out of habit, I don’t know. It’s over that Jill business, which wasn’t her fault, or mine, and I told him so, and that estranged us.

Just gossip, gossip. It’s time I took a break. I’m going to sit down here.

Part Three.


Who is that woman wearing dark glasses and leaning on a table-top and looking with interest at what’s going on? It’s Polly, who was ten years younger when we last saw her.

Now she’s walking along a hotel corridor to her room and holding a man’s penis in her hand. The penis is of course not out on a jaunt all on its owny-o. (Missing penis. Reward for information leading to recovery of same. Last seen in Regents Park. Distinguishing characteristics: young and tender, broad and short. Answers to name of Alfie. Address all replies to Missing Penis Bureau, Box 246, London, N.1.) On the contrary, it is attached to a young man who has two fingers in her jeans and up her wet cunt, for whatever else she is, she is not a "Rube Alkali," an Arabian desert, a bunch of empty quarters; but yes, she is, she will admit, a demi-mondaine, and has found a new way of earning a living for herself, preferring a frequent change of employers to being supported by one only, a oneness she had tried once only, for five or six months, and then divorced. The white scut of a frightened rabbit could not have disappeared any faster than she did from that marriage. But it was a case of from the frying-pan into the fire, though she wouldn’t admit it till after; and even while being a prostitute she was trying to think of a way she could accept as a way out of it. No luck yet, not for a time.

But when an aunt died and left her enough to be independent, she chose to set up as the madame of a brothel, and that she enjoyed: the ordering about of the girls, the feeling that she was being their friend and showing them the ropes and giving them opportunities, the respect she earned from them and some of her wealthier clientele, and the fact, as it seemed to her, that she was different from most girls in the profession and most women and men not in it, in not being a victim, of circumstance and character.

Well, was anything missing from her life? Well yes, but it was missing as much, if not more, from those looking down on her.


Saints don’t grow on trees, or else there’d be more of them. But how Rumwinkle became one is one of the Greater Mysteries. It happened like this.

His former cook was walking along the promenade of the seaside town in which she had a large room in a dilapidated hotel. She had not been feeling well for some days, and believed she was in a decline from which she might not recover, as the butler had visibly been in, when he had visited her recently and could no longer walk very far, so that she would take one very slow and mournful walk with him, and another brisker one by herself every day during his visit for the sake of her health, and for the Godgiven beauties of the savage sea and changing hues and shapes in the skyscapes above it and above the sky-dwarfed buildings outlasting the seasonal buffetings of the winds of the landscape beside the sea. "Rumwinkle be praised," she thought, "without whose generosity none of this could have come to pass," and then, without warning, he appeared to her, as she had known him, but looking rejuvenated, in an ornate frame a few feet above the sea, with a pipe in one hand, and in the other a jug which he raised to his lips in a salute to her, and whose contents he appeared to pour down his throat, and then he and the frame grew bigger and bigger and fainter and fainter till he merged with the strata of colours and cumulus in the evening sky and the wind began its play again. And immediately she felt better, and a few remaining leaves on the road from the stripped windbitten trees that lined it skirled around her, leaping into the air and down again, as if she were wrapped in a harmless whirlpool of air, and she fell on her knees and gave thanks to God.


Somewhere in Italy there is a landscape from whose rocky top the poet Byron looked steeply down and gloried in the rough sea below and in the blustering wind, fit to be tied, blowing from off of it. To front it took all his strength. Even his coat took the wind’s part and tried to push him back, and finally his hat forsook him, taking advantage of a gust of wind that wouldn’t take no for an answer, and eloped as far as Gretna Green in Ultima Thule, if an unpublished poem by Southey is to be believed. But the poets had quarreled with each other, and no-one is alive now who knows the truth. Dear Southey, whose memory is erased like a gravestone on which the incised words are weathered away, may your twin epics on Thalaba and the accursed Kehama be resurrected that others may read them too, and not I alone, and discover their grandeur.

And these thoughts arose in me as I stood in the empyrean, apparently at ease, and there were clouds under my feet, and to my east, and to my south, and to my west, and you know the rest, but I wasn’t inside an airplane, and I wasn’t asleep, and it must have been the poet Blake who was influencing me, but no, it was Rumwinkle, glorious Rumwinkle, who was beginning to enjoy his appearances as a saviour and quite getting into the spirit of the thing.

He had appeared in the Woolworths frequented by the poor before those stores became defunct, and many ordinary people found their shoes had been resoled and reheeled, and Santa Claus’s beard grew by six inches. There was no stopping him, now that he’d got started. If you didn’t want rain, then you were dry. Did you want a mango fruit? Very well, look under your seat, where the cat is guarding it. Is your hair falling out? There it is, fifteen inches in front of you, suspended in the air. At least you haven’t lost it. Where is my dinner? Why, here it is, and warm enough to eat. Are my feet uncomfortable? Here are the slippers. And the sleepers, how many! all those insomniacs, waking refreshed. And all due to you, Lord Rumwinkle. But don’t worship false gods, including man’s automatically distorted conception of God, or, by heaven, there’ll be no more sleeping but gnashing of teeth, and no more slippers. Ha, I know you, hypocrite reader, adorer of secular idols, of tuppence ha’penny, of art, of sport, of war, of peace at any price. Give me back my innocence. Or did I steal it from myself? Ask Lord Rumwinkle.


From Hindustoo to Tanqueray, from Timbuctoo to Biscay Bay, the word spread of St. Rumwinkle, Krumwinkle, Krumbinkle, Dumdinkle, Tinkle, Tonkle, Wonkle wonkle, Aberwonkle, Underwonkle, Inkle Tinkle, Tonker Tanker, Extra Tunker, Bunker Hunker, Upsa Dunker, Dunker Dunker, Sunk, Sank, Sink, and Saint, Saint, Saint, till the inevitable happened, and warring sects appeared, and fought against each other, in words of mouth and words of volumes, fiery and thunderous, calling down anathemas and calling up devils, blistering tongues and blastering ears, for years and yours, till the inevitable happened, and they came to blows, more and more, and made food for the crows and vultures, and covered the countries with corpses and carrion (this all took a few years but speeded up with the spread of TV), and sometimes they united and fought against other religions, and then disunited and fought against each other again, and became confused with nationality, and then things became really bad; and more and more, the appearance of apparitions of Rumwinkle took on a sad look, till he was the saddest-looking apparition that ever was, and the saddest-looking statue and painting, and the saddest, looking, and then he turned away, first his head and then the rest of him, and that was that, and then he disappeared, and that was that again, and that was this, that gradually his worship subsided, and Lord Rumwinkle, Saint Rumwinkle, dear old Rumwinkle, was forgotten again, except in the hearts of the cook and the bedridden butler, and in the lamenting cries of the seagulls of the coastal town where his posthumous manifestation first appeared and faded away.


To the disbelievers.

You say you don’t remember any of this, and that that is why you don’t and have never believed in the existence of St. Rumwinkle. But that’s just it! How could you remember? You can’t remember because of the trauma effect. The worse the trauma, the less you remember. These events were so traumatic that nothing was remembered by anyone.

So how is it, you ask, that I can claim to remember them? I don’t make such a claim. Never did. But I kept a diary, and wrote down what happened, or what I was told had happened, before I forgot later that same day like morning dreams one wakes up from, and this writing and forgetting went on till it was all over.

Fortunately I remembered my name, and one day, finding my name on the diary, I read it, and that’s how I know.

If you don’t like this explanation, find a better.

But you who disbelieve and misbelieve in St. Rumwinkle, says the diary, should always remember there are devils with tridents and spiky hair and sharp ears and narrow eyes and sharp and pointy noses and sharp tongues and filed-down teeth and thin lips, and sharp chins and spiky beards, and sharp elbows and fanged dongs and forked tails and sharp knees, and pointed nails on fingers and toes, and though they are busy torturing and basting poor spirits, they are waiting for you.


"Prr, prr," said the mother, a scion of Rumwinkle’s cat, to the four kittens pushing their heads into her belly for their milk, and to Philip, a bit doddery now, come downstairs to see how they were getting on, and to white-haired Jill, visiting Philip who had become reconciled with her, years after that terrible business between them.

When the runt of that litter, Rumwinkle, or Rummy for short, developed a taste for the pigeons in Trafalgar Square, she soon learnt to kill only the most peripheral of them in the two twilights when fewer people were about (to avoid feelings of guilt and unease that had arisen in her when, further inside the Square, she had had to run the gauntlet of hostile human eyes and shooings, and of feet that would gladly have kicked her for her wickedness). So she became like a good Christian who didn’t want to tempt people to give way to their anger and self-righteousness: and tried to never be seen stalking or killing, or dragging her victims to some hidden place where, after dining, she could digest them in peace, lying somnolently with eyes almost closed and forepaws extended.

Second Rumwinkle, Sec, disappeared one dusky day without trace though false hopes were raised by replies generated by ads offering a reward for her return. She is remembered with affection when the history of this branch of the feline Rumwinkles is told to visitors.

Third Rumwinkle, Ferdy, was black all over except for a white blaze on his forehead and went into battle against trespasser cats like a night bearing an escutcheon. He and his best friend, a dog who lived nearby, would rub and nuzzle each other. But with hair raised and ears flattened back, Ferdy arched and hissed at other dogs who came too near at such times. People he ignored, or if they insisted on petting him, he stood his ground with a distant look in his eyes.

From Fourth Rumwinkle, known as Fordy, are descended most of the known Rumwinkle cat tribe, destined to be spread far and wide among the British nation. One even became a Cabinet Minister’s cat. The National Portrait Gallery has a highly unusual portrait of him, rampant, on the minister’s head.

Another descendant once caressed the shins of a very old ex-cook who stopped and stooped to stroke her on a seaside promenade.

But this catalogue of cats is a catastrophe, isn’t it? It has taken me away from my story, which is ’ but what has not yet come out of the cupboard door which has long been ajar is still hidden in darkness, though throughout the first half of the time covered by this chapter I’ve seen the tip of a whisker, belonging to a patient Sec who thinks she is completely hidden, poking out of it, never to be seen again since.


"Don’t you think," began the Duchess one morning, and would have gone on to complete her thought if the impatient Duke hadn’t interrupted her and said, "Often."

"Don’t be tiresome, dear," said the Duchess, maintaining an even voice, "If you’ve said that once, you’ve said it fifty times. That shows you don’t think, otherwise you’d be more original sometimes in your interruptions, and wouldn’t risk annoying me by saying that."

"I didn’t say, ’that,’" said the Duke, who was in a recalcitrant mood.

"I didn’t say, ’that,’ said the Duchess.

"There, you’ve done it again," the Duke obligingly pointed out. "I’m tired of your games," said the Duchess. "And since you don’t want to hear what I’ve to say, which concerns both of us ’ ." Then she walked out of the room, looking as if there was no more to be said.

"What games?" snorted the Duke dismissively, having waited to speak till she was out of earshot, and still feeling justified because initially her speaking to him had panicked him and interrupted some thoughts which at the sound of her voice had become irretrievably lost before he knew whether he wanted to preserve them or not.

The dancer who sweeps the Earth, I mean the wind, began to moan among the immemorial elms and as a reward for exemplary persistence soon reached gale force. Large branches were swept off trees, and trees off their sites, and one man was swept all the way down a street and, when the wind turned round, he was swept all the way back again.

Two days later, when the gale had subsided, the Duke, with trepidation lest the question raise damped-down fires, nonetheless had the temerity to ask, "My dear, what was it you wanted to say the other day?"

Deciding not to misunderstand him as she was sure the opportunity to do so would occur again as soon as it was needed, and so deciding to bypass for the time being the other things she had wanted to say to him, which concerned his character, or rather lack of it, and her heroic forbearance in the circumstances, the Duchess replied, "Merely that those other two paintings of Rumwinkle’s, you know the ones, were for sale again, and it might have been fun to go to the auction."

Deciding not to quibble, about which of the many paintings of Rumwinkle’s she meant, along the lines of, "Which do you mean? You know he had a lot." He said, "Ah yes. Good idea."

"But we can’t go," she said decidedly, as if chopping someone’s head off with one blow, and being rather proud of the feat.

"Oh, why not?" he asked cautiously, wondering how many of her friends he would have to pretend to like when they turned up for lunch, tea, and supper, and which ones she would use as an excuse for not going once she had ascertained that he did want to go.

"Because they held it the afternoon the wind started up," she said, irrefutably and triumphantly, knowing he could do nothing to change it. But if he tried to blame her, she was ready for that. Cut, thrust, pierce, and it would be over, with him lying and bleeding profusely on the carpet, only figuratively, of course. Oh well, never mind, in due course.

"Are you sure?" he asked, hoping against hope.

"It’s in the papers. More tea?"

"Yes please." Accepting defeat graciously.

Silence, except for the crunching of toast between teeth.

"But we could perhaps go see the paintings at whoever’s bought them, couldn’t we?" he hazarded.

"Ah, the snake is raising its head again," she thought. Aloud she said, "They’ve been bought by a Japanese. They say he’s got all three now."

"Oh well, I can’t see us going there, can you?" he said, giving up.

"It would be interesting." she said, and determined to think more about going there, now that he had capitulated.


Dear Leo,
This is an explanation of
b pl cl m t k. a [as in at] b. Say it as you will, but I prefer the letters sounded as if at the beginning of words. B pl cl m t k. a b.

These are the beginnings of black and blackened and blush, and plush and plutocrat and Pluto, and high muckamuck claustrophobia, and with the aitch dropped, chlorinel and chlorinated chlorinate, whose meanings the writer once knew, and of mother and mater and alma mater, and more and more and muff, and about nuff-and-guff-and-muff, and ticker and tock and tuck tucka-ree-knee and entropy and Ann Topy and Antopy Watt, and tee tee tea, and kaa and call and clint and cloud, and the start of Aga and Aga Khan, and blossom.

These words enter people:
        by touch of Braille and by ear and by eye.
        By knee.
        By elbow.
        By blow.
        In sum, by body
        And are felt inside their bodies.

What is their effect on my cells, which feel them, or on yours, which you say don’t feel them, or on you who don’t? Anyway, I’m now writing for the inner effect of my poems, and using their intellectual meaning more as a means of steering them.

There are ghosties at the bottom of the garden, of thousand of oysters. There must be a beach and a bay. Shells, empty shells. Someone ate them.

I love you.

Written before things got bad, this is a letter from someone with progressive Alzheimer’s. Remember Jennifer? Whose bag was gone through by Polly and Philip.

At the Rumwinkle party she spent most of her time with his dogs, out of shyness. She used to write poems no-one knew about and they were posthumously found and burnt by relatives who thought them stupid stuff. Copies of two survived, given by her to Kai Lung for an anthology which was never published.

She ended up with Alzheimer’s to the enth. And before she died had forgotten Rumwinkle and Philip Dearborn and Philippe de Messenger and philippe the black marketeer and Polly and all, all of them, as if they were dead and beyond recall.

Someone, whom she loved, forgot her.

Jennifer drowned in a flooding-over and unauthorized bath she had put herself in.

Her last spoken syllables drowned too:

B pl cl m t k. a b.

Appendix A. Two poems by Jennifer Oakley.


FLESH, FLESH OF THE MOON, the moon of Abirak.
Five hours old, not at home in the world, but at rest.

You who come from far kingdoms, hold your hosses.
You who toss hay, and the treaty of Litovsk into the loft,
wha-do-ya-know? Is the hay more valuable? Is the call more surreal?
The call of what? White moon of Abirak, am I born?
Borne aloft in my stillness, my body crawling with the pleasures of five counties, do I count?
Is my stillness the record of countless years, the repossession of fifteen eons, twirled about like a cloudless day in the night?
Moon of Abirak, I am come to help you. Control my desire.
Seize fire, and be my central fire lit like a county, a tyke, an underglazing, an understanding, a lost day. I am alone!


I am alone. I twirl. I lose seven bits of myself.
I serve. In the countless gales of autumn, I cannot count.
Yoo-hoo, I am alone. Come and get me.
Five Valdivians, ten Norsk, what are they to me?
Bring yourself along, and die, die of fright.

Appendix B.

Like the above letter which was never sent, these two additional poems were brought by her to the National Health home she was put in when her Alzheimer’s necessitated she be put there. They were retained after her demise by her chief treating doctor who kept them for the light he hoped they would shed on the onset and progress of Alzheimer’s. They are to be found in his book.


Now, out of the formal hormel,
               the delicate just and indiscriminate dust

the miscellany, imperi-ellity, royal alphabetter, loyal letter,
         going one better, up and ate her,
         for her sins, her bins, wins and dins, trusting the
             latter to do better

for the just are wurst, and the must is noorst, and the ton
      of won is lost, in the bost and open ghost of a worst.

Mounts and pounce
                     the wan-ton slaves of the eager white
and wilt in the news of the bright white light

for on foreign and pregnant light
the bright gight sight lives-up-and-lives-down the eager
     and the sight of the mite

the tongue drips honey
the tongue indescribable and deridable,
placid and formidable, king of

yun tun
yun ton the great
the grate
the grate of iron
the blast of rain.


formal dormal cormel hormal mormal plormal sormal
you’re all alone, and the tone
of my, guy why buy, sigh
so you’re all  alone.

why my, high and hell, bell bell, de jour,
and in the interior, the last, blast, baked, and raked.

So all alone, he rode out, she, goad out, rout, you’re my.

stop the all alone, drone, I fear, fear of I, you know,
But bring, the sing, song, along,
and alight, in the night, twite, to write,
I am you, you not alone, bone. Groan.

I (not Jennifer, who left none) offer the following notes, all conjectural, because she may have meant to empty the oral sounds of these particular words of their denotations and even of most (or for some people all) of their connotations.

Dormal: possibly an adjective for dorm, dormitory.
Cormel: possibly an adjective for corm, a tuber most familiar in the form of a crocus bulb. The el ending may have been influenced by the preceding poem’s hormel, which is the brand name of a tinned ham, or perhaps it is a form of hormic, the adjective for horme, a sort of vital force postulated by some psychologists.
Mormal: an inflamed leg sore familiar to readers of Chaucer.
Phormal: Is this a strange pun on meaninglessness and formal, or only a nonce-word?
Sormal: a nonce-word. In this case it consists only of connotations and no denotations.
Twite: a linnet, or a stupid fool.





The article in the Wall Street Journal went on to refer to "The Orgy."


The British Economist ran a special in which a spokesman for the Tate Gallery was quoted as saying that currently acquisitions were developing in a different direction but that in principle nothing was definitely ruled out. "As you know, we cast a wide net," he said.

Art Views ran an article on the painter.

"Though little is known of Richard Wade, the painter of the Rumwinkle painting, or ’The Orgy,’ to give it its current name, we know he was a religious fanatic who ended up in an asylum for the criminally insane for the last 20 years of his life for killing three people: an art dealer, an art critic, and a rival painter ’ he had entered a plea of not guilty, saying they were beneath his notice so he could not have done it, though he might have accidentally squashed them with his foot. As expected, no footmarks were found at the scene of the crime. Once in the asylum, he denounced painting as the work of the devil to infrequent visitors, according to relatives, and refused to do any more though provided with the facilities for it by the authorities.

"’We think it a pity he didn’t make use of the opportunity. As you know, painting can be very therapeutic and we encourage all inmates to do it,’ says Mr. John Brown, the superintendent.

"Nonetheless, all his known paintings are noted for their painterly quality. "’A painter’s painter,’ was Sir John Hodgekin’s comment.

"But to the general public, to the extent they are aware of ’The Orgy,’ it is synonymous with salaciousness. TV street interviews about ’The Orgy’ showed this recently. One young man said, ’Orgy? Lead me to it.’ And many expressed disapproval of it."


There are dim doings going on up in Madame Bolly’s bordello, where men who have taken all their clothes off are playing living statues in large rooms with parquet floors, with a maid here and there discretely dressed in a black frock with a white lace collar and white apron over it lightly dusting down their balls with a feather duster whether there’s dust on them or not on account of the dust-laden wind that’s been blowing for three days and has just given its last gasp of a fitful gust. If these attentions have any effect, an outsize ashtray is hung on a newly stiffened cock — and women, in bust-led and bustled full-length dresses in primary colors with low necklines showing their breasts swelling down to their nipples, sweep in, in twos, and disdainfully flick ash from their long cigarette holders into the ashtrays without looking at the men and without any effect on their own conversations about doodads and diamond rings, which are coming from their own highly?coloured lips, newly prepared with the help of large gilt-framed mirrors on Louis Quinze type dressers they’ve just gotten up from. We cowboys and miners, who live here and don’t begrudge the gals a good time, reckon these men are just city slickers who don’t know they’re being taken for a ride and paying plenty for it.

It’s a different story if you go down the sweep of the broad staircase from the bordello onto the sawdustcovered floor of the Rumwinkle saloon. There’s these old-timers with no teeth in their heads doing lively jigs on account of the liquor in the tumblers in their hands and in their bodies, and the only ones not laughing at them and not enjoying them are the barbers who’ve bin waiting all week to lather up their faces and get all that bristly stubble off their faces and get their hands on their ingots in payment for all that hard work. Even the cardplayers look up now and then and smile before settling down to see how many of the others are cheating them. Ah yes, one of them has just jumped up and kicked his chair back and accused a narrow-eyed critter of cheating him. Looks like they’re gonna settle it with guns. Everybody’s drawing away and getting ready to up-end tables to hide behind when the bullets start to fly and the barman ducks behind the bar, and a confederate with a nod to narrow-eyes shoots the young objecting feller in his back and some of the killer’s stray bullets bust a lot of the bottles behind the bar and the young guy’s not killed after all and the singing-gal, with the tough wisecracking act on the outside and heart of gold on the inside, just steps up to him lying on the floor and cradles his head with her arm and looks him in the eyes and finishes her song with the words, "don’ know why I love you so, but I do," and has him carried up to her own room upstairs, where she expertly binds his wounds after the doctor says he’ll live but needs plenty of rest and plenty of loving care, "which I know you’ll give," and she’s fond of the old doc so she gives him a hug and a kiss too and the doc is almost overcome with the proximity of so much loving femininity and has to wipe his glasses to hide the full extent of his emotion because he knew her father who was a good man who was gunned down just like this here young feller who, come to think of it, reminds him of someone whom he can’t quite bring to mind, so he leaves the room with a backward glance at the feller and passes a hand over his brow trying to remember, and compresses his lips and shakes his head when he can’t.

Just then a hole gets blown in the jail and the members of the bank-robbing gang rescue their leader who for a laugh let himself be arrested by the sheriff who’s the town drunk but who’s been on the wagon for four days though his hands are still trembling and who was elected sheriff by the crooks who run the town to the detriment of the good law-abiding citizens who are ineffectual when it comes to showdowns with them but have secretly got together and pooled their hard-earned money and invited a deadly gunslinger to come and clean up the town, except he didn’t turn up, on the day he said he would, after he took a downpayment from the delegation who found him in another town’s saloon where they saw him pick off five bad characters who didn’t like the stranger gunslinger’s looks, which he did without turning round to face them on account of he could see them drawing a bead at him in a mirror behind the bar. He finished his drink without looking at them lying on the floor with the spurs on their boots and dead as the doornails that were going to go in the coffins that the lean funereal-looking coffin-maker was soon measuring them up for with the handy tape he whipped out from his vest pocket with a grin on his face that developed after he counted the first two of the corpses when he came in, though you could see he wasn’t used to grinning by the way it fluctuated some.

That’s how it is up and down the West of the U.S.A.

And to top it all the Brady Gang have just ridden into town, whooping it up and firing guns into the air for the fun of it and to announce they aren’t afraid of no law and nothing, because this Mr. Brady is a rich landowner who is unscrupulously running small farmers off their land and killing those who resist so he can own a still bigger ranch and run a railroad through it and make more money and have more power and be respected by them big Easterners, even if it means leaving innocent teenage daughters and ten-year-old sons to be orphans with nowhere to go to and no-one and nothing to turn to.

But there’s a limit to what we Westerners will put up with.

And now the railroad-robbing gang are robbing the well-heeled passengers on the train that they’ve stopped before it can reach the town station and they’re insulting the ladies and yes, some of the gang are Mexicans, you can tell by their moustachios and their ability to say "Si" and "No" and the broad brims of their hats and their despicable behaviour in general though it is a different despicable behaviour from that of the Indians who have just held up the stage coach and silently plucked the earrings out of the pretty woman passenger’s ears, leaving a drop of blood on each one, and she is Brady’s daughter coming back from her college education out East and she’s proud and only bites her lips at the pain it causes and looks haughty at the Indian who did it and who has also wounded the driver so that he can only drive into town slouched back and to one side of the coach and the horses stampede and she climbs along the outside of the coach at great risk to her life and calms them down and then faints and falls off the coach and the driver just manages to get to town to tell them what happened before he slumps down and dies. But we know a secret and I’ll let you in on it right now.

These Mexicans and Indians are really only some white members of the Brady gang in disguise hoping to whip up animosity against the local peaceful Indians and the poor decent dirt-farming Mexicans to get them off their land for you know what.

So much has been happening lately that I think I’ve forgotten something.

Anyway this young feller who’s been here some days and don’t carry no guns on account as he says of his father got shot dead even though he carried them, is really the gunslinger in disguise. You can see like he’s always turning away from the good citizens and has his hatbrim low over his eyes so they won’t recognize him, and he’s got the situation pretty well sized up by now.

So the leader of the train robbers and the leader of the stage-coach hold-up, who are really two of Brady’s lieutenants, quarrel over something or other, and they’re in the town’s wide main street to shoot it out and have just faced each other and straddled their feet over where they’re gonna shoot from, and Brady’s there to see fair play, having doctored their guns unbeknownst to them so they won’t kill each other, on account of he reckons they can do more of his dirty work for him if they’re alive than when they’re dead, but he hasn’t told his daughter this, preferring her to remain in ignorance of all his doings so she can be as pure as her mother was while she was alive. But the daughter doesn’t know this and can’t understand why he doesn’t stop the fight and that’s when she first begins to have doubts about him. He couldn’t have stopped it anyway, on account he’d have been perceived as a weakling, which he couldn’t allow either.

So they’re straddling the street and looking fierce at each other and trying to figure out the best time to go for it, when there’s an earthquake and the till-then hidden fault down the middle of the road opens up a bit and they’re straddling too much to jump to one side of it, and it keeps on opening and making them straddle more and then it opens up some more and they both fire and disappear down the gap and before they have a chance to pop up again the thing closes up with a grinding sound and ain’t nobody else moved yet, it closed so quick. So people wait a while to make sure the quake is over and then they go to where the gap was, careful and real slow at first, and poke around it a bit, and then go away looking real thoughtful like, and get on with their lives.

Just then what’s left and what’s right of a troop of the U.S cavalry rides into town with the stars and stripes flapping on a pole at its head. The troop has orders to create law and order in the West, and this is a tall order as its commanding officer knows. Well, he happens to recognize the gunslinger who had once been his lieutenant and had stopped being so on account of some differences between them on how to handle certain situations that had come up, but now, after a few wisecracks at each other’s expense, the gunslinger lays it all down square before him and they join forces.

Just then the leader of the bank robbers, who doesn’t know about the troopers who are in a different part of the town, walks into the bank with two of his men and badly frightens the bald-headed cashier, who wears the green visor over his eyes to protect them from the glare of the greenbacks when he’s counting them, and gets him to open the safe while the other two cover and cow the customers who unbeknownst to them include a bounty hunter who has just come out of retirement, on account of a rumour of rich pickings to be found concentrated in one place, and drifted on his horse into the town like an empty rowboat gently bobbing up and down on a slow incoming tide, and who has just struck a match on one of a group of posters of badly wanted baddies and now all seven of the goodies including the sheriff who knew the gunslinger’s mother on account of whom he took to drink when she rejected him and married the gunslinger’s father who turned out to be a no-goodnik and went downhill till he reached the bottom and joined the other inert refuse there in a Chinese opium den on the San Francisco waterfront where he expired after hallucinating that his long-suffering wife had forgiven him and was sitting beside him and wiping his sweating brow with the hem of her skirt which was a wedding present from the sheriff who with the three remaining troopers and the gunslinger and doc and the bounty hunter and a ten year old orphan who acts as a go-between between them all and transmits necessary messages and gets the lowdown on the whereabouts of the baddies who don’t suspect him on account of his tender age which is much embarrassed when his older sister warns him to be careful and gives him an unpremeditated kiss till he figures out its on account of she’s got the hots for the gunslinger, who happens to be a handsome critter, as has Brady’s daughter if you’re wondering what has happened to her.

All right. The sad-looking lean guy in black who has just moved to this town has deputized some of the citizens as is good at carpentry to help him as he’s no fool and can see what’s coming when the movie projector breaks down and we have to wait awhile and we’re running out of popcorn and then it comes on and off again a few times, flickering white and then going black and soundless, and we’re groaning and when it finally gets going again all the baddies are lying about sprawled in heaps all over the town, some of them on account of the herd of cattle on the way to Abilene that got stampeded by a mysterious singing cowboy in black on an all-white horse. Too bad he didn’t get to meet that singing gal in the saloon or maybe he did. They’d a made a swell duet. And we’ve missed all that shooting and stalking around and dying and the Bolly girls driving around in an opentopped carriage and waving at all the men on the stoops and at the open windows while those sour-faced womenfolk lucky enough to have their men indoors at this time bar the doors on account they know those girls aren’t out there just for the benefit of their lungs.

But the gunslinger ain’t the marrying type and he goes off alone into the sunset and the sheriff says, "Darn it," and moseys along after him to make sure he drinks his coffee in the morning and some gals get married to the surprised troopers who however rise to the occasion and the Bolly girls are the bridesmaids and about everybody else gets married, them too, to their rich customers who are in love with them and it turns out the bounty hunter used to know Madame Bolly and still kind of hankers for her and that ten-year-old sure prizes the sheriff’s badge which the gunslinger gave him as a keepsake, and as for Brady, he died trying to save a woman that got in the line of gunfire from one of his own men, so I guess he was a white man after all, cause he was swarthy and I had my doubts for a while.

I reckon that about ties it all up or I done come down here to this here ghost town for nothing and my name ain’t Rumwinkle.


Rumwinkle remembered his and his sister’s childhood toys while he lay in bed waiting for sleep to overtake him after he felt very tired and had retired early from the last party he ever gave.

The kite flew high and small in the sky that surrounded him like the milky blue top of a tureen many times enlarged from the silvery one he had seen in the kitchen, but the edges of this one were far far away beyond the distant trees which looked as if the shallow arcs of their tops where they had given up reaching toward the sky had been trimmed by a barber who would have to have been very very very tall to reach them. The kite looked like a black snowflake up there whereas it had started out into the sky in short spurts which didn’t change the kite’s colour of raw brick weathered and mellowed to a yellow pink like the walls that supported the glass panes of the greenhouse and that enclosed the vast square of the estate. He would have preferred its squareness to have been circular because then you always knew how far you were from its center, but when he told his nanny this she laid it down as an unbreakable rule that you cannot square the circle and discouraged him from asking why but told him to get on with painting the gay green stripes across the triangular top part of the kite, and not to worry about waiting for them to dry, as the wind would do it. But when the clouds drifted over he drew the kite down and when the rain began he threw it away on top of the gardener’s tools in the porchway of the greenhouse, and ran to the library where he had been allotted some shelves for his books but he couldn’t settle on which one to look at.

"The Wind In The Willows" had the last word of its title in larger and bolder black letters, but why was that? The only tree on its cover was a monkeypuzzle tree, and nobody seemed to know why monkeys would be puzzled by such a simple-looking tree until his sister told him it looked like a puzzle made by monkeys and that monkeys weren’t as clever as people and that he was silly and a bit of a monkey himself. This worried him in case it was true. But after much research which included looking in a mirror to see how much hair had started to grow on him and asking his mother if she had also married a monkey as well as his father and had he run away and was that why he wasn’t there and shouldn’t they get a monkeypuzzle tree in case he wanted to come back, she told him to stop monkeying around and wondered aloud if they should get a new nanny. Then, on his hands and knees and playing with his bricks in a corner of his nursery and pretending to be so absorbed that they would think he wasn’t listening and so would let him hear what was being said about him, he overheard his nanny swear black and blue to his mother that she had no idea where he got such ideas.

The cover also had a red stone post with a black open wrought-iron gate next to the wall of a gray lodge with a window in it, and part of a similar gate opposite, and looking at the cover was like looking through a window and only seeing what the window showed, and it showed a tiny house between the gates, only a long long way away, with many peaks on its roof, and chimneys. Perhaps his father owned that one too. And there was a greeny yallery road that led up to the house between low graystone walls that almost hid the lowest green shrubs.

He turned to another cover: Richard Jeffries’ "Bevis," which showed a boy, bigger than he was, on a raft in a swift-flowing stream with low earthen banks and another tiny house in the distance. The boy held a pole which trailed in the water.

Wait a minute. Neither of these books had yet been written when Rumwinkle was a youngster, so either the author or Rumwinkle is not telling the truth. We’ll deal with that later. Unless, of course, my death intervenes, life’s useful device to explain unkept promises.


The Tale of Master Sam The Cleaners. Before I start you’ll want to know what kind of a name Master Sam The Cleaners is. Well, Master means a young boy whose parents have servants who call him Master or sometimes the Young Master to distinguish him from his father The Master or The Old Master who has servants, or with a small em it is a schoolteacher, and with a big M someone in authority in a hoity-toity college who sits at a High Table and, if he has short arms, has difficulty, not so much in reaching for the vittles as in being able to stretch far enough to be able to get hold of them, and when everyone at the table is short-armed they’ve been known to try for weeks and fall back out of starvation while the long?armed servitors who placed the food precisely in the middle of the table snicker and hug themselves with delight. Or it is someone considered to be a master of some art or craft or way of life such as sitting still or cutting an apple in half in mid air with a sword, or who has gained the secret of life and makes a good living out of it by telling others about it a bit at a time and charging for it, especially charging those who make a lot of money at what they are good at, because some who are good at some things are fools when it comes to other things. Or sometimes it is a courtesy title bestowed by polite people on someone else while thinking the most disparaging thoughts about him in private. With musicians it takes the form of Maestro, and if you are a Maestro that gives you the right to go around and shake the hand of any other musician on the stage as soon as a piece of music has been played. And there is no limit to the amount of time you can spend doing it. The greatest Maestros can do it for hours on end and if the performance of the music left something to be desired they make up for it with this and even throw in a bearhug or two so that everyone goes away in the end feeling as if they had been massaged by their favourite politician and that by some miracle the end of the piece of music had been reached without any bloodshed.

As for Sam, we’ll pass that over for the moment, with the slightest of mentions that it is the reverse of Mas, and that the phrase Master Sam the Cleanters (sic) ends in tee ee are ess, and that it is the name of many people, some of them women, and a cat I used to know who had the politest manners and never rushed at his food. It’s also short for Samuel about whom the bible says a lot, and for a military missile, but I said I would pass over it for now and so I shall, so don’t let anybody accuse me of not keeping my promises cause if they do I shall knock their bleeding blocks off. I got that the wrong way round: I’ll knock their blocks off and then they’ll bleed. I wish I could stop correcting myself before I knock my own block off, and I don’t mean knock off in the sense of steal or rob.

So that’s the Tale of Master Sam. Wait, no, that’s not it. What about The Cleaners part of the Tale?

Sam was the son of parents in the cleaning business, whether they used a broom or a brush or hot water or just spent their time talking to each other while letting others get on with the cleaning. He was taken to the cleaners regularly, either to visit his parents or their employees, or because he had it in him to be a gambling man, and regularly lost his pocketmoney to unscrupulous bigger boys who took him in with shell games or bets he couldn’t possibly win or, when they couldn’t be bothered to make it look legitimate, simply took his money away by sheer force or the threat of it.

Some people by now will be asking what this has to do with Rumwinkle or the Rumwinkle painting. Why, nothing, and yet everything. And I can say this because it is my belief that a thing should be judged by what it is and not by its title, such as a peach of a Judiciary Committee who are so obviously, thanks to TV, shown to be so narrow-minded and small-hearted and mean-spirited and so unjudicial, that to be impeached by them and their allies is a badge of honour.

And to be able to see the Devil so openly at work and so smugly unaware of what he looks like, hamming it up in the role of probity is a rarebit to be prized. And to see an agglomeration of the Republican Party which once had decent people in it, an Abraham Lincoln and a Nelson Rockefeller, people who had the power to do good and did it, and which once contained a lot of the salt of that part of the earth called the U.S.A. turn into Gaderene swine possessed by devils cheering each other on as they race them to their doom over the cliff of the next elections, is to see — but words fail me.


People are believers, whether they believe in the existence of God or believe in the non-existence of God or believe one can’t know whether God exists or not. They believe. People are also differers, as shown in what they believe about the existence of God. They differ. They believe, and they differ about what they believe in.

Now Rumwinkle’s painting was a believer. "What!" you say. "A painting is not a person! It doesn’t think, it doesn’t feel, so how can it believe?" We differ, do we not?

But not about that. I agree: in our way, it doesn’t think, it doesn’t feel, and it doesn’t believe. But on a cellular level it believes. Its cells cling to each other. If the cells of Rumwinkle’s painting could not in some way recognize each other, if they "thought" that some of them had different properties, Rumwinkle’s painting would disintegrate. It’s their belief in each other that keeps it in existence.

If the Sun and Moon should doubt,
They’d immediately Go out.

Blake, who wrote that couplet, was a great poet, and great poets don’t talk nonsense. Even their nonsense is not nonsense.

Oh well, I felt like being a bit mystical.

If this chapter is not to your taste, ignore it, and renumber the following chapters; just as, if you didn’t like one of the ingredients in a mixed salad, you would put it aside and not eat it.


Not only was Rumwinkle’s painting a believer, but people believed in it. There were Rumwinkle-painting orgies in which people tried to imitate the painting, sticklers to its every detail, and then there were those free spirits who bent it to their own desires. Acrimonious debates between the various camps ensued. Words making sexual innuendoes about the people in each camp were used. And every now and then a world-weary voice was raised, and asked what all the fuss was about, and said in a complaining quiet way that it was all a matter of taste.

But envy was the biggest complainer of all. Those who for direct physical reasons or because of the situations they were in could not act in the same way but wanted to were the most vociferous in their condemnation of every aspect of these orgies. Theirs was the hatred and envy arising from frustrated desire. But only the honest acknowledged this frustrated desire in themselves and sought to free it or thoroughly kill it in themselves. Some of those who didn’t have the tools to deal with frustrate sexual desire couldn’t bear to have it exacerbated in themselves without any hope of resolving the conflict in themselves in a way they could accept, and turned a blind eye to it, and avoided anything that could remind them of it like those extreme Victorians who covered with cloth the piano legs that reminded them of women’s legs, and when these leggings also reminded them of what was beneath, got rid of the pianos. And those who were the Giulianis of the world (Giuliani was a New York mayor) did their best to repress any manifestation of sexual desire in other people.

Mind you, I myself think a monogamous heterosexual relationship, that is fulfilling in non-sexual ways as well, would be the most satisfactory, but what do I know about that? Like everybody else in the world, I carry on as best as I can.


If a pern, if a hap, if a map, all got together, what would be the result?
A chap.

If a yood, and a hay, and a gree?
A tree.

If a migration, a pernoctation, and an explanation?
God knows.

But let’s be serious.
Look at it this way, look at it that way, look at it any other way. What’s the result?
The way you look at it.

What is: it, the way, the look?
That’s a hard one.

If I take it?
You got it.

O.K. So far so good. That’s good.
Have you anything more to say? Have anything more to declare?
Only that. Only that I. That I. That I know. Know what. What I. Whiffle. Whiffle-tree. Is it? Exit. Let it, leg it. Inter, alia; exit, egg it.
Rumwinkle, tumwinkle, and all fall down; exit and plenty and never you moun. Set a single in the air, and the creature come down there. Where the lasting is a mayor, there you’ll here the excessive bear. Where the twenties, and the fool, I will let you and the dule. Go there and sink in it, what you find will breaker it. If you listen, you will hear, first a piggy, then a deer. Take the twosomes and the three, and you will come too, and a three. Three three three is not enough, bring some other, [two words missing] and buff. If you listen, one, two, three, you will realize it’s me. When I go, the one is three; that will make me, one, two, three. If the wisdom of a tree, the narcissism of a bee. Call it twilight, what you will; ere the night, another twill. Sing a song and break it up, other verses will go sup. Tinkle, tinkle, tailor; and the cradle will rock. Send for a circus, and none will avail. If a peludkin taketh the tail, look out for a squashing and no avail. Send for speludkins, and somewhere else, the result will be worse than if you heard Erse. Take a two sixpence and cast it in the sky, you will not rue it till it hit my eye.

Gnomic verses are traditionally hard to make sense of. For instance, the one that seems to make most sense, the last one, raises the question of what is a two sixpence. We can dismiss Professor Eks’ and Professor Wye’s reply that it is not a one sixpence or a three sixpence. That is evading the essence of the question, and a superficial answer, to boot (mine are made of weathered leather), and will mislead those who are easily misled into thinking that the question has been answered and so make them turn to some other problem and so hold up progress on this matter for perhaps another two hundred years when perhaps the question will re-occur to some other genius.

Perhaps this is not the most felicitous place to introduce the question of the gnomic fragments that were presented to us earlier on, but I will chance it, as it seems necessary to my argument. I refer to those collected from various manuscripts into the series, "Only that. Only that I. That I know. Know what. What I. Whiffle. Whiffle-tree. Is it? Exit. Let it, leg it. Inter, alia; exit, egg it."

I must first acknowledge that if it were not for that gifted amateur, Mr. Zed, and his gifted arrangement of these fragments, I would not have been able to add three more to our slender stock of the sub-species of gnomic verses to which these blong, I beg your pardon, belong. There was only one more step to take once I realized that popularity leads to repetition. Once made, that step resulted in a gnomic verse made by joining the fragments together and omitting the repetitions. This resulted in the restoration of the following three gnomic verses including one of the few known examples of an unrhymed one.

  1. Only that I know what I whiffle, whiffle-tree.
  2. Is it exit? Let it leg it.
  3. Inter alia; exit, egg it.

The last two, of course, being shorter than usual, presented special difficulties.

We can infer from these three that even in those days there were stage performances. Number one presents us with a scene of a drunken ploughman. Number two urges an actor to hurry off stage when he’s supposed to exit and not linger. Number three is a truly gnomic instruction to learned spectators to hurry on the exit, of actors reluctant to leave the stage, by throwing eggs at them. The language had dropped the old Gothic pronoun genders but had not yet developed the new ones, hence the "it," and is not necessarily pejorative.

This leads us directly to the solution of the "Take a two sixpence" conundrum, bang bang.

"Sixpence," as I had hypothetically demonstrated elsewhere before these three gnomic verses confirmed the existence of stage performances, would have been the entrance price for two people into the cloth-surrounded open-air stages if they had existed at that time. Cheers. We would now say, "two for sixpence," but frequent use would have led us, as it did them, to say, "a two sixpence," as opposed to the price for a fat person, "a one sixpence."

There remains what is perhaps the most outstanding of the remaining problems. What is this "Rumwinkle, tumwinkle" in "Rumwinkle, tumwinkle, and all fall down, exit and plenty and never you moun"? And though my answer is conjectural and tentative, yet once again the three gnomic verses come to our aid. We’ve seen that drunkenness was a stage subject, so we can proceed to expect that rumwinkle is exactly what it says it is, a winkle garnished or drowned in rum. This is reinforced by the next word, "tumwinkle," descriptive of a winkle in the tummy or to use the common word for it at the time, "tum," and if further confirmation were needed they all fall down from the effects of the rum in the tum. And then of course they have to exit. As for the "plenty and never you moun," it was a common enough phrase at the time. There are many analogues. We can safely assume it meant something like, "have a good time and take no heed of what others think." But this must not be taken to mean that I reject Professor Aitch’s suggestion out of hand. No one knows the field better than the professor, and when he suggests that "moun" is an obsolete form of "mount" and refers us to field-games, horsy, rural, and sexual, that is, horsing around in general, we must give heed.


The Ode to Rumwinkle.

The housewife who in a state of almost unconscious happiness sings or hums to herself as she stands and does the dishes at the sink while the cleaner, hired for the day with the approval of her husband whom she is looking forward to seeing soon, is busy elsewhere in the house, can be said to be singing the "Ode to Rumwinkle," till her husband, just back from work and going immediately to the lavatory, discovers there, hanging on the door, the shirt and trousers of the cleaner who is not what he expected, a woman, but a man, sent by the cleaning agency, and who changed there into his cleaning clothes. The Ode is interrupted when her husband, holding the evidence in his hands of the incriminating trouserlegs and waving them wildly in the air, rushes in on her and jealously demands where she is hiding her lover, but as soon as she gets out of her paralysis of astonishment and understands what has happened, she explains, and because he wants to love her and fundamentally does and only wanted a bit of drama, and because she loves him, goes back to the sink and starts to sing again, and all is well again except that that particular cleaner is never rehired there and that is held against him at the agency.

My uncle, Tom Cobley, used to say that The Ode to Rumwinkle occurred whenever anyone who was happy happened to hum or sing some staves of Beethoven or some popular air, and so it became a frequent saying in our family, that whenever anyone wanted to remark that someone seemed particularly happy, whether they were singing or not, that that someone was singing the Ode to Rumwinkle. And it was particularly remarkable that my uncle, who was tone deaf, was in this way one of the greatest musicians of the day and inspired many others to sing.

At my uncle’s funeral, which Rumwinkle attended, people were asked to raise a song and it was noticed that the diverse and dissonant beginnings soon harmonized and became like the sound of an ethereal hymn about gathering at a river whose name I don’t remember nor even if it had one.

Rumwinkle went on from there to open a bazaar in his locality, where his jovial demeanour did much to recompense the losers in the competition for the biggest and best cabbage, which by the way was of a remarkable size and was given by the winner to a poor woman who had once been a great beauty but who now lived alone in a cottage that was almost bare to the walls, and perhaps the donor had once had more than a little feeling for her but having never told her his love, because he had despaired of it at the sight of the other competitors for her, had instead devoted himself to gardening over whose fortunes he had more control despite the weather which at that time was particularly fickle and high-handed.


Philip Dearborn was walking down a street when he recognized the caf? where he had the altercation with a waitress about someone else’s food many years ago when he was young and starving. He entered it and sat down to order a substantial meal. Certainly that waitress was no longer there or she had changed out of all recognition, but the one who was to serve him lifted her hip from the counterside it had been resting against and licking the tip of a pen as if it had dried up wrote down his order and shouted it in to the invisible cook.

He waited an inordinate time and when his meal did not arrive asked the waitress whether there was some problem in connection with the order. She explained that the cook was somewhat deaf and had probably not heard her order, but if he was still making it he did not like to be reminded so would the gentleman not mind if he waited a little longer. Philip waited and still there was no result. He asked her to risk the cook’s displeasure, and remind him or make sure that he knew of the order. She went into the cook and came out shortly with his meal, and Philip was about to put his first forkful into his mouth which had opened in anticipation, when the cook rushed out and threw a sharp knife into the wooden wall where it quivered a little beside Philip who just then noticed several more gashes in the wall near him. Deciding that retreat was the better half of valour, he got up as if he was unaware of anything unusual and was about to move off as fast as he could, when the cook, wreathed in smiles, embraced him.

"Yow-ow-ow," Philip yelled in horror, at the same time in vain trying to free himself from the cook’s bearhug.

Then the cook suddenly let go and stepped back, and smiled again, and said, "Smile, you’re on TV."


Arthur Doyle was not only late, too late, but he felt that way too, and he yawned and yawned. He felt as if every cell swimming or at rest in the liquids that make up 90 percent of the human body, in this case his body, felt that way too, whatever their type, whether they were or weren’t:

1. alate. . . . . . . . . . . . with winglike parts,
2. oblate. . . . . . . . . . . flattened at the poles,
3. chelate. . . . . . . . . . . with pincers able to grasp anything,
4. correlate. . . . . . . . . . . mutually related,
5. volubilate. . . . . . . . . . . winding round to climb, readily rotating,
6. flabellate. . . . . . . . . . . fanshaped,
7 umbellate. . . . . . . . . . . like a mass of flowers arranged on a mass of small stalks which are nearly equal in length and share a common central stalk,
8. pedicellate. . . . . . . . . . . with small umbellate stalks,
9 cancellate. . . . . . . . . . . cross-barred,
10. ocellate. . . . . . . . . . . with little eyes or eyelike spots,
11. flagellate. . . . . . . . . . . whip-like,
12. lamellate. . . . . . . . . . . with thin plates or scales,
13. patellate. . . . . . . . . . . like a kneecap, moveable and convex and flattened,
14. stellate. . . . . . . . . . . star-like, radiating,
15 rostellate. . . . . . . . . . . with what lice and tapeworms use instead of mouths. Also a rootlet or like one,
16. scutellate. . . . . . . . . . . covered with scales,
17. penicillate. . . . . . . . . . . pencil-shaped or tufted,
18. verticillate. . . . . . . . . . . arranged in a whorl round a stem or short stalk,
19. sigillate. . . . . . . . . . . marked with impressions that look like seals,
20. mammillate. . . . . . . . . . . nippled or nipple-like,
21. papillate. . . . . . . . . . . small and soft and fleshy projections like nipples,
22. pupillate. . . . . . . . . . . with a central spot,
23. fibrillate. . . . . . . . . . . split into filaments,
24. vexillate. . . . . . . . . . . with a petal like a banner,
25. decollate. . . . . . . . . . . cut off short,
26. corollate. . . . . . . . . . . like or with a coronet,
27. cucullate. . . . . . . . . . . hooded or hoodlike,
28. lanceolate. . . . . . . . . . . tapered at each end,
29. urceolate. . . . . . . . . . . shaped like a pitcher,
30. lineolate. . . . . . . . . . . marked with minute lines,
31. areolate. . . . . . . . . . . marked by intersecting lines,
32. faveolate. . . . . . . . . . . cellular, honeycombed,
33. alveolate. . . . . . . . . . . vaulted like a beehive, honeycombed,
34. trifoliolate. . . . . . . . . . . with three leaflets,
35 petiolate. . . . . . . . . . . with a stalk connecting to or supporting something else,
36. inviolate. . . . . . . . . . . unbroken,
37. prolate. . . . . . . . . . . extended towards the longer axis,
38. vacuolate. . . . . . . . . . . with one or more small cavities, often filled with fluid,
39. mandibulate. . . . . . . . . . . with organs for chewing,
40. infundibulate. . . . . . . . . . . funnel-shaped,
41. vestibulate. . . . . . . . . . . of or like a vestibule,
42. subulate. . . . . . . . . . . awl-shaped,
43. tubulate. . . . . . . . . . . of or like a tube,
44. immaculate. . . . . . . . . . . spotless,
45. tentaculate. . . . . . . . . . . with or like tentacles,
46. sacculate. . . . . . . . . . . consisting of sacs,
47. trabeculate. . . . . . . . . . . with one or more small beams or bars,
48. orbiculate. . . . . . . . . . . in the form of an orb,
49. aciculate. . . . . . . . . . . needle-shaped,
50. fasciculate. . . . . . . . . . . with small bunches or bundles,
51. pediculate. . . . . . . . . . . with small stalks,
52. canaliculate. . . . . . . . . . . minutely grooved,
53. vermiculate. . . . . . . . . . . decorated with wavy lines,
54. paniculate. . . . . . . . . . . loosely arranged or branching like a cluster of flowers,
55. geniculate. . . . . . . . . . . abruptly bent like a knee,
56. apiculate. . . . . . . . . . . abruptly ending in a little point,
57. spiculate. . . . . . . . . . . slender and sharp-pointed,
58. turriculate. . . . . . . . . . . with a long spire,
59. auriculate. . . . . . . . . . . with ears or earlike,
60. vesiculate. . . . . . . . . . . bladdery,
61. straticulate. . . . . . . . . . . arranged as thin strata,
62. reticulate. . . . . . . . . . . with intersecting lines,
63. denticulate. . . . . . . . . . . finely toothed,
64. articulate. . . . . . . . . . . jointed,
65. inarticulate. . . . . . . . . . . not jointed, dumb,
66. particulate. . . . . . . . . . . with very small parts,
67. multiarticulate. . . . . . . . . . . many jointed,
68. testiculate. . . . . . . . . . . shaped like testicles,
69. unguiculate. . . . . . . . . . . clawlike,
70. carunculate. . . . . . . . . . . with an excrescence,
71. oculate. . . . . . . . . . . with eye-like markings,
72. uniloculate. . . . . . . . . . . one chambered,
73. multiloculate. . . . . . . . . . . many chambered,
74. operculate. . . . . . . . . . . with a lid,
75. ligulate. . . . . . . . . . . strap- shaped,
76. angulate. . . . . . . . . . . angular,
77. triangulate. . . . . . . . . . . marked with triangles,
78. lingulate. . . . . . . . . . . tongue-shaped,
79. ungulate. . . . . . . . . . . hoof-shaped,
80. cellulate. . . . . . . . . . . made of cells,
81. stellulate. . . . . . . . . . . shaped like a small star or small stars,
82. campanulate. . . . . . . . . . . bell-shaped,
83. crenulate. . . . . . . . . . . finely notched or scalloped,
84. annulate. . . . . . . . . . . ringed, consisting of rings or segments,
85. lunulate. . . . . . . . . . . crescent-shaped,
86. copulate. . . . . . . . . . . joined, connected,
87. cupulate. . . . . . . . . . . cup-shaped,
88. spherulate. . . . . . . . . . . with one or more rows of minute spheres,
89. serrulate. . . . . . . . . . . with minute notches,
90. spatulate. . . . . . . . . . . a flat elongated shape often with modifications for various uses,
91. punctulate. . . . . . . . . . . marked with small spots,
92. ustulate. . . . . . . . . . . looking scorched,
93. and cumulate. . . . . . . . . . . cumulative,

late indeed,
though not so much even him as these so various and belated sea creatures, not yet polished off by pollution and man-unkind. There was no-one else there. They must have all gone. And left him with these uneaten sea creatures, most of them not see-able with the naked eye, but delineated in the several books before him. So much for the party he had thrown, to celebrate the publication of the volumes he had put together, but which he had been unable to attend for the usual reasons: delayed take?off due to fog, and then no taxi when he did arrive at an unearthly and unexpected hour at his last but one destination. Anyway he was here, and God knew he was not here often, and this was as good a time as any to see if the place was haunted, as it was reputed to be. Well, at least the maids he had hired for the party had cleaned up after it, and the guests were a decent lot whom he had invited and could be relied on not to make too much mess, though there were, now he examined it, one or two red wine stains on the Axminster that wouldn’t be easy to take out, and some more stains on the parquetry in the library and then he dropped a magnifying glass that he had forgotten was still in his hand and cut himself on a sliver that had broken off and which he didn’t pick up carefully enough and added a few drops of blood to the dried up stains on the floor. He certainly was tired and feeling his age. But the old boy who had owned the place before him had had good taste, and he didn’t regret buying what was left after the auction after his death, and adding discreetly to it now and then. He had been called the last rich scientist, Nobel winners apart, and he felt that on the whole he had made good use of his inheritance.

He looked through the magnifying glass at a page he had opened at random to once more appraise the quality of the reproduction and to feel the pleasure from a job so well done, and was surprised to see a clouded red film taking up all the view. He quickly moved the glass away and could see with the naked eye that there was no film there. He tried again, putting the glass in position, and the same thing occurred, and occurred on every page he subsequently tried, and with three different magnifiers. Time to check his eyes. But a look in the mirror reassured him about them. Nothing wrong there. And he was about to turn away when the red film began to appear in its centre, where it stayed, looking suspiciously like blood, from beside which, to his fascinated horror, first some flagstones appeared and then wavered and faded and gave way to parquetry. He felt that someone was watching him behind his back although not reflected in the mirror. He half turned his head, and saw the ghost of Rumwinkle who looked substantial and nodded at him as if in approbation and said, "You have remarkable psychic powers," and then seemed to politely wait for a reply.

And when there wasn’t a reply, Rumwinkle disappeared in and with the twinkle of an eye. Doyle had slowly and gently collapsed onto the floor. He had fallen asleep from exhaustion.


Thirty thousand years from now, in the future or the past, Ann Kimberly and John Stornaway, a couple now, having been married long ago, having taken their age inhibitors and suicide preventers and other necessary things, put their spaceship on automatic and put themselves into a sleep that was to last till they reached the planet of the star of their destination, Arcturus, to which they had been inspired to go to by the descriptions of its perils and pleasures, and splendours and miseries, in the greatest book of extra-terrestrial adventure ever written, "Voyage to Arcturus," in which David Lindsay, like a cripple winning a footrace in the Olympics, overcomes his workaday prose, third-rate on the first page, second rate for the next 48 pages, and bursts out into his vision of Arcturus from the first moment he manages to set foot on it despite the spit-and-string means of his getting there; and who, despite the two-dimensionality of his descriptions of the people who inhabit it, adds them up in such a way that there is no fuller description of people in any book that purports like a pilgrim’s progress to cover the range of human being.

The stretch too of Lindsay’s genius is shown in that book, not by the mere noting of the two new primary colours he saw there, but in overcoming the impossibility of describing them.

Kimberley’s and Stornaway’s only cargo, of which they were unaware, was a group of convivial stowaway ghosts, who manifested soon after the hatches of the sleeping berths were closed, and took the form of the colours and shapes of an aurora borealis as a fitting prelude to their arrival on Arcturus. They went with a view to settling there. Their ringleader was Rumwinkle, and his companions were now the ghosts of the people who were alive earlier in this book. After a time, the borealis took on the tempo of an orgy, but it was nothing like the one in Rumwinkle’s painting.

The End.

© David Kozubei 1999