Of course, said Amy, thumping The Culture quite unnecessary. Cultures already thumped. Thumping necessary later when milk added.
True, I said, but it helped Kurd Maverick. It was an excuse for him to have the Valkyrie on board and later thumping helped him ease the guilt at losing The Culture overboard. You shouldn’t overlook the human angle. What happened to Kurd Maverick by the way?
I had paid him the agreed fee for the voyage. The son had agreed a tidy sum with the insurance company for the salvage and had been good enough to promise me a 10% introducer’s commission. He had also secured the long-term services of the elder Valkyrie. She was the only non-philosopher in the crew but she had turned out to be a navigational genius, including dead reckoning when that became necessary. The son told me tales of luxury motor yachts, owned or chartered by the sleazier type of investment bankers, emerging from a spot of sea mist to find the Scintilla or The Jolly Thought right alongside, the crew armed and implacable.
The other Valkyrie had slipped away – to Europe, or somewhere.
Kurd Maverick had been back in Germany, said Amy. But he return. He want sample Parrot. Pieces of eight, and so on.
Sample Parrot for his music?
Yes. One problem. Kurd Maverick passion for dairy product. More than music. He want credit Parrot as Rick Otter. Dairy product theme pun. Daughter two say no, he no Rick Otter, he Parrot.
I’d never thought of that, I said. I’m sure they can sort the credit out.
Pun good in German too. Otter same word.
Fischotter better for sea otter like Parrot but otter OK. Still good joke.
Otter mean snake too, in German.
That’s not funny though.
One more problem. Grant authority demand grant back unless Parrot finish language course. So son send linguistic philosopher ashore to Southampton.
Parrot’s a busy otter, what with creating musical masterpieces and learning to talk English. He’s also treasure-hunting on dives with daughter two. She says he has a real nose for an artefact. And of course they have become close friends. He’s moved in with her. I’m not sure what her boyfriend thinks about it.
Maybe, I thought, if Kurd Maverick samples Parrot that will be just the sort of evidence the grant authority would be impressed by. There’s a word for it that the son told me.
Your face funny, said Amy, changing the subject.
I’d just come from the dentist.
I had a root canal operation, I said, but an hour in he found that the tooth was far worse than he thought. I can save it, the dentist said, but not without risking the life of the host.
The host? I had said to him. Me? Save the host. Bugger the tooth.
He had winced. I had injured his professional pride.
Thank God he wasn’t a Catholic, I said.
We will thank Allah when there are no Catholics at all any more.
It was The Jibjab Woman, sitting in the corner. I hadn’t noticed her.
Hello, Jibjab Woman.
I heard her smile disturbing the cloth of the jibjab where it covered her mouth.
You can call me Jib, she said.
And You Can Call Me Al.
Amy sniggered. Once again I was amazed by what she knows of Western culture and what she doesn’t. She’d looked absolutely blank, for instance, when I mentioned Apa’tman, the great Golden Age Montenegrin warlord, to her. The Jibjab Woman would not of course be familiar, for many reasons, with the songs of Paul Simon.
Does it hurt? Amy said.
I used a coarse expression indicating assent.
She disappeared into a back room and returned with some dark liquid in a glass.
Drink up – but don’t go cycling after.
I thanked her and took the glass, with two hands, bowing slightly, in accordance with good manners. I said that I had always regarded Lance Armstrong as in a league of his own as regards chemical relief from this life’s challenges and hurts.
But back to The Culture, I said. Is it what you hoped for?
At first salty. Not surprising. Still salty, a little. Not too salty now. Very powerful. Very good dreams. Much better than the other kefir in London. Much better than Mr Lee’s tired old opium. Up yours for Mr Lee’s stakeholders.
Are you selling it yet?
Not yet. Soon. We have launch party. With celebrities. No more hiding. Great Secret Miss Slumber Party.
Impact, it’s called, I said, what the grant authorities like. It means cross-disciplinary; not narrow focus. And nothing’s as cross-disciplinary as our Parrot.
Sorry, I said, for interrupting.
Are you interested in Great Secret Miss Slumber Party or not?
Of course. I’ll be there.
Dame Jenni™ Murray?