Tag Archives: Apa’tman

Your Arse

I was walking with Bella, the dog, to West Ham Park for our daily constitutional. We passed a house from which we could clearly hear Fairytale of New York. This was not the recorded version. There were two voices, a man’s and a woman’s, exchanging the insults crafted all those years ago by Shane MacGowan when he wrote the song. They were accompanied by a piano. Their voices were live. From the street they sounded as if they might have originated in the Indian Subcontinent.

You scumbag, you maggot
You cheap lousy faggot
Happy Christmas your arse
I pray God it’s our last

they sang.

Then there was the peremptory sound of someone tapping on a hard surface to attract the singers’ attention, so that they stopped singing, and then there was the sound of a third voice, also I would guess from the Indian Subcontinent, possibly the pianist’s:

“Not ‘Happy Christmas your arse’. Not ‘your arse’. ‘Yer arse.’ ‘Yer’. Again!”

As we passed on up the street, Bella and I, and out of range, I could hear improvement, a distinct MacGowanesque sneer. I wondered in what context the finished performance would take place. Would we be allowed to hear it?

I told the story to our neighbour Maria. I had dropped in on my way home from the park to apologise that Augustus Sly, who had been despatched to Vienna to investigate possible links between her bottom and that of the model who sat (‘sat’ is of course is absolutely the wrong word for what she did in this instance, but there is no other one) for Egon Schiele, seemed to have disappeared. He had not reported to me and he was no longer picking up calls to his mobile. In fact I was rather worried, and also cross, since I had paid for him to go to Vienna in the first place.

“Has he got your credit card details, there in Vienna?”

“No, he hasn’t, and anyway I trust him to that extent, but he’s quite capable of getting bored with your bottom and going off on a wild goose chase. When I first met him, as a matter of fact, he had taken himself to Montenegro to travel the length and breadth of that country, tracing the tracks – so he told me at the time: the forced marches, the triumphal processions – of the great Sixteenth Century Balkan warlord Apa’tman. We met by coincidence when I was uploading a post to my blog from a café in Montenegro that had WiFi.”

“Ah, Apa’tman. He is my country too,” said Maria.

“Apa’tman was in Romania too?”

“Great bloodshed.”

“A great man, I think, in the end.”

“Great bloodshed.”

Actually I know little of the detail of the career of the great Sixteenth Century Balkan warlord Apa’tman, so I changed the subject and told her, as I have related, the story of the performance, overheard from the street, of Fairytale of New York.

“’Yer arse!’”, she exclaimed.

“That’s what I call multiculturalism,” I said, “a song about America, written and recorded by Irish people living in London and now being redone by Indian people living in London. What a great city we live in!”

“No, that’s not multiculturalism,” said Maria, frowning. “Multiculturalism is when people say that because I am Romanian I am prostitute and a thief and I can complain about this, which is hate crime. I am told this by a person from the Council.”

“Multiculturalism has different aspects,” I said. “It is a subtle business, this multiculturalism.”

“I am not prostitute and a thief.”

“It never occurred to me that you were.”

“My good friend Lavinia is both, but I am not prostitute and a thief.”

I wondered whether to return conversationally to Apa’tman or to call it a day, and decided on the latter.

“I’ll be on my way. I just thought that you might be curious about what Augustus Sly might have discovered about a link between you and the woman in the Schiele picture.”

She drew the different conversational strands together:

Yer want to see my arse?”

We escaped.

“Aren’t people difficult?” I said to Bella.

Obviously, being a dog, she neither understood nor replied, but I suspect that she sympathises. When we are in West Ham Park she avoids the company of other dogs. I believe that she regards this as a sensible precaution since she was bitten there by a liver-coloured bitch, but I don’t think that she warms to other dogs in principle. People too she will accept if we introduce them to her but they are of no interest otherwise. When we stand outside food shops, which the better half enters alone since Bella would be a health and safety issue, and people come up to us and try to engage her attention, she regards them with contempt.

“Does he bite?” they say, shivering deliciously and prodding at her from arm’s length.

“Seldom,” I say, wondering yet again why cynophobes are usually so incapable of sexing the objects of their fear.

Augustus Sly has sometimes accused me of having imaginary friends. He believes that Amy is a metaphor and has often said so, though not to her face. Bella certainly has imaginary friends. Her favourite is Dead Rabbit, a constant bed-fellow and companion whom she always gathers up into her mouth at times of excitement. He has a limp and vestigial physical existence but his friendship is entirely imaginary.

Lest this sound cute, she then shakes him vigorously so as to break his neck, again. She is a terrier, after all.

Some people have said recently that the Jesus and the Rabbit sequence, on the restricted access part of this blog, is rather running out of steam. Perhaps I should introduce Dead Rabbit into it. That would beef it up as bit.

Actually if I am going to do that I should continue this whole discussion on the restricted access section. I’ll do that now, if you’ll excuse me.

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A bit of high-level intellectual colloquy

‘Fire away,’ I said to Augustus Sly.

‘Montenegro,’ he said. ‘Ah, Montenegro.’

We were in London.

‘Or Crna Gora, as the locals have it,’ he said. His pronunciation was just so.

‘Montenegro,’ I said, ‘since you are interviewing me on the subject, is a boost to creativity. Of course, as a country, you shouldn’t judge it by February. It was cold and it rained. It reminded me of the west of Ireland from the days when I used to go there. In Ireland it rained and the cold got you deep down. Ireland and Montenegro both, you would hunch in front of some electric fan heater so that your face burned and your feet still felt like ice. It couldn’t be as cold as it felt, to judge by the temperature gauge in the hired Corsa: I suppose that it was the damp that got into the house and your bones and could only be dispelled by living there.

‘The difference between Montenegro and Ireland,’ I said, ‘is twofold: the music and the gossip. In Ireland there is always music: furious music through an open door, as Mike Scott says.’

‘Waterboys,’ said Augustus Sly.

‘Just so. Room to Roam. In Montenegro, there’s also always music, but it’s Europop…’

‘Kurd Maverick?’ said Augustus Sly.

‘At best.

‘And in Ireland,’ I said, ‘there are always stories. There’s gossip about the people who live there. So and so has become a lesbian. So and so has become a potter. So and so was JFK’s real father, still alive, by God. Such and such a church is the oldest in Europe, celebrated in poems and songs now lost. In that valley they still talk Latin – away from the incomers and the tourists, of course. In Montenegro there are probably stories too, but they’re lost on me, not having the Serbo-Croatian. So I’m driven to making them up.’

‘Kurd Maverick?’ said Augustus Sly.

‘He’s real, actually – but I have made him do things that he didn’t really do. He’s cool with it. No, I was thinking of Apa’tman, the great Sixteenth Century warlord who put his enemies to the sword and then subdued the nation with the benign aid of kefir, but would not survive a Google search.’

‘Apa’tman,’ said Augustus Sly, ‘is not a happy creation. With respect.’

‘Please don’t say ‘with respect’,’ I said. ‘It nearly always comes across as either rude or smug.’

‘In my case?’

‘Smug.’

‘Apa’tman is wholly unbelievable,’ Augustus Sly said. ‘Like Dame Jenni ™ Murray, another of your obviously made-up characters that you lay on with a trowel.’

‘Do you think,’ I said, ‘that there is a danger of making the whole thing more self-referential that it already is if we continue in this vein?’

‘Were you planning to record our conversations?’

‘This?’

‘Yes.’

‘Post them?’

‘Of course.’

‘That was the plan: if your questions were sufficiently amusing. My readers like nothing more than a bit of high-level intellectual colloquy.’

Augustus Sly studied the end of his pencil. He was on his mettle now.

‘Great Secret Miss,’ he said.

‘Ah. Tricky, that.’

‘Where is it, do you think?’

‘I can’t of course say exactly where it is or it would be inundated by my thousands of Followers, which would spoil its peculiar ambience. Soho, I suppose, with The Kingdom further up towards the Euston Road. It has certain Magic Toyshop qualities, though, hovering between real life and the world of dreams. You may not be able easily to see it from the street.’

‘And Uncle Edgerton…’

‘Everyone hates Uncle Edgerton.’

‘No. No. The whole zombie thing. Fascinating. In a way…’

‘What I felt, I’d been very brave. Credit was due.’

Augustus Sly ignored that.

‘The whole zombie thing,’ I said, ‘as you call it. What’s your take on that, then?’

‘Oh,’ said Augustus Sly. ‘Post-ironic anomie. That whole thing. It’s a rather important element of my thesis, actually. Won’t say any more if you’re, you know…’

‘… posting. Of course. Internet piracy. You wouldn’t want anyone else stealing a march.’

‘I’ve been burned before,’ said Augustus Sly. ‘Peer review! Ha! Peer theft more like.’

‘Not on your alablague research?’

‘No. No. A thing on Barthes. Barthes: Roland or Simpson? Peer theft more like.’

‘I’m sorry to hear it. If I do a post about this do you want me to take out the bit about post-ironic anomie?’

‘Yes please,’ said Augustus Sly.

He stared at the end of his pencil again.

‘What will you call it?’ I said. ‘Your thesis?’

‘Before the colon or after?’

‘Ng?’

‘All titles of theses are split about a colon. Pilate Jests: Truth and Lies in the Alablague Blog. Barthes: Roland or Simpson? . That sort of thing.’

‘Is that it? There’s no Pilate in my blog.’

‘No it isn’t the title. That’s a secret. Of course there isn’t Pilate actually in your blog. That would be too blatant a channeling of Master and Marguerite even for you. ‘

Augustus Sly flipped his fingers into aerial quotation marks when he said ‘channeling’.

‘But ‘alablague’’, he went on, ‘ – ‘in jest’ in French; Canadian French anyway – is an obvious reference to jesting Pilate.’

‘Bollocks,’ I said. ‘It’s my surname.’

‘My daughter,’ I said, ‘like you an aspiring PhD, likes to drape her thesis titles around a semi-colon, incidentally, rather than the colon as more generally found.’

‘Bollocks,’ said Augustus Sly.

‘I suppose you’re not telling me the title because of the post-ironic anomie business.’

‘Bollocks,’ said Augustus Sly.

‘I’ll get it out of you.’

He fell silent and ruminated for a moment – figuratively, of course, on account of having only one stomach.

Or so I assume: our acquaintance is still too young for confidences of that nature.

Clearly he was working up to something.

‘Big one,’ he said.

I realised at once that he was not attempting to flatter me by using the vocative case. He meant, ‘This is the big one.’ It was usage I had come across before.

‘Mm?’ I said.

‘Who is Amy?’ said Augustus Sly.

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Augustus Sly

Last time we were in Montenegro it was necessary to use the ox-drawn Wi-Fi cart to connect to the internet. In the meantime unfortunately it has passed on. The man who controls the ox-drawn Wi-Fi cart has not died, but he has moved into the interior, where there are no tourists or Russians with motor yachts; to the little villages where life is slow, where the children stare at you unblinkingly as you drive through in your hired Corsa, and where the composition of a tweet is a matter for a family council.

(These family councils often take weeks and result in feuds, according to the Tourism Office.)

The hired Corsa: that was an adventure too. We had identified a hire company through one of those websites where you can obtain bargains. We had booked a VW Polo online. When we got to the airport, however, there was no little shed bearing the name of the organisation that had taken our order and our money. There were Hertz and Europcar and the others but not ours. We were beginning to suspect fraud when an unnaturally tall young man sidled up and muttered our name.

‘Alablague?’

He muttered it with the strong but musical tones of one who speaks the pure Serbo-Croatian only found in the environs of Dubrovnik airport.

‘Here your car.’

It was a Corsa.

‘It’s a Corsa,’ we said. ‘Not a Polo.’

‘Is same.’

It wasn’t same, as we discovered later when its little engine strained in an un-Volkswagen-like way at the vertiginous Montenegrin mountain passes, but that was academic as it was the only car that he had.

Anyway, without the ox-drawn Wi-Fi cart it was necessary to drive the hired Corsa into the local town, where they have Wi-Fi in the cafés.

I had sent everything that I needed to send. O and the better half had gone to climb a mountain, which rose conveniently straight out of the Old Town, and I needed a rest before attempting the second half of an enormous crêpe that I had ordered.

‘Alablague?’

This time the tones were pure Oxford: the English equivalent, I suppose, when it comes to purity of tone, of the environs of Dubrovnik airport as regards Serbo-Croatian. I turned to face a young man. I had never seen him before.

‘You have the advantage of me.’

‘Sly,’ he said. ‘Augustus Sly. I’m your greatest fan.’

‘In that case you’d better sit down. Do you like minced beef crêpes? I’m not sure that I’m going to finish this one.’

He inspected my plate with the air of one who customarily looks a gift horse in the mouth.

‘Not minced beef, I think. Krk.’

‘I’m sorry.’

Krk.’

Krk?’

Krk. The meat of feral dogs. A delicious sausage made from krk is a speciality of the monks of the famous Ostrog Monastery.’

‘I have not,’ I said, ‘visited Ostrog Monastery on account of the vertiginosity – if that is the word – of its approaches, nor sampled its cuisine. We did’ – I pushed the plate across the table to him – ‘visit another monastery. They had three fragments of the True Cross, the hand of Saint John the Baptist and the whole of Saint Nicholas. It was rather moving. I lit a candle for the dead.’

‘That would be Cetinje,’ said Augustus Sly, tucking into his krk crêpe.

‘You seem very familiar with local ways.’

‘One of the three fragments of the True Cross has been the subject of scepticism in certain quarters.’

‘Ng?’

‘MDF,’ said Augustus Sly, in a whisper.

‘No!’

He ate in silence. I sipped at my green tea. One of the nice things about Montenegro is that a request for tea, tout court, yields green rather than black tea. I made a mental note to tell Amy this when we were both safely back in London: me from Montenegro and she from China, or Kettering. Amy loves green tea as much as I do.

‘What you haven’t explained,’ I said, ‘is how you know me and why you addressed me by name in a café in a small Montenegrin port.’

‘If I am familiar with local ways,’ said Augustus Sly, ‘it is because I have travelled the length and breadth of this country, over some six weeks now, tracing the tracks – the forced marches: the triumphal processions – of the great Sixteenth Century Balkan warlord Apa’tman. Does that answer your question?’

I was lost for words.

‘Even now,’ persisted Augustus Sly, ‘you see traces of him everywhere: his name on handwritten signs beside the road…’

‘I’m fairly certain,’ I said, ‘that I made Apa’tman up.’

‘Exactly,’ said Augustus Sly.

Had he not been English, I might even have written: “‘Exactly!’ cried Augustus Sly.”

‘Humour me,’ I said. ‘I am far from home. I have eaten half a crêpe filled with dead dog, to which I am not accustomed. Pretend I am very stupid.’

Augustus Sly licked his fork and put it on his empty plate. Then he licked his lips.

‘Fine krk. Fresh, I’d venture.’

I sighed.

‘I am a student,’ he said.

‘As are we all – in this vale of tears.’

‘You misunderstand. I am a student. My jacket is of corduroy and the elbows are patched. I have a grant. And I have committed to deliver a doctoral thesis to the University of P-.’

‘If it is a thesis about Apa’tman I would not be confident of your securing a pass mark, on account of his not having existed.’

‘No, you fool. Not Apa’tman. Alablague. You.’

‘Goodness,’ I said.

‘So we need to talk.’

I thought about this. Should I be flattered? It was too sudden, really, to tell.

‘You need to talk,’ I said. ‘I’m not sure that I do. What’s in it for me?’

‘I can be useful,’ said Augustus Sly, with, I am afraid, a leer. He took my bill (they give them to you as soon as they serve you in Montenegro) and a grubby banknote from his pocket. ‘Tovarich,’ he called, to the not unattractive young woman lurking nearby for just that purpose.

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Of Ducks and Drugs

“I am reading,” Amy said, “a very good book about a duck. In English; this book not translated for Chinese.”

Since she discovered that Anthony Powell was a writer she has become a keen reader of English fiction.

“About a duck?”

“It is a big duck, very dignity, and sometimes he changes into another person, very bad, have a good time. Then he is a duck again.”

“A duck: an aquatic bird found often on farms and also, once dead, in the windows of restaurants in Gerrard Street?”

“Not bird.” She laughed shortly. “Big big man. Very important man. Downton Abbey. Duck Ellington.”

“Oh, ‘duke’,” I said. “But I still don’t know a book about a duke who turns into another man. It sounds like Dr Jekyll & Mr Hyde. But he was a doctor not a duke.”

“Yes, yes. Doctor Jekyll. Not Duck Jekyll. Doctor very important people.”

“In Edinburgh, certainly.”

I wondered what she was making of Anthony Powell. He is famous after all for dissecting the relations between the English classes. Although his novels are not unsympathetic to the natural world – his cast of characters includes for example Sultan, Eleanor Walpole-Wilson’s dog, and Maisky, the monkey that kills the butler, Smith – there is little investigation of the social relations between species: unless Maisky’s killing Smith counts.

Amy’s confusion, I reflected, merited further thought. Of course her pronouncing ‘duke’ as ‘duck’ was amusing but neither here nor there: she knew what she meant. Muddling doctors with dukes was a different matter.

I’m not sure that I have actually read Dr Jekyll & Mr Hyde, but, like most English people I feel as if I have. To Amy, on the other hand, coming from south-east China by way, possibly, of Kettering, it was entirely fresh. She wasn’t to know that late-Nineteenth-Century Edinburgh had a ruling caste which included doctors but didn’t include dukes. The nabobs of Edinburgh were Scots; dukes were to be found further North, in the grouse-infected Highlands, and they were English.

Doctor Jekyll transforms himself into Mr Hyde by means of an elixir, a drug of his own devising. I have a vague memory of Spencer Tracy in a film version wrestling with retorts and pipettes as the effects get to him. Was hair on the back of the hand involved, or was that werewolves? Amy also wasn’t to know that dukes do not prepare their own elixirs. Persons on lower grades of the peerage might. Anthony Powell in A Dance to the Music of Time has an Earl of Warminster living at about the same time as Dr Jekyll who is known as ‘the Chemist Earl’, and he was no doubt a dab hand at both retorts and pipettes. But earls are earls and they are not dukes. If a duke wants an elixir he rings for it.

Amy is much more knowledgeable than I am about many things, but one of them is her own elixir, kefir, as regards which she is currently presiding over a curious see-saw effect involving me and my double, the assassin Alfredo. I have recorded that Amy’s kefir is the real stuff. The sheepskins within which the intestinal flora of sheep were first combined with dairy products to create the original Culture from which Amy’s product is grown were first beaten, so as to advance the fermentation process, by camp followers of the Sixteenth Century Montenegrin warlord Apa’tman, and in more recent times by Kurd Maverick and his Valkyries as they carried the Culture across the sea. Amy’s kefir bears as much relation to that purchasable in little Eastern European corner shops as a forty-year-old Ardbeg does to a bottle of Old Tartan Trews Blended, purchasable for £7 from the same sort of shop. For one thing, it is much stronger.

Like all drugs there comes a point at which it stops working. Kefir is a benign drug and the solution is not to take more but to stop and rest for a week or two. That is what I am doing, but the traces still surge through my blood and where they would formerly have stimulated my dreams now they just keep me awake, and, as I have recorded, they coat daytime life with a baleful veneer. And even though I have stopped taking the drug, I still wake up, having finally achieved some sleep, with the true kefir headache, what Goethe, bless him, called Kefirs Katzenjammer.

At the same time Alfredo is in the joyful opening sequence. He cannot get enough of it. For a few nights now he has not come back to our flat at all. He stays at Great Secret Miss nearly all the time. Sometime you see him in the lobby reading a couple of the magazines that he likes to buy at the international newsagent on the corner, but usually he is in one of the back rooms. Amy has assigned three of her girls exclusively to help him and they work round the clock, eight hours each. She is rather proud of their progress.

“He has many bad things. He process them in dreams.”

“And he processes them so that the dreams themselves are not bad?”

“Yes, kefir dreams benign. Vivid but benign. Even with Putin.”

She spat.

“Sometimes there are very large snakes, but not usually. Depend on person. Putin,” she said, “obviously not processing very bad things. Has kefir every night, so we are told, but goes on doing them. Probably low-grade supermarket product.”

One of the girls gave me to understand that the details of Alfredo’s ‘many bad things’ were hair-raising. But of course discretion is the absolute priority and I shall never know what Alfredo doesn’t tell me himself.

“Like Dr Jekyll,” I said, drawing a parallel. “He has the elixir, becomes his evil self and emerges purified.”

Amy gave me to understand that his was an absurdly sentimental interpretation of a rather hard-headed book. Not, as I say, having read it I didn’t argue.

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Yachts Setting Out

I love to watch yachts setting out. It’s like dogs: the same sense of intent but inscrutable purpose. With yachts it might be a rendezvous with a drug dealer at sea, an attempt on an unknown passage or fishing field or a voyage to a medieval city. With dogs the purpose is even more inscrutable but usually involves smells.

I like the way that they set out using their engine, intending to hoist sail once outside the bay.

After a very good lunch of locally and recently caught calamari, watching boats embark from the Mosquito Coast, I am reminded of Albania in its phase as a glorious Marxist beacon of freedom, where there was in principle the same access as here to delicious calamari but it was illegal to seek them out in boats, as experience suggested to those benevolently guiding the affairs of the glorious Marxist beacon that anyone with a mile of water between himself and said beacon would scuttle off to Italy and never come back.

I came down here early. I have secured a kefir culture for Amy. Discrete enquiries revealed that in this matter British Airways could not be bribed, and of course the culture could not be concealed among our luggage and smuggled in, contained as it was in a great sheepskin and apparently still requiring a beating every few minutes from adolescent girls. It was of great antiquity, going back at least to the Sixteenth Century.

The great Balkan warlord Apa’tman had famously used kefir from this very culture to provide his crack troops with appropriate dreams. These were of such invincibility that Apa’tman’s army had prevailed against great odds at the appallingly bloody but decisive Battle of The Black Applefield (1508) and then afterwards the kefir had encouraged dreams of such docility that the people had acquiesced without a murmur in his bloody but decisive rule.

Of course Apa’tman’s culture was at best a remote ancestor of mine. Nevertheless the lineage had preserved its mystery. No trace of it would be found in the kefir to be found in the supermarkets: some farmhouses in the mountains, yes; the general public, no. It was a privilege to have secured some for Amy and it would be invaluable for her in combating her competitors in general and Mr Lee’s stakeholders in particular.

In the circumstances it is properly respectful to capitalise it: The Culture.

The privilege was owed to the mayor, as was my introduction to the man who would carry The Culture for me to England. Kurd Maverick…

(METAFICTION SPOILER ALERT

(Alert readers may have spotted that not everything in this blog is entirely true. The dog, for instance, does not really talk. (Of course this is admitted in the post entitled A Moment of Truth, but only in the rather Sternian (if that is the authentic Eng. Lit. expression) and therefore unreliable context of a fiction within a fiction within a fiction within a fiction.) (He really does have a problem with whisky though.) Neither Apa’tman nor the Battle of The Black Applefield will survive even a cursory Google search. Kurd Maverick however is as real as a poster campaign can make him. Unlike other men who feature on posters by the roads in Montenegro, particularly those aspiring to political office whose instructions to the photographer appear to have been: ‘Try and make me look as shifty as you can’, Kurd is a magnificent if two-dimensional presence in his singlet and designer stubble, brooding, snarling and muscle-bound.

(I imagine that he is something in pop music.

(Which is a pity as Montenegrin pop music is probably the worst in the world. It is witless and disco and it is everywhere. Spending time in most Montenegrin shops, restaurants or beaches without ear plugs is like living in the losing rounds of the Eurovision Song Contest without the frocks.

(Kurd Maverick is real. His involvement in running kefir cultures across national frontiers is however fanciful.

(But enough of this.)

…met me at the quayside

I have, he said, the boat, The Culture and the girls.

The girls, indeed: they were statuesque, with big hair, costumes out of Barbarella and a travelling bag each.

Are the girls strictly necessary? I thought … a mature culture … no longer any need.

Very desirable said Kurd firmly. They will beat The Culture in relay. If it is bad weather I will beat The Culture too.

I remembered what the mayor had said. Kurd’s instinctive feeling for kefir and for the intestinal flora of sheep and how to combine them with a subtle thump was of the sort that comes along once in a generation. The pop music was just a way of supporting a life dedicated to dairy products. It was a privilege to get his services.

Even so, the expense.

As if he read my thoughts, Kurd said, Girls complementary. No extra.

Was it a leer on his face? With all the Botox it was impossible to tell.

OK, I said. Keep in touch.

And without more ado the yacht pulled away from the jetty. The Culture stood proudly in the bow, like Queen Christina in the Garbo film or more recently the plump one whose name I could no doubt Google had the Wi Fi cart not just left, from that film about the Titanic. I watched the boat with pleasure until it rounded the headland and was lost to sight. Just for once, I knew its purpose.

As always the ridiculous followed the sublime. I fell asleep – last night I had dosed myself liberally with supermarket kefir and I needed more dreaming – and when I awoke the better half had joined me and there was another yacht leaving the jetty.

(Just remembered – Leonardo di Caprio.)

This yacht was owned by an entrepreneur whom I had met the previous evening. He had told me that he had had an opportunity to acquire a large number of rich but nutritious dinners and in order to stop anyone else getting them he had eaten them all. The truth of this boast was evident halfway down his front, especially as this morning he was dressed only in shorts.

His yacht set out and then stopped, drifting back whereupon it was secured to the jetty; and the process was then repeated. The entrepreneur was yelling at the crew. His face became red. I thought that there was something wrong with the engine, but the better half, who could understand what was being said better than I can, explained that they were practising leaving the jetty and coming back.

I could get into that. Yachts setting out, do it at all do it right.

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