(Carl Van Vechten, photographer.
Library of Congress. Wikipedia)
Maria Pilar Abel Martinez claims that you got pally
with her mother at Port Ligat.
The DNA sample should sort out that.
I posted this image of Samuel Beckett on my site last year.
It had quite a lot of ‘likes.’ I can prove it is my work as I
have the original painting.
Today I have been trawling through my site to find it
and it has disappeared. I wanted to show it to someone after
a photography programme on television last week mentioned
my friend, Jane Bown, who took the original photo, on which
I based my painting.
What’s going on, guys? It feels like it could be the subject of a
work of literature.
If anyone else can find it on my site, please let me know!
(The Parting of Sir Lancelot and Queen Guinevere
by Julia Margaret Cameron)
Since I live in the vicinity of Kelmscott now, here is an
old poem, re-blogged…
I raised a latch of a door in the wall
and immediately knew this was home.
The garden’s rosy superabundance
was a mille-fleurs embroidery stitching
raucous cawing of rooks from those high elms, the
swifts wheeling, doves’ cooing and blackbird song.
A mulberry tree was central. Pastel
hollyhocks nodded their welcome and men
scythed reeds and floated them down the river
under the willow trees’ gray-green flickers.
Lead waterspouts were limply supported
from the mellow masonry and woodworm
pricked the panelling. I felt not sadness,
but a beauty born of melancholy.
Leaving my charcoal overcoat downstairs,
I inspected the quaint garrets where once
tillers and herdsmen slept under the eaves.
The sloping floorboards creaked under my feet.
I realised she had never loved me.
How could she? Women are all shape-changers.
This house is an E with its tongue cut out,
so it will never prattle its scandal.
Betrayal’s woven in its tapestries:
Samson with his eyes gouged out for his love.
Please, dear Janey, be happy…I cannot
paint you, but I love you – and now leave you.
Some called it amitie amoureuse.
They dubbed me Guenevere, La Belle Iseult.
Once in this lost riverland, out of depth,
we drowned in our adulterous passion.
I heard carriages arriving at night,
so the cob’s harsh hooves had to be silenced
by leather shoes. I had no energy
when William was here, but took long walks
with Gabriel, who said our leaky punt
was not a poetic locomotion.
I keep my thoughts locked in my casket
in my bedroom. It was kind of Topsy
to bring me back that fine Icelandic smock.
Gabriel said it served his purposes well.
When they had Mouse the babes were not tiresome,
but Jenny’s impairment grows every day.
Tomorrow someone must trim the dragon.
In the studio I hear faint crying
over a stillborn child. He took chloral,
alcohol and would stay awake till five.
What was I to do with his exhumed verse?
Sir Lancelot had welded us as one.
I suppose I never loved him at all.
Tonight I left a pansy in Blunt’s room.
I am past sobbing that he does not come.
So, you went to Salisbury at the weekend?
Yes. To the ‘Celebrate Voice!’ Festival.
And heard what?
I sipped my Monk Pear tea. Schubert. Susan
Bullock, the Wagnerian soprano. She was singing
lieder. But I think that she was upstaged by the moon,
You can read my poem and decide for yourself.
Schubert in Salisbury
Our invisible feet traverse The Close
and we are shrouded in darkness. It’s there:
luminous, transcendent, yet immanent,
its sculpted details sharp in the moonlight.
Together, on this frosty evening,
our hearts ache from Schubert’s yearning lieder:
betrayal, grief, regret and bitterness.
Oh, farewell to the world- let them feel love;
they may thank you yet – sooner or later,
but tearfully– and probably too late.
In the medieval hall she sang to us
and we were insulated by the warmth,
the spotlit dais; the shiny Steinway.
Elbow to elbow, we brushed each other;
applauded to show solidarity.
But, propped up, in the great closed porch, a lone
cold, shadowy figure, tightly cocooned
in damp, lumpy bedding, breathes not a word.
The stone finger of God points to the sky,
as if to seal the lips of the divine.
Before us lies a man who has no voice,
but merely craves some heat from God’s stage door.
The singer did not bow to him tonight;
he did not hear the piano lid come down.
He falls asleep and hears the angels sing-
the spire above, his ladder up to Heaven.
And we, like Jacob, rooted to the earth,
wrestle and wrestle with our own demons.
The moon vanishes behind a dark cloud.
She sang: Und finster die Nacht, wie das Grab!*
The frozen sleeper turns onto his side
and we hurry, before the gates are locked.
*’and the night dark as the grave.’
cantadora, Catalan sausage, Clarissa Pinkola Estes, Cry Me A River, Cybele, Guernica, lacrymosa, Mater Dolorosa, Melbourne gallery, Picasso Dora Maar, saltimbanques, Semana Santa, Seville, suffering machine, torch song, unrequited love, Virgin of Guadalupe, Women Who Run With The Wolves
I like that song, ‘Cry Me A River’, Brassie said, meditatively.
Yes, it’s what is known as a ‘torch song’, I replied.
What is a ‘torch song’?
Oh, it’s based on the phrase about carrying a torch for someone.
You mean unrequited love? said Brassie.
Mmm. I used to think of those Cybele statues whenever I heard
that song, or cartoon characters spouting projectile tears.
Why are you bringing Cybele into it?
Oh, I just associate the over-production of breast milk with the over-
production of other body fluids, I suppose.
(Photo by Yair Haklai)
You’ve been going on about tears recently. I wonder why?
Well, I was just reading ‘Women Who Run With The Wolves… I began.
You would, interrupted Brassie. I wish she’d stop the annoying practice.
Read, or run? I countered.
Who wrote it? She ignores me!
Oh, someone called Clarissa Pinkola Estes.
Look of incomprehension.
She’s a Jungian psychoanalyst and cantadora. A woman who keeps old
stories. She wrote about tears in myths melting the icy heart. She reckons
that women cry to keep predators away. Tears mend rips in the psyche
and prevent one from sleeping and lowering one’s guard.
I would immediately think of the Picasso portrait of Dora Maar, Brassie
commented- quite astutely for her.
Woman as a ‘suffering machine’, according to Picasso. Did you know he
painted more than one version?
I think one was stolen from a gallery in Melbourne, wasn’t it?
Yes. They got it back, fortunately. He always claimed not to be repeating
the image through sadism and denied it gave him any kind of pleasure to
portray her like that. He just said that, for him, Dora was always a weeping
At least she went down in history for something, Brassie reflected. Oh, yes-
not ‘Dora was a first rate photographer.’ Just: ‘She was the one that
cried her eyes out.’
‘Maar’ is an interesting name. In the Old Testament the waters of Marah are
bitter and the name ‘Mary’ may be associated with tears. Jesus’ mother
certainly had plenty to cry about, didn’t she?
Oh yeah. ‘Mater Dolorosa’
Photo by Angel Cachon- Virgin of Guadalupe (Semana Santa, Seville)
Hmmm. Anyway, I tried to immortalise Dora Maar in a little poem I wrote
years ago. I discovered it during my cellar clear-out. Do you want to see it?
I might as well… (nothing like enthusiasm for one’s writing!)
Here! It’s a bit crumpled and I’ve edited it a bit, but there you go…
I tried to immortalise her too, I said, taking out my notebook. Along
with all his other weeping mistresses. But she will always be the arch
LADIES OF SORROW
I prematurely blossomed with rose-hued
saltimbanques. those dull, brutish critics gored
other artists, but I escaped attack:
a skilful matador…Who loved me best?
I’d say no woman, but my old friend, Braque.
When lovers left, they could, in truth, attest
I missed their dogs, more than I missed them. Did
I propose to Gaby? I don’t know. War,
its ghastly preoccupations, outbid
her for my attention. Yes, caviare
was Olga’s favourite; I preferred sausage-
Catalan, with beans. She wanted her face
recognisable; to be centre stage;
wanted too much from me, in any case.
Her image had by then begun to fade.
I was playing with Dora Maar (my mouse);
slashing Guernica with a razor blade,
careless of mistress, as careless of spouse.
Woman becomes a suffering machine.
When Nazis asked me: ‘Did you do this art?’
I replied: No. You did. When black with spleen,
Francoise and I could claw each other’s heart.
She who had resembled Venus became
Christ. Martyr. She left me – it was her loss.
She’d been expert at apportioning blame:
‘Who was it then who put me on the cross?’
I did, but, so doing, set them apart;
made them immortal in the realm of art.
Angel delight, Art in Action, begum's palace, Bradford, Chicken Tikka Masala, coriander, Cosmic Dance, Delamotte, joss sticks, kaftan, Kama Sutra, kohl, Laura Ashley, lotus, love beads, Naan bread, Pimms, Rimsky-korsakov, Sainsbury's, Sharwood, Shiva, The Silent Teacher, Vesta Taste of the Orient, Vindaloo, Waterperry
(Waterperry by Delamotte)
You didn’t go this year? Brassica asked. I thought
you went to Waterperry ‘Art in Action’ every year?
No, I only went twice, years ago. I don’t even know if it
is still on. I think I must have missed it, as it used to be
held mid-July. I seem to remember that it was boiling hot one
year. I enjoyed seeing a raku potter from Bath- Peter Hayes-
standing on a ladder and building a huge ceramic sculpture which
he was going to fire there and then.
Oh, you could book to take part in all sorts of activities.
I remember going to watch an Indian dancer.
And did you…?
Of course. I’ll have a look for it in my file at home and will
publish it on WordPress, so you can read it.
KAMA SUTRA IN WATERPERRY
(Image by Rusianejohn 26/2/2013)
This is Oxfordshire, hot as Vindaloo.
In The Eastern Asian Arts Tent they sweat,
as if they sat in a begum’s palace.
But the chairs are plastic; camcorders whir.
Polyester, pinch-pleated drapery
is the wrong backcloth, especially in peach.
The girl with the pleached plait and red bindi
gestures Shiva‘s flute, mimes supplication,
recreating an unseen world through smiles;
kohled eyes averted or upturned. Music.
An equivocal voice ululates and
scratchy birdsong emanates from speakers
hidden in some coleus. They sip Pimms
while she performs The Cosmic Dance with grace.
Middle-aged, sandalled Englishmen in shorts
film, agog, in open admiration,
fantasising exotic, erotic
movements in Laura Ashley bedrooms,
chintzed by mango-shaped, swollen-ankled wives,
who never had the sinuosity
of this dancer; never raised a heartbeat
to a drumbeat- not even in ethnic
kaftan days, when they fingered their love beads
over a Chicken Tikka Masala,
after their final exams. Eyes would stream.
Hot stuff. Half portions of rice were enough.
She would have been born then. Maybe she sprang
from a lotus flower, somewhere in Bradford.
While they were buying pine in B&Q,
she was inhaling joss sticks, sandalwood;
learning all about The Silent Teacher.
While they were doing supply in inner
city comps, they dreamt of vestal virgins,
returning home at five, to a Vesta
Taste of the Orient; Angel Delight
to follow. They planted coriander
in earthenware pigs on their window sills.
Their daughters pierced their nostrils and navels,
but somehow never looked at all like this.
Votive petals fall… Audience applause…
The dancer leaves in her drab Western clothes.
And in Sainsbury’s, the following week,
they put two-for-the-price-of-one Naan breads
into their trolleys, with some Sharwood spice;
hum Rimsky-Korsakov at the check-out;
thinking up one more story, to survive.
Because it’s relevant today:
No More Hiroshimas – James Kirkup (b. 1923, England)
taken by Charles Levy from a B-29 Superfortress used in the attack.
At the station exit, my bundle in my hand,
Early the winter afternoon’s wet snow
Falls thinly round me, out of a crudded sun.
I had forgotten to remember where I was
Looking about, I see it might be anywhere –
A station, a town like any other in Japan,
Ramshackle, muddy, noisy, drab; a cheerfully
Shallow permanence: peeling concrete, litter, ‘Atomic
Lotion, for hair fall-out,’ a flimsy department-store;
Racks and towers of neon, flashy over tiled and tilted waves
Of little roofs, shacks cascading lemons and persimmons,
Oranges and dark-red apples, shanties awash with rainbows
Of squid and octopus, shellfish, slabs or tuna, oysters, ice,
Ablaze with fans of soiled nude-picture books
Thumbed abstractedly by schoolboys, with second-hand looks.
The river remains unchanged, sad, refusing rehabilitation
In this long, wide, empty, official boulevard
The new trees are still small, the office blocks
Barely functional, the bridge a slick abstraction.
But the river remains unchanged, sad, refusing rehabilitation.
In the city centre, far from the station’s lively squalor,
A kind of life goes on, in cinemas and hi-fi coffee bars,
In the shuffling racket of pin-table palaces and parlous,
The souvenir-shops piled with junk, kimonoed kewpie-dolls,
Models of the bombed Industry Promotion Hall, memorial ruin
Tricked out with glitter-frost and artificial pearls.
Set in an awful emptiness, the modern tourist hotel is trimmed
With jaded Christmas frippery, flatulent balloons; in the hall,
A giant dingy iced cake in the shape of a Cinderella coach.
Deserted, my room an overheated morgue, the bar in darkness.
Punctually, the electric chimes ring out across the tidy waste
Their doleful public hymn – the tune unrecognisable, evangelist
Here atomic peace is geared to meet the tourist trade.
Let it remain like this, for all the world to see,
Without nobility or loveliness, and dogged with shame
That is beyond all hope of indignation. Anger, too, is dead.
And why should memorials of what was far
From pleasant have the grace that helps us to forget?
In the dying afternoon, I wander dying round the Park of Peace.
It is right, this squat, dead place, with its left-over air
Of an abandoned International Trade and Tourist Fair.
The stunted trees are wrapped in straw against the cold.
The gardeners are old, old women in blue bloomers, white aprons,
Survivors weeding the dead brown lawns around the Children’s Monument.
A hideous pile, the Atomic Bomb Explosion Centre, freezing cold,
‘Includes the Peace Tower, a museum containing
Atomic-melted slates and bricks, photos showing
What the Atomic Desert looked like, and other
Relics of the catastrophe.’
The other relics:
The ones that made me weep;
The bits of burnt clothing,
The stopped watches, the torn shirts.
The twisted buttons,
The stained and tattered vests and drawers,
The ripped kimonos and charred boots,
The white blouse polka-dotted with atomic rain, indelible,
The cotton summer pants the blasted boys crawled home in, to bleed
And slowly to die.
Remember only these.
They are the memorials we need.
Browning, catatonia, Cheshire Cat, Chilmark stone, Comus, Constable, diabolical possession, Dinton, glow-worms, Grovely Wood, Lawes masque, ledger stone, oak apple, Phillips House, Rev Dodgson, Salisbury Cathedral, St Osmond, Wilts, Wylye Valley
The late afternoon sun mellowed the creamy Chilmark stone of St
Osbert’s Anglican Church. It was the same stone that Constable had
painted so warmly when he depicted Salisbury Cathedral.
The vicar had glanced at the latest entry in the Visitors’ Book, before
wandering into the churchyard.
Howard Lawes, MD, Alabama, he pondered.
Dr Lawes appeared to be a typical American tourist, judging by the
inordinate amount of camera equipment that he was carrying. His
surname was ringing bells, but not in a campanological fashion, for the
vicar. Wasn’t it the same name that was to be found on many of the
gravestones in Dinton?
The visitor was in the unhallowed burial section, adjusting his lenses and
trying to capture a special view of the steeple. This had caused many a
photographer of lesser ability to flatten the wildflowers which grew
profusely in its shade.
Good afternoon! greeted the Rev Dodgson. I believe you are a long way
from home? This was a tried and tested opening gambit which may have
given some an impression of his virtual omniscience and benevolence.
Yes- and no, drawled the complex and surprisingly pale Dr Lawes,
in an expansive non-British fashion. Yes, I am from Alabama, but my
roots are right here in the Wylye Valley. I visited Philipps House this
morning and, in conversation, discovered quite a bit about my ancestors
and their Royalist connections.
Lawes… the vicar pondered. Ah, the Comus link. Have you had musical
genes passed down to you?
Sadly not, replied the photographer, screwing the lens cap back onto his
camera. But I could have sworn that I was seeing creatures from my
namesake’s masque in your churchyard. It may have been a trick of the
light, but a curious presence seemed to follow me around and then I saw
what looked like a human mouth begin to materialise. It quite unnerved
me. To tell you the truth, I’m glad to see someone else is here. But
maybe I’m becoming paranoid. Am I? he joked, unconvincingly.
How would one ever know if one was mad? retorted the Rev Dodgson,
lapsing into his tedious habit of responding to difficult questions by
posing further interrogatives. I could quote MY namesake and add
‘You must be mad to come here.’ However, the fact is, Dr Lawes…
Howard, please, interrupted the American.
The Rev Dodgson ignored this plea and continued,…the fact is, you
have just espied our resident ghost, Risus Sardonicus. The Latin
suggests a male gender, but I can assure you that she…
Why doesn’t he just say ‘you have just seen’? Lawes thought to
himself. Aloud, he repeated: She?
Yes, she has similarities to that phantom feline, The Cheshire Cat,
but she is less forthcoming. You are not the first to have been sneered
at by Mary Norton, she of the distinctively green eyes, which some have
assigned to glow-worm activity. However, the stare often comes from an
elevation that not many animals could scale.
(Photo: Timo Newton-Syms, Flickr)
Do we know anything about this Mary Norton?
You were practically standing over the spot where we believe she was
buried, replied Dodgson. It is an unmarked grave, so you were not to
know. Maybe she doesn’t appreciate being trampled on. This was intended
to be a mild plaisanterie.
I’m sure I didn’t intend to desecrate anyone’s resting place, apologised
Lawes, who was unsure of English irony. Only, the view of the steeple,
with Grovelly Wood in the background, was so photogenic.
Indeed. You couldn’t have known. As one of our dramatists has said:
‘Youth emits smiles without any reason. It is one of its chiefest charms.’
Don’t regard it as an expression of personal animosity. She does it all
the time as she was not too keen on how our parishioners treated her.
I think she would have preferred to have been buried with certain of
her relatives-over there.
Is that why she’s restless? postulated the tourist, placing his heavy
camera bag on a ledger stone and then thinking better of it and laying
it more respectfully on the grass.
Hmmm…Yes. I don’t think people like to be publicly excommunicated.
Apparently, Mary had an unfortunate habit of bursting into totally
inappropriate laughter at Eucharist and other services. The locals thought
she was demon-possessed. She would rock back and forth…
The vicar ignored the interruption: …emitting guttural noises, her
tongue lolling. Maybe the girl was ‘touched’ but these were less
tolerant times. People were quick to detect blasphemy. No one knows
the precise manner of her death. Her body was discovered in Grovelly
Wood. She’d been exercising her ancient right to collect free firewood.
I think she died on May 29th, Oak Apple Day, in 1865. All the youngsters
used to go to Salisbury and dance on the lawns in The Close. Then
they’d lay oak boughs on the altar. I forget why.
Well, there she lies- or doesn’t. I could say with my favourite poet,
Browning: Oh sir, she smiled, no doubt, whenever I passed her;
but who passed without much the same smile? Unfortunately, though
commands have been given, the smiles don’t stop altogether.
Lawes was tiring of the literary references, but he had been thinking
very hard during this expatiation.
Poor Mary Norton! he reflected. No wonder she is so unquiet. Her ears
have not yet materialised, so perhaps she will not hear my thoughts on
the matter. I can assure you, sir, that there was no question of diabolical
(Photo of oak apple by Bob Embleton)
to be continued…!
Airey's Inlet, Bass strait, Bunurong, Creed mcTaggart, Cuillins, David Rastovich, eudyptula minor, fairy penguin, fulmar, grippin' the lip, Howard Hughes surfboard, Koolin, Lew Brown, Loyd Grosman, mutton-bird, Namibia, one piece leash, painting zebras, passeggiata, Phillip Island, Port Phillip Winery, rip curl, Rip Van Winkle, Roll out the Barrel, shearwater, Sojourn, St Kilda, stabmag.com, Sumatra, Surf Beach, Teahupo'o pizza, The Nobbies, Tracks-the Surfers' bible, ultimate gypsy, wallaby
You would think that The Nobbies would be an excellent place to get
away from Joe Public, but even with a howling gale blasting in from
The Bass Strait, there is the eternal shrill whine of children whose decibel
level outperforms the crashing waves and predatory shearwaters. Once
placated by a cuddly toy penguin, however, the juveniles are generally
benign, unlike their adult counterparts who simply will not obey rangers’
instructions and whose attention span seems limited to one advance
by a single cohort of fairy bands of brothers before they have to stand up,
blocking others’ views and flashing away at the shy bird-life which is
trying to avoid the unwanted attention of a sea eagle, or a fox, but which
ends up mating under spotlights, beneath the boardwalks, to a perpetual
What are they doing? Oh, look! A threesome!
Eudyptula minor is a cutie and its nightly parade reminded me of a
Mediterranean passeggiata, except that those on the fringes do not
usually get picked off – or do they?
The whole ambience recalls accounts of the fulmar-dependent,
indigeneous people of St Kilda. No doubt the mutton-bird eating
Bunurong would have had heaps in common with the original
inhabitants of the Scottish archipelago, although the Bunurong
had not been planted on their terrain, but were the supplanted.
Mind you, the Koolin people sounds rather like the Cuillins, don’t
I’m ashamed to say that I didn’t savour a short-arsed shearwater,
or whatever the mutton-bird is. I preferred the duck confit at Port
Phillip Winery, the previous day.
Those of you who have been questioning whether I have morphed
into a fully-formed Sheila yet, might be better employed rating my
surf babe status. Forget The Husband. The only thing he surfs is
the internet. As for Rip Curl experiences, he is more into those of the
Rip van Winkle variety. Or Lip Curl, when he comes across snippets of
his fame being promoted over this site. (He can be as desultory as
that lone wallaby that hopped across the dusky beach last night,
silhouetted against a giant red full moon.) Just trying to divert
attention, I’d say.
We stayed over at Surf Beach in a house on stilts, all weather
boarding and corrugation. The walls were decorated with a Howard
Hughes, Airey’s Inlet finned surfboard, bearing the endorsement:
I felt like Loyd Grosman- remember the guy who used to traipse
through people’s houses trying to guess what kind of a person lived
therein? He actually only got the job because someone mistakenly
thought he was a journalist. I felt a bit of a fraud myself. But now
that I’ve heard of stabmag.com, I feel that I have some beach cred.
I might even get The Husband some Board Shorts. Apparently, Life
is better in them. The guys in the adverts seem to prove the point.
Maybe I could tether one of these Adonises to my side with the
World’s Strongest Leash, a one piece leash technology. Might just
keep The Husband from wandering off towards the wine aisle in
Even the reading matter was connected to the ocean and Night
Surfing was the only novel on view. The blurb confided that it was
about a wave that arcs so high it drops down the sun, stars and
moon from the sky and turns day to pitch. Hannah is a drop-out
who wants to learn to walk on water and Jake has been a dustman,
or re-cycling engineer, from Liverpool, but he dreams of surfing the
night. Presumably he has had a shower first. He has demons of his
own. Let’s hope that Hannah exorcises them.
Right, enough of those barbed comments, as prickly as the fins on the
I did enjoy leafing through Tracks: the Surfers’ Bible– the next best
thing to a Teahupo’o pizza delivery, apparently.
You see, I had never heard of grippin’ the lip; surfing in Namibia- I
thought it was all desert dunes. I thought Roll out the Barrel was a
1940s song by Lew Brown and nothing to do with tides and waves.
Painting zebras on a wall sounded artistic to me, something like
decorative murals on a kindergarten reception hall.
Hoovering through the slob sounded like clearing up after the
kindergarten kids had gone home. And I had never heard of
films such as Sojourn, a surf film about Sumatra, with David
Rastovich. I really must have been up a gum tree!
Oh, wait a minute! It’s hovering through the slob. It’s all this
being on the road. I’m turning into an ultimate gypsy like Creed
McTaggart. That’s a different creed from the one I know back
home and which I can recite by heart on Sunday mornings.
Okay, so he’s known for his sunglasses and criticised for faux
surf celebrity; I’m known for my hats and…
I’m morphing into something. It’s Travel. It broadens the mind,
as well as the behind.
Alex Salmond, Aljaz, androstenol, Anton de Beke, Boar's Head Carol, Ferraro Rochers, Limousin cattle, Pasha, Perthshire, pig in a poke, Plutarch, poo, Strictly male professionals, there's brass, Thornton truffles, truffles, tuber maculatum, where there's muck
Murgatroyd was becoming over-enthusiastic. He had just purchased
some hazel saplings which were impregnated with truffle sporelings.
He had been assured that the spores originated from the hooves of
Limousin cattle which had come from a truffe-producing region. Ca
There was something magical about truffles. Even Plutarch had
postulated that, though made of muck, they had been formed when
a lightning bolt had hit the ground. And Murgatroyd had had a coup
de foudre idea when he had suddenly surmised that where there was
muck, there might be brass. He seemed to remember having read
about some schoolchildren in Perthshire who had discovered white gold,
or tuber maculatum, in their playground. Children loved anything that
resembled poo, but they loved hard cash even more. Apparently, they
were unbelievably, but altruistically donating the proceeds to their school
funds, to build a new kitchen.
Children seemed to be different nowadays.
But, at £2,800 per kilo it seemed a brilliant idea to seek
them out- the truffles, not the children, especially as he now had a
pig that he could train.
Diana dampened his enthusiasm.
It has to be a female pig, darling, she advised. The scent comes from
androstenol, a sex pheromeme found in boar saliva, so The Emperor
would not be attracted to the smell, unless he bats for the other team.
But we can get a sow, Murgatroyd pointed out. I want to breed for
sausage production anyway.
Yes, well, I read that you’d hardly harvest any, as the beast eats most of
them and, if you try to take them from her, you will fall into the category
of truffle hunters who do not have a full complement of digits. Also, I
seem to recall that someone said that even if you did find truffles in
Scotland, they wouldn’t taste of much.
That wouldn’t have been Alex Salmond then, he quipped.
Murgatroyd looked crestfallen. He had hoped to supply that canteen-
style restaurant that Dru had been harping on about- the one owned
by that Hugo Frondley-Whittingstall chap.
Have you told Aunt Augusta that The Emperor is male? Diana asked.
She’ll be so disappointed.
I’ll send her one of our Photoshop-ed calendars for 2015, said
Murgatroyd. The Emperor looks so noble in December, with his crown
of mistletoe, surrounded by carol singers with the Boar’s Head Carol
on their music stand. It was such fun producing it. I hope we sell
loads. The roof funding is really coming on nicely.
Well, she might not want a reminder of Time’s Winged Chariot and all
that, Diana said firmly. After all, she might not get the full use of a
calendar. I suspect she’d rather have a semi-naked portfolio of ‘Strictly’
male professionals. However, I don’t want to raise her blood pressure, so
I’ll send her a box of Ferraro Rochers, or Thornton truffles instead. I
expect they would be to her liking, unless you can source any truffle-
As you wish, Murgatroyd conceded. But I’m still going to get a sow.
Whatever, Diana replied. I just hope that it won’t be a pig in a poke, like
a lot of your ideas.
What do you mean by that? asked Murgatroyd. It was going to be one
of their first arguments for a long time.
Nothing, she muttered enigmatically. Nothing at all.
But she knew what he was like- of old.
Now, where could she buy some of those calendars with Pasha,
Tastier than some mouldy old lump of…She wished Dru could get a hold of some
of his spores. Even Anton’s would do. It was time that she was a