Dining Well On Moss And Eels

I put some sphagnum in a pot.
I boiled it ’til it was hot.
I spooned it out onto a plate.
And then I sat me down to wait.

I waited ’til the moss was cold.
I did precisely as I’d been told
In a book of recipes for sphagnum meals,
Dining Well On Moss And Eels.

Rather, a pamphlet, not a book.
By Dobson, who claimed to be a cook
In the prefatory piece
He’d written to these recipes.

This poem, by F X Urg, is the sole reference in all world literature to Dobson’s semi-mythical recipe book. The titanic pamphleteer of the twentieth century always denied having written it, and not even the most indefatigable of Dobsonists has been able to find any trace of it, in either printed or manuscript form.

It would thus be simple to dismiss the poem as one of F X Urg’s lurid phantasies, were it not that Dobson is on the record as having eaten both sphagnum moss and eels for breakfast on innumerable occasions. In his pamphlet A Tally Of All The Breakfasts I Have Tucked Into Over The Past Sixteen Years (out of print), Dobson regularly mentions sphagnum and eels, sometimes in combination, as in this extract:

15 June 1954. Breakfast today was eels stuffed with boiled and shredded sphagnum, washed down with dandelion and burdock spiked with runny egg.

It is quite plausible, then, that the out of print pamphleteer might at some point have turned his hand to such a recipe book. But if he did, why did he so vehemently deny it? And his denials were certainly vehement. A hot empurpled face, spitting, screeching, and the jabbing of his fists at his interlocutor were common responses whenever Dobson was asked about the existence of the book. Russell Hartyplus, for one, wisely steered clear of the topic when he interviewed Dobson for an episode of his TV series Interviews With Pamphleteers, contenting himself with questions about hot air balloons, moles, and gas giants, the subjects of Dobson’s three most recent pamphlets, all now out of print.

An answer to the puzzle possibly lies in ferreting out further information about the lurid phantasist F X Urg. This could prove problematic, however, as the poem reproduced above is the only known trace of him in all world literature.

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