“Remind me, Dobson,” said Marigold Chew one morning over breakfast, “Did you ever write that pamphlet you planned about the bandicoot?”
The out of print pamphleteer was fumbling with his fork, trying to spear on its tines one of the shrivelled boiled otter-heads swimming in a broth of gummy pap, with dockweed, in his breakfast bowl. So terrific was his concentration that he barely heard his inamorata, and she repeated the question after taking a swig of New! Breakfast Variety Squelcho! from her tumbler.
Dobson threw in the towel, put down his fork, and reached for a stick of celery-style impacted vegetable matter. Waving it in a show of flamboyance, he announced “I will never write another word about birds!”
This exchange took place during the closing stages of the battle of Dien Bien Phu, so with hindsight we are able to note that Dobson’s statement was ludicrously inaccurate.
“I do adore your non sequiturs, Dobson,” said Marigold Chew, “But do tell, I am agog to know about the bandicoot pamphlet.”
His mouth full of curiously tasteless vegetable matter, Dobson gazed at his inamorata as if she had taken leave of her senses. His table manners being impeccable, he did not attempt an immediate reply. Marigold waited upon his munching. She herself was a dab hand with the fork and the otter-heads and had finished her breakfast some minutes ago.
“Your remark regarding non sequiturs seems to me a non sequitur in and of itself,” said Dobson, eventually, then, his voice rising, shouted “Be that as it may, when I say I shall never again write a single word on the subject of birds, I mean it! And now I am going to go out in the rain to no apparent purpose.”
“I can think of a purpose, Dobson,” said Marigold Chew, “While you are out in this apocalyptic downpour perhaps you could stop by the kiosk in the shadow of the viaduct and pick up a copy of The Daily Digest Of The Doings Of Small To Medium-Sized Terrestrial Marsupial Omnivores for me?”
As he struggled to don his Eritrean Unofficial Goat Wizard’s boots, with their exceedingly complicated lacing protocol, the pamphleteer said “You don’t normally take that publication. Is there any reason for the sudden interest?”
“I think there might be something in it that I want to show you, Dobson,” she said, an enigmatic smile on her lips.
Stamping his feet to finally lodge them firmly into his boots, Dobson took his hat and coat and crashed out of the door into the rain. He wondered why on earth Marigold thought he might be interested in small to medium-sized terrestrial marsupial omnivores, when his head was filled with unrelated matters, including Hungarian football ace Ferenc Puskas, plinky-plonky piano music, weird sausages, asteroid belts, and plums.
“And one thing I am most definitely not interested in,” he shouted at a swan as he passed the pond, “Is birds, any birds, all birds, and that includes you, swan!, and your pals the teal and mergansers and buffleheads and coots and bandicoots!”
Later, sopping wet, Dobson arrived home with a copy of The Daily Digest Of The Doings Of Small To Medium-Sized Terrestrial Marsupial Omnivores which the kioskist had very thoughtfully plopped into a waterproof bag for him, at a small extra charge.
“Here is your magazine,” he said, tossing it on to the table as a puddle formed around his feet.
Marigold Chew took it from the bag, leafed through it, and alighted on a short and interesting article, illustrated with several black and white snapshots taken by tiptop marsupial snapper Rex Supial, on the subject of the bandicoot.
“When you have a moment, Dobson,” she said, “You might want to take a look at this. I shall make a pot of tea.”
And shortly afterwards, the out of print pamphleteer learned, to his horror, that everything he had intended to say about bandicoots in his projected pamphlet, hundreds of pages of scribbled notes and jottings and ill-turned sentences of foolish conjecture, was as dust, was as dust and ashes. All of it, every word, was arrant nonsense! The bandicoot was not a type of coot! It was not even a type of bird!
Dobson slumped in his chair and held his head in his hands. The cup of tea went cold.