On this day, exactly ten years ago, on 14 May 2004, I posted this on Hooting Yard:
BASHFUL COCTLOSH TRAUMA SURGEON
Being the title of a novel by Maisie Pew, due to be published in September. It is a book of ten chapters, their titles being:
I. The Gelignite Zombie Person From Didcot
II. Pudding Time
III. Paste, Then Gruel
IV. Our Hero, Dr Slab, Goes Haywire
V. Being A Chapter In Which Lovecraftian Shudders Are Experienced By A Barnyard Person And A Ferocious Bat-Being
VI. Tord Grip
VII. The Other Gelignite Zombie Person From Didcot
VIII. That Sinuous L’Oreal Toss Of The Hair Performed By A Pirate Gang
IX. Shoes? Boots? String?
XII. Mild Peril Fop Dilemma
Long-term readers, and those with their wits about them, will know that, contrary to my claim, no such book was ever published. This is because (a) I made it up, and (b) “Maisie Pew” did not then, and does not now, exist. I made her up too. Of course, I could have written Bashful Coctlosh Trauma Surgeon myself, and I may even have planned to, but I never did. I still could. I rather fancy it would be a pulpy potboiler. If I followed the practice of certain eminent pulp writers, I might be able to bash it out in a week or so. The thing to do would be to start typing and not fret too much about felicities of style and wotnot.
Incidentally, for those who care about such matters, “Coctlosh” was a sort of proto-Hooting Yard, or proto-Pointy Town. It was a fictional location which was the setting for a few stories I wrote as long ago as the late 1970s, each of which featured Josef Bong. Mr Bong was stolen from The Good Soldier Švejk by Jaroslav Hašek, where he is mentioned, just once, in passing, in – I recall – a newspaper cutting, where he is described as a “Brave Driver” (of a train). My Josef Bong rode a horse, mounted upon which he arrived in Coctlosh in the first of the stories, on a blistering hot day. I do not remember much else about these ancient texts, which are – alas – lost. Burned, I think, in a frenzy, long ago.