Pitched past pitch of grief, I wept buckets of tears. Then, on my bakelite wireless set, I heard Chrissie Hynde commanding me to stop my sobbing. I usually find Ms Hynde persuasive, and in spite of the fact that I felt more pangs, I did as she bid. The buckets were both about three-quarters full. I hoisted them, one in each hand, and carried them off across the blasted heath. I hoped to get a good price for my tears from the tearmonger.
“What have you got for me today?” he asked, when I came toiling up to his kiosk. He was a fat slick duplicitous argumentative mocking gloomy patched-up greasy dribbling bug-eyed ragged vitamin-deficient debauched great bear of a man, all frills and flaps, and I did not warm to him, but he was the only working tearmonger in that part of the glade.
“Two three-quarter buckets of my own grief-stricken tears,” I said, lifting the buckets on to his counter. He eyed them coldly.
“What use are they to me?” he snarled, “You are neither an orphan nor a virgin, if memory serves.”
“Look,” I said, imploring him, “These tears were wrung wildly from pangs of grief. They must be worth something.”
“I might see my way to giving you a soup,” he said.
“A soup?” I asked, “What is that in panes, soilings, and pins?”
I knew very well that a soup was worth only a fraction of a pin, but I hoped, hopelessly, to shame the tearmonger into offering me a little more. He started faffing about with a sachet of gruesome murder victim’s widow’s tears.
“See this?” he said, “Tears shed in the actual presence of the lumbering walrus-moustached psychopath Babinsky, as he buried his axe in the head of the poor woman’s husband! Now those are tears that fetch a pretty pin,”
“But I was pitched past pitch of grief!” I protested.
He dipped his fingers into one of the buckets, then licked them with his unholy tongue, tasting my tears.
“Not salty enough for true grief,” he said, “And in any case, the buckets are only three-quarters full. In my experience, true grief gives vent to unstoppable tears. I think you were just moping.”
Under my breath, for the first – and, I hope, last – time in my life, I cursed Chrissie Hynde. I knew it would be pointless to appeal to the tearmonger. I had him down as a jazz-funk fan. There was little I could do but accept his soup. He gave me an eggcupful of minestrone, and I turned away, heading for that place in the past we’ve been cast out of, oh oh oh oh oh oh.