Well, there you go : that was Obsequies For Lars Talc, Struck By Lightning. It was a curious experience retyping something I’d written almost a quarter of a century ago. Chief among my torments was the desire to tweak, rephrase, rewrite. But I knew that if I started along that path, I’d end up with a considerably different text. On a very few occasions, I could not resist. (For example, a misuse of the word fulsome. I know this is now routinely misused, to the point where its proper meaning is likely to be lost, but damn me if I’m going to help it on its way.) When, like Lars Talc, I am long dead, scholars of the future will no doubt pore over this version and the original, triumphantly spotting the minor changes.
That original was published in an edition of twenty-five copies in 1994. This new one is available free of charge to billions of readers across the globe. That is the cataclysmic change that occurred between the time I finished Obsequies, and descended into my Wilderness Years, and when I emerged from them, in the new century, to find that Het Internet had happened, and this website came mewling into existence. It is instructive that the actual number of my readers probably hasn’t increased significantly.
Another change, implicit in the text, and one I could not help but notice, is that my twentieth-century characters like to glug booze. (Even more so in the other novella written as the demons of debauch gripped me, later published as Unspeakable Desolation Pouring Down From The Stars.) There is not a drop of aerated lettucewater to be found!
Lars Talc and Minnie seem to be ur-versions of Dobson and Marigold Chew. However, the character I most warmed to, as I retyped, was the mysterious Bruno. It is never made clear precisely who he is, nor the nature of his relationship to Talc and Minnie. I suspect he may be worthy of a spin-off series of tales.
Certain passages were lifted without acknowledgement from The Little Cyclopaedia Of Common Things by Rev. Sir George W. Cox, Bart., M.A. (1894), the Journals of Gerard Manley Hopkins, and (if memory serves) Death, Ritual, and Bereavement, edited by Ralph Houlbrooke (1989).
I may republish Obsequies in a near-facsimile edition via Lulu. In the meantime, you may feel compelled to recognise my titanic retyping efforts by plopping some moolah into the Donation box.