Dear Frank, writes Tim Thurn, who has taken to calling himself Tim Thurn Of That Ilk, I assume in a desperate attempt to lend himself some gravitas, I was intrigued to read in your account of the Old Farmer Frack Memorial Essay Contest that the judges would include Wilf Self, Wilf Amis, and Wilfette Winterson. I have never heard of any of these people, despite being incredibly well-informed in all manner of subjects. Indeed, so huge is the amount of information stored within my brainpans that I have been compared, by idiots, to Stephen Fry, and by people with a modicum of sense to Roger Bacon (c.1219-1294), â€œDoctor Mirabilisâ€, the man who, it was claimed, had read everything.
Not wishing to doubt your word, I ran the names past my uncle, whose name also happens to be Wilf. He looked at me witheringly and, with barely a pause, accused you of having invented your Wilfs, and Wilfette, out of whole cloth. â€œThese people do not exist,â€ were his exact words, and I believe him, for he has made a point, during his long life, of keeping tabs on all the Wilfs and Wilfettes who have ever existed. Some may think it a foolish hobby, and it probably is, but thatâ€™s my Uncle Wilf for you.
Anyway, his pronouncement set me thinking. Why, I asked myself, would Key go to the trouble of making up a couple of Wilfs and a Wilfette when he must have known that he would be exposed as a fraudster and scoundrel as soon as anyone took the trouble to check? I must admit that for quite some time I was stumped. I just sat there, chewing the end of a pencil, risking lead poisoning, beflummoxed. But soon enough it was time for Uncle Wilfâ€™s daily outing, and I pushed him in his super whizzo wheelchair a few times around the pond, the pond next to the cement facsimile of the Old Tower of Lobenicht. You will recall that as the tower which Immanuel (not Wilf) Kant liked to look at through his window as he sat by the stove in circumstances of twilight and quiet reverie, not that he could be said properly to see it. Perhaps something of Kantâ€™s cerebral magnificence imbued my own brain, in spite of the cement copy being a poor substitute for the real tower, for in a flash of insight I realised what it was you were up to.
My theory, which I am going to write up into an essay and have published in some obscure and unread academic journal, Wilf willing, is that you were dropping great clanging hints to your readers of the full names of some of those Hooting Yard characters whose first names we are never given. Wilf Dobson? Wilf Blodgett? Old Ma Wilfette Purgative? Old Farmer Wilf Frack himself? You need neither confirm nor deny that this is the case, Mr Key, for so sure am I of the stupendous accuracy of my flash of insight that I know, as well as I know the consistency of the drool dribbling down my Uncle Wilfâ€™s chin, that I will be proved correct in the Harmanite court of public opinion, the only court that counts.
Yours ever, Tim Thurn Of That Ilk (and his Uncle Wilf, Of That Ilk)