Trudging around an autumnally glum seaside resort the other day, I was halted in the street by a municipal person armed with a clipboard. It was questionnaire time. I gave a series of succinct, if baleful, replies to queries about my views on the various amenities and attractions of the town, and walked onwards towards the deserted beach. I mention this only because, as I stood staring out to sea in the dying light, I wished I had been in O’Houlihan’s Wharf, instead of where I was, for then my answer to the question “How do you rate the local museum?” would have been neither succinct nor baleful but gabbling and overenthusiastic. Wildly so. For it is in O’Houlihan’s Wharf that you will find my absolute favourite museum in the world.

I cannot begin to explain why the Imperial Museum Of Rotting Vegetable Matter And Other Agricultural Waste Product holds me in such a spell each time I visit. Its matchless collection of rotting vegetable matter and other agricultural waste product is unrivalled by any museum anywhere, its special collections of silage and slurry jewels which any museum curator would kill for. (Notoriously, one curator did just that, but his evil scheme was found out and he was transported to a drab rock, a speck of volcanic gabbro girt by mighty seas, where he ended his days being pecked at by auks and petrels.) What once had been the Imperial Palace, where scenes of decadence and debauch played out under the yellow light of a thousand Pastewick lanterns, is palatial still, and the more so now that room upon room upon room is packed to bursting with sacks of rotting vegetable matter and other agricultural waste product in place of the pointy-chinned aristos and royal grotesques who played and partied and waltzed and vomited here in the old times. The lanterns still shed their unearthly Pastewick light, but how truly splendid now the recipients of that yellow gleam! Sack after sack, in tidy rows, in stack upon stack, rotting and pungent.

I said that the museum holds me in its spell each time I visit, and that is true, but not the whole truth, for I am held in its spell constantly, whether I have taken the days-long charabanc ride to O’Houlihan’s Wharf or whether I have not. For at night I dream of the sacks of rotting vegetable matter and other agricultural waste product. I dream of them each and every night, and I think of them in my waking daydreams too, every single day. For that doomed curator who was pecked at on the gabbro was my father, and I hold his memory dear. I, too, would kill, if I could but take possession of the silage and the slurry, the rot and the sludge, the mould and the mush and the muck.

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