For some time now, I have been considering making a proper study of the hoof-patterns imprinted in mud or snow by celebrities. I speak, of course, of those celebrities who are hooved, either because they are centaurs, or are goat-footed beasts spawned by Beelzebub. The latter is often true of those celebrities one commonly sees only from the waist, or indeed neck, up. Celebrity centaurs are rarer, but can easily be spotted by the eye trained to spot such things. “Centaurs”, incidentally, is an anagram of “Etruscan”. That is well worth remembering.
It will be objected that the last thing the world needs is for Hooting Yard to descend into the brain-dead realm of celebrity fixation, and I agree. See me nod. See me nod more. See me nod so much my head all but detaches itself and rolls along the lane into a ditch. See a cloud of flies settle upon my head in the ditch and poke their probosces into my scalp to suck upon my brain. See Old Farmer Frack disperse the flies with fumes from his aerosol repellant canister. See Old Farmer Frack pick up my head and place it in his sack. See Old Farmer Frack trudge along the lane swinging my head in a sack as he heads for the eerie barn.
Sorry, where was I? Ah yes, celebrity hoof patterns. They have much to teach us, and I do not think we should ignore those lessons just because of celebrity involvement. For example, it was reported to me by an unimpeachable source that a trail of hoof imprints left in an Alpine snowdrift by a well-known celebrity centaur from the world of television cookery programmes shows an identical pattern – identical! – to the disposition of sightseers on the grassy knoll in Dallas at the very moment of the first shot from Lee Harvey Oswald’s Mannlicher-Carcano rifle on 22nd November 1963. Unfortunately, because the snowdrift melted, as snowdrifts do, this cannot be independently verified. Those of you muttering that I ought to have inserted the word “allegedly” somewhere alongside Oswald’s name should go and read your Posner.
A second example, again well attested, is the extraordinary set of hoofprints left in mud by a Booker Prize-nominated celebrity goat devil in Penge. The pattern formed by the prints, viewed from a certain angle, in a certain light, on certain days, in certain mirrors, appears to spell out a line or two from the Book of Revelation, if written in spidery handwriting by a hamfisted shaking person. I have seen a blurred black and white photograph of this phenomenon, and I am convinced.
There is much more material, suitable for a lavish coffee table book. Both the book and the coffee table designed to uphold it will be lavish, the latter perhaps more so than the former. It will be built from wood, teak or mahogany, stained with the most excellent varnish available, each leg carved to form a mythological figure, representing in turn Europe, America, Africa and Asia, similar to that of the splendid wooden carvings on the massive pulpit in St Peter’s church in the university town of Leuven in Brabant. The sole deviation from the standard iconography will be that each figure will have the hooves of a goat, embedded in wooden mud or snow.
Wooden mud, ah! It is a fine, fine thing.