A letter arrives from a werewolf. It is rather difficult to read, as the notepaper on which it has been written is soaked in blood and vestiges of entrail, but I have done my best to decipher and transcribe it:
Dear Mr Key : As a werewolf, I feel I must take issue with your assertion that Dobson was wrong about me and my kind. I realise you were just echoing the witterings of young Ted Cack, but you have not subjected them to proper critical scrutiny and appear to believe every word of his tiresome book. Oh, and it may well be “densely argued”, in the sense that we use “dense” as a synonym for “thick”, “stupid”, or “brain-fuddled”, but to describe his prose as “pretty” is preposterous. The Cack book clunks along like some sort of leaden clockwork robot brimful of elephant tranquiliser. Do not start arguing with me that my analogy is flawed, in that a chemical tranquiliser would have no effect upon a robot’s mechanics, for I have actually stuffed the innards of a robot with mind-numbing powders from sachets, so I know whereof I write. The robot’s progress, clunking along the lane towards the lab, was just like Ted Cack’s prose, in terms of its apprehension by the average werewolf. Not that I consider myself average, by the way. I am just making a point. I inhabit a sphere far above and beyond the average werewolf. I am fantastic and magnificent, as you would know had you ever seen me in my sphere.
It is in fact that sphere that I am writing to you about, for it is located on the island o’ werewolves, the existence of which both you and Ted Cack deny. It is a perfect sphere, constructed, much like a bird’s nest, of matted fur and twigs and duff, and it is punctured with breathing holes, through which I snort. It hangs from a hook in my cave, alongside my caged toads. This is where I stay between full moons, reclining in my werehammock, by turns whistling, puffing on acrid Lithuanian cigarettes, reading Pliny, Herodotus, and Jeanette Winterson, and taking werenaps. Occasionally I might play with my toads, goading them until the precious stones embedded in their heads glow, oh! so brightly. It is a good thing to amass such wealth, when one is a werewolf, for who knows when even we may be plunged into penury due to a credit crunch?
Outside my cave, the island, my ancestral homeland, is bathed in a perpetual milky light. I do not know why it is milky. There are of course other caves, and other werewolves, those who have made it back here, as I did, by marauding around the docks until we were able to slink aboard a ship under cover of night. I myself managed to skulk aboard a tugboat moored at the benighted seaside resort of O’Houlihan’s Wharf. As soon as it chugged away from shore I went on the rampage, howling and slashing and sinking my fangs into anything that moved. Most of the crew jumped into the sea rather than have their throats ripped out, so I was very soon in sole command. I seem to recall that the tugboat was called “Manley Hopkins”. Blood and gore dripping from my leathery lips, I steered her out into the vast expanse of the ocean, following my guiding star. Just as the Magi followed a star to find the infant Jesus, so we werewolves have our own star, up there in the heavens, to bring us home. I have absolutely no idea how it works, but it does, you can rest assured on that point. The hard bit is working out which of the myriad stars blazing in the firmament is the one you are meant to be following. No handy werecharts of the heavens have ever been drawn, probably because as a general rule we werewolves are clumsy and cackhanded with paintbrushes and pencils. That is true even of me, despite my all round general majesty. So I drifted about in “Manley Hopkins” for a few days and nights, gobbling up the cold vitals of the slaughtered crew when I became peckish, and howling at seabirds to pass the time. Occasionally I would fix a star with a gaze of my yellow eyes and mentally interrogate it. Are you the werestar that will guide me home to my island?, I would ask. But the stars never answer. They just glitter, silent in a chaotic universe.
I found my star. On the third or fourth night aboard the tugboat, far from land, I noticed a flock of wereguillemots, disposed across the sky such that they formed an arrow, or directional pointing device, clearly leading me to a bright tiny speck. I howled and I set the engine a-chug on its last gallon of fuel, and took the steering wheel in my clumsy paws. With the rising of the sun, I saw land on the horizon, shrouded in sea mist. My heart pounded in my hairy lupine chest. It was the island o’ werewolves. And it was no myth! The island is as real as the rock or pebble kicked by Dr Johnson on that memorable day when he kicked a rock or pebble to prove a point. And I kicked and bucked as I leapt, intrepid and superb, from boat to shore, home at last.
It is true that in the title of his pamphlet Dobson calls my island mythical, that in his text he suggests that it is merely a hallucination within my brain and the brains of other werewolves. If that were so, could I swing here in my werehammock? Could the walls of my cave drip with the blood of savaged werevictims? Would that milky light illumine scenes of such fecund beauty, the hollyhocks and rhododendrons and petunias, the furze and vetch and watercress, the limpid pools and the roaring waterfalls, the manicured lawns, the golf links, the running track?
Ah, the running track. You know, I think I will put aside my Pliny and stretch my legs. This island has many weasels and stoats and badgers to which I can lay chase, round and round the track, round and round, until I pounce upon them just past the flagpole, and rip them to bloody pieces, howling and howling under the silver moon.
Proof, if any were needed, that we need to tax werewolves.
Anyone who enjoys the benefits of a civilized society, be it lounging in a hammock or reading Pliny, should contribute to that society. He (or she) could pay in jewel-headed toads.
Or is the Island ‘o Werewolves subject to UK tax laws?