Fear Of Putti

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It has become something of a cliché for people to say they are frightened of clowns. Far more terrifying, to my mind, are putti. You know where you are with a clown – in the Big Top, where he galumphs across the sawdust with a bucket and a hooter. But those damnable putti!

Let’s be honest, if you were out and about, sashaying along the street, taking the air, and you saw, swooping through that air and coming to rest, hovering just above your head, a chubby baby with a full head of curly hair, and wings, and possibly armed with a bow and arrow, I think you would shriek in terror and run screaming for the hills. This would be a mistake. The wiser thing to do, in the circumstances, would be to run screaming for shelter, inside an enclosed building, where you could barricade yourself in. Putti can fly, but they cannot fly through brick walls.

If you run for the hills, the putti will follow you, calling out to their putti pals to join them. And that call! These are babies, remember, so their call is a godawful infant squeal, accompanied by gurgling. By the time you get to the hills, bedraggled and panting, there might be dozens or hundreds of putti hovering around you, like drones. If, in your terror, you piddle in your pants, as you are likely to do, the putti will giggle, in that horrible babyish way that is more like hiccups. Do you really want to find yourself alone in the hills beset by a swarm of hiccuping flying babies, some of whom have bows and arrows?

The wards of our lunatic asylums are crammed with poor souls who made the mistake of trying to flee from putti in the open air. The other mistake people sometimes make is to think they can turn the tables on the armed putti by shooting arrows at them so they drop, fatally wounded, from the sky. This doesn’t work. You cannot kill a putto. Unlike Ploppo the Clown, they are immortal.

Thankfully, since Renaissance times, we have seen rather less of the putti than we used to. Scientists are not sure what has caused the drop in numbers. It could be something to do with smog. But they are still out there, cherubic and terrifying and swooping through the air – flying babies! – and you would do well to be on your guard.

Love Triangle

Chim chim-in-ey, chim chim-in-ey, chim chimpanzee
You made a monkey, a monkey out of me
Chim chim-in-ey chimpanzee, go take a hike
There’s no room in my heart for both you and Dick Van Dyke

Foghorn

I went to the shops and bought a foghorn. I thought it would come in handy if I were to find myself embroiled in the fog of war. I could toot my foghorn, and then … well, to be honest I hadn’t really thought beyond that. But they make foghorns for a purpose, and a benign one, so I felt sure that, in the fog of war, my foghorn would prove invaluable. It might even save my life.

At time of writing, I am, or was, fortunate to live in a peaceable kingdom. King Gobbo is a peaceable man, and though he has been provoked by certain of our neighbours, over matters such as cow pastures and slurry pits and thermonuclear devices, he has thus far managed to maintain the peace, either by capitulating to the aggressor’s demands in a fawning manner, or by laying waste to their territories by deploying his fiercely loyal army of psychotic blood-drenched nutcases. Within our borders – and they are very pretty borders – we remain at peace. That being the case, I have not yet needed to toot my foghorn.

I have not needed to, but I tooted it anyway, to test it out. There was no fog. It was a clear day. You could see forever. I tooted my foghorn. It sounded rather as I imagine a combination of bassoon and piccolo would sound, playing a single protracted note, amplified to deafening volume. The particular make of foghorn I had bought worked by a simple mechanism. You depressed a knob to turn it on, and depressed the knob again to turn it off. Unfortunately I can be a bit of a butterfingers, and when I depressed the knob to turn it on, I somehow managed to jam it, so that when I tried to depress it again to turn it off, my efforts were in vain. As I said, it was bloody loud, and after trying to depress the knob a couple more times, I had to put my hands over my ears.

I stood there, like a fool, at the junction of Ritually Slaughtered Poultry Street and Ringo Starr Boulevard, on a clear day when you could see forever. And of course, if I could see forever, then so could everybody else, or most of them. I wondered if I could pretend that the foghorn was nothing to do with me, that I just happened to be passing by when some unseen miscreant depressed its knob. But I had the receipt from the foghorn shop in my pocket, and it would certainly be found when King Gobbo’s secret police bundled me into a van and took me to one of their damp dank subterranean interrogation chambers.

I looked wildly around to see if there was a municipal waste bin into which I could chuck the receipt. Doing so would involve having to uncover one of my ears for the time it took to remove the receipt from my pocket and discard it in the bin, and I might well be deaf in that ear forever after, but that seemed my best option if I could accomplish it before the arrival of the secret police. But there were no bins to be seen, even though it was a clear day and I could see forever.

Then I remembered King Gobbo’s latest ukase, proclaimed from his balcony just the other day. Bins were banned throughout the land. Bins were only necessary where there was waste, the King declared, and in his kingdom nothing went to waste. We were, he said, a frugal and ingenious people, who would eke everything, everything!, until it was beyond further ekeing, and could be eked no more. Or at least, we had better shape up and become that frugal and ingenious people, or else.

With my hands over my ears, and thinking about that “else”, and the secret police, and the damp dank subterranean interrogation chambers, I decided to make a run for it. I ran and ran, until the din of the foghorn was slighly less deafening, I ran and ran until I reached the border. It was a very pretty border. I handed myself over to the enemy border guards, and begged for mercy. I would think twice before buying another foghorn.

Delusions And Slurry

Just a couple of things to attend to today. First, over at Gruts, Richard Carter quotes some amusing snippets about O. Henry and Osbert Lancaster. One wants to learn much more about the latter’s father-in-law. Were the rest of his “numerous” delusions as delightfully specific as the belief that he “had crossed the Channel with Blériot”?

Second, it has occurred to me that one thing I would really, really like to do is to write a smash hit million-selling pop song about a farmyard mishap, entitled 16 Tons Of Slurry.

Boxing Gloves Of The Indigent And Wretched

Having dismissed the idea of running a series examining the gloveboxes of the rich and famous, I wondered if instead it might be interesting to run a series on the boxing gloves of the indigent and wretched. That’s right, I had finally taken leave of my senses, again. What was I thinking? For one thing, I know precious little about boxing, or its gloves. Second, I would rather know much less than I do about the indigent and wretched, otherwise known as riff-raff. Much, much less. If I never came upon another member of the riff-raff I would die a happy man. Unfortunately, on the rare occasions when I emerge from my barrel of reclusion and venture into the outside world, I can barely move for the teeming throngs of riff-raff.

Incidentally, if you followed the link above, do take the opportunity to buy the record. It is very good indeed.

I am always amused by the fact that the Corbynistas and their like claim to be devoted to the needs of the riff-raff. They hate and despise the riff-raff even more than I do. It is a mutual loathing, which the Corbynistas explain by saying the riff-raff are bedevilled by “false consciousness”. Frankly I would be surprised if the riff-raff I encounter have any consciousness whatsoever, unless it be a malign intention to exasperate me. That is something in which they demonstrate an almost enviable skill.

Clearly, given the above, I am not best placed to write about the boxing gloves of the indigent and wretched. Could I, then, turn my attention to the boxing gloves of the rich and famous? I suppose I could, but for the full run of a series? That seems dubious, to say the least. Once I had dealt with Ernest Hemingway’s many and various punch-ups, with a nod to Joan Miró and Arthur Cravan, I would pretty much have exhausted my knowledge. Add to which Hemingway’s fist-fights were usually boxing gloveless – as when he knocked Wallace Stevens into a puddle (1936) – and Arthur Cravan was neither rich nor famous in his time, and the paucity of material I have to draw on becomes horribly apparent.

So, to face brute facts, that is another projected series I shall have to dismiss as a hopeless dream. Oh, that gives me an idea! Hopeless Dreams of the Riff-Raff! Now there is a topic I could get my teeth into. And, being based on dreams, I could just make it all up. No pesky research required. I shall start work on it immediately.

Gloveboxes Of The Rich And Famous

I thought it would be interesting to run a series examining the contents of the gloveboxes of the rich and famous. That’s right, I had finally taken leave of my senses. What was I thinking? For one thing, I have minimal interest in the rich and famous. Second, the glovebox is part of a car, and I know nothing about cars. Like Pablo Picasso and Derren Brown, I have never learned to drive.

It could be argued that the contents of a glovebox have nothing to do with the car per se, and that there may be intrinsic interest in the jumble of knickknackery to be found in the average glovebox. But if that is so, then the contents of the gloveboxes of the indigent and wretched are likely to hold as much interest as those of the rich and famous. Though of course the degrees of indigence and wretchedness are pertinent. The greater they are the less likely the subject would be to own a car, and therefore a glovebox.

Could the word “glovebox” be applied to any box in which gloves are kept? In my world, you’re damn right it could! I am thinking, for example, of a cardboard shoebox from Freeman, Hardy, and Willis, which, when new, contained a pair of shoes, or even galoshes, but which has long since been reimagined as a handy box in which to store a selection of gloves, particularly discarded single gloves where the matching glove has been lost.

You might wonder why such gloves, of use only to amputees, have not simply been thrown away, into a bin or down a waste chute. You might wonder, but I don’t. I can discern the beauty in a cardboard box crammed with old and abandoned gloves. In fact, I would go so far as to say it is going to waste shoved out of sight in a cupboard under the stairs. Better by far to take the lid off, exposing the gloves, and paste a little sticker on the side bearing the legend “Whither Capitalism?”, and sell it for a small fortune to a contemporary art gallery so contemporary art wankers can claim it is an “interrogation” of something or other. When you have counted up your cash payment from the gallery and stuffed it into your pocket, you can punch the nearest art wanker in the throat, which is a valuable, if violent, use of anybody’s time.

Pictures Of Jap Girls In Synthesis

Clearly the time has come for us to look again at those pictures of Jap girls in synthesis. I have made mention of them several times over the years. Zane, zane, zane, ouvrez le chien.

Annals Of Nautical Heroism

In the annals of nautical heroism, few men have been as nautically heroic as Admiral Bagshawbag of the HMS Crinkle-Cut Oven Chip. Holding sway on the bridge of his majestic ship, standing on one leg of flesh and bone and the other of the finest mahogany from the Dutch Antilles, a papier mâché parrot perched on his papier mâché shoulder, his original shoulder having been shot away during a particularly violent episode of nautical heroism during a mahogany-gathering expedition to the Dutch Antilles a few weeks ago, the Admiral was a man of few words.

One of those words, and the one he spat out more often than any other, was “Piffle!” The Admiral shouted “Piffle!” when he woke up in the morning, and he shouted “Piffle!” last thing at night before he fell asleep. Between times, holding sway on the bridge of his majestic ship, he repeatedly found cause to shout “Piffle!”. The brine-soaked sailors of his crew were not always clear why he was shouting “Piffle!” and nor, to be fair, was the Admiral himself. It may simply have been a verbal tic, if a rather loud and jarring one.

The remains of the actual parrot on which the papier mâché one had been modelled were kept in cold storage in the Admiral’s personal cold storage unit tucked beneath the desk in his cabin. Inside, it was colder than the coldest of refrigerators, indeed it was so cold it was scarcely believable, from a scientific viewpoint. But the Admiral was not a scientist, he was a man of nautical heroism, partly wooden and partly papier mâché and with one eye made of glass and the fingers of one hand moulded from dough and baked to a crisp.

In spite of his nautical heroism the Admiral was, to his crew, a figure of pity, and not mild pity but a heart-rending extravagant pity provocative of strangulated choking sobs and mortification of the bowels. Such pity rendered the crew fairly useless in circumstances where nautical heroism was called for, for example on mahogany-gathering expeditions to the Dutch Antilles. The Admiral tried to pep them up and stiffen their sinews by increasing their rum rations, but this served only to make them more mawkish. Several of the crew, in their cups, wrote tear-stained letters home to their dear old mothers describing in forensic, if intoxicated, detail the pity they felt for their Admiral.

Inside its cold storage unit, the parrot was not actually dead. It was in a state of suspended animation from which the Admiral planned to revive it, so that one day he would be able to perch it on his other shoulder, still – at time of writing – of flesh and bone. To accomplish his plan, the Admiral had set Little Tim the cabin boy to a course of study in matters scientific, including cryogenic freezing and subsequent thawing. Unfortunately, the only book on board ship was a tattered copy of Laughter At The Foot Of The Cross by Michael A Screech, from which several crucial pages were missing.

Little Tim the cabin boy was the one member of the crew who did not pity the Admiral. “I have no time for pity,” he said in his high-pitched little voice when interviewed on Dutch Antilles Radio as part of a series of interviews with ships’ cabin boys. “I have no time for any of the finer emotions,” he continued, “For I have dedicated my life thus far, not that there has been much of it, to preparing myself for future acts of nautical heroism, the sort of nautical heroism in which the finer emotions can play no part. Now hand me that sextant and that cutlass, so I may practise.”

And so the HMS Crinkle-Cut Oven Chip sails on, either towards or away from the Dutch Antilles, with or without a cargo of mahogany. Listen to the wind in the rigging. A wind that kills. It kills the crew one by one, until only the Admiral and Little Tim the cabin boy and the parrot in cold storage are still with us, nautical and heroic, upon a shining sea.

Gluck, Glinka, And Buxtehude

Between the years 1787 and 1804, in the ethereal realms, the dead Gluck and the unborn Glinka became friends and allies. They were drawn together by mutual puzzlement at the absence, from those very realms, of Buxtehude, who had been dead since 1707 and ought, therefore, to have put in an appearance in the mystic aether. Gluck and Glinka, or their spirit-essences, set out to track down Buxtehude, or his immortal soul, a quest which only came to an end when Glinka was transformed into a material mewling infant in 1804. Gluck had to drum his heels and await Glinka’s return to the ethereal realms in 1857. By this time, of course, Buxtehude’s immortal soul had been missing for a full one hundred and fifty years, which is as close as dammit to a cut-off point in the world of spirits.

This is the conceit of an unfinished novel by Algernon Spooky, the so-called “psychic windowcleaner” who has a walk-on part in virtually every single biography and memoir of the first half of the twentieth century. Spooky seems to have known everybody, and frequently got into fist-fights with them. He was a commanding figure, described by Pipton as resembling a cross between a Roman emperor and a harrier hawk, with a bit of the temple of Angkor Wat thrown in. Unfortunately for the fate of his novel, Algernon Spooky had a tin ear and knew nothing of music, so his attempts to bring the souls of Gluck and Glinka and Buxtehude to fictional life are, in the words of Pipton again, “like watching an idiot child drool into a tin cup”.

After scribbling thousands and thousands of words, Spooky realised he was making a fool of himself – not for the first time – and tried to rework the material into a detective thriller. Here, Gluck, Glinka, and Buxtehude became a trio of malefactors plotting dark and dismal deeds. They hid in plain sight, operating from a high-street shoe shop clearly modelled on Freeman, Hardy and Willis. Only when Freeman, or Hardy, or Willis, or Freeman and Hardy, or Hardy and Willis, or Freeman and Willis, or for Christ’s sake let us have done with it, all three of them, got wind of Spooky’s tale and threatened him with a libel suit did that manuscript, too, end up in the dustbin.

But being Algernon Spooky, it was no ordinary dustbin. He styled it his Magical Ancient Egyptian Dustbin From The Realm Of Thoth, and scratched various arcane symbols upon it. He then tried to sell the dustbin to a credulous follower, the Dowager Duchess Dipsy of Poxhaven, warning her that she must never, ever remove the lid from the dustbin for fear of unleashing several malign demons from the ancient mystic city of Gaar. Even poor dim-witted Dipsy saw this for the poppycock it was, and she had Algernon Spooky dragged out of her drawing-room and beaten to within an inch of his life, with cudgels, by her valet, the one time champion wrestler Dinsmore. What happened to the dustbin thereafter is not known.

Algernon Spooky’s illegitimate daughter Poubelle, who acted as his literary executrix, consistently denied the existence of the two Gluck, Glinka, and Buxtehude manuscripts. It was only when Pipton bashed her repeatedly on the head with an electric toaster that she finally spilled the beans.

Clotcud

This post is the latest in our clear-eyed and earth-shattering series What They Don’t Want You To Know.

Have you noticed, when handling your Android device, that if you try to turn the screen round to view it upside down, it immediately flips to restore the default view? This was trumpeted as an exciting and “user-friendly” feature of tablet computers from the very first. It is of course nothing of the sort. It is, rather, a blatant example of the capitalist military industrial complex, probably abetted by the Freemasons and the Zionists and the lizard people from outer space, preventing you from realising that the Android is, in reality, a Clotcud – as revealed below.

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Swiss Puppetry

O let us now sing the praises of noted Swiss puppeteer Rolf Swisspupp! Preferably to a free jazz accompaniment, with bongos! Or, on second thoughts, let us not, for when we sing it is a godawful caterwauling that sets the teeth on edge and makes birds plummet from the sky, stone dead. Instead, let us list some of the books which, over the past forty years, the noted Swiss puppeteer has interpreted, in dramatic form, in eighteen-hour puppet shows, to adoring audiences in every canton of Switzerland.

The Magic Mountain by Thomas Mann

One Lonely Night by Mickey Spillane

Me And My Ectoplasm by Algernon Spooky

The Decline Of The West by Oswald Spengler

Chappaquiddick : The Real Story by James Lange and K DeWitt Jr

Verbose Twaddle by Will Self

The Loch Ness Mystery Solved by Ronald Binns

The Thing On The Doorstep by H P Lovecraft

The Prisoner Of Zenda by Anthony Hope

The Prisoner Of Brenda by Max Décharné

Rolf Swisspupp’s puppets are made from his own secret, patented substance known as Swiss Puppetene™, and this gives them an eerily lifelike appearance. In the words of the puppeteering critic Horst Puppcrit, “these puppets are eerily lifelike, if a few conjoined and twisted pipe-cleaners and a knob of putty can be imbued with life”.

The puppets are mute, chiefly because Rolf Swisspupp’s voicebox was surgically removed following a traumatic childhood ice-skating accident. The sheer dramatic intensity of his productions is made all the more sheer and dramatic and intense by the resounding silence in which they are performed. Dropped pins, etcetera.

In person, Rolf Swisspupp has a haunted and ravaged appearance, which has led to rumours that, when he is alone with his puppets, they come to life and torment him, as Michael Redgrave was tormented by his ventriloquist’s dummy in the film Dead Of Night (1945). Certainly it is true that the Swiss puppeteer has been found on occasion staggering through the streets of Zurich and Lucerne and Winterthur and Geneva, drink-sodden and incontinent.

But if he is a tragic figure, he is also enormously popular with Swiss tinies, who clap their little hands and screech with joy at the mere mention of his name. So if, today, we do not sing his praises, we can screech them, like a small overtired Swiss child, screech and screech and screech and screech and screech and screech and screech and screech and screech and screech and screech and screech and screech and screech until we are carted off and confined to a remote Swiss facility, high in the Alps, where brutish orderlies will torment us with pipe-cleaners and knobs of putty.

Maison Crimplene

This piece first appeared on a site called something like gitfeed or wankerlist under the title Ten Amazing Facts About Maison Crimplene That Will Make You Dribble Into A Tin Bowl.

The ceilings of Maison Crimplene are painted blue, with scattered spots of brilliant gold, to resemble a mediaeval painted sky. The floors are uniformly filthy. They have never seen a mop.

On one wall of the tea ceremony parlour in Maison Crimplene hangs a hyperrealist portrait of John Prescott, painted by the noted hyperrealist Rex Hyper. On the opposite wall hangs a similar painting of Prescott’s wife Pauline. They are gazing at each other, forever.

The major domo of Maison Crimplene is Pottymouth Peabrain of Plovdiv. Each time he opens his mouth it pours forth a tirade of disgusting abuse. But he speaks in Bulgarian, which few visitors to Maison Crimplene understand.

The bomb that tore through the cellars of Maison Crimplene but somehow left the building standing was planted by a gormless idiot boy from the nearest village, across the lake. He drowned in the lake shortly afterwards, when he toppled from his dinghy, surprised by a tern.

A black and white photograph of Maison Crimplene, taken at long distance from a mountain peak, appears on the cover of the September 1956 issue of Maisons Snapped From Mountains magazine. Its editrix at the time was noted hyperrealist painter Rex Hyper’s sister, Dot Photog.

The extensive gardens of Maison Crimplene are littered with discarded bubblegum wrappers. Brutes with tails disport themselves in the trees and bushes, grunting in the daylight hours and howling in the night.

In one room of Maison Crimplene, off the main passageway and down a short flight of slippery steps, are stacked hundreds and hundreds of gunny sacks crammed with gutta-percha. Ticks creep up and down the walls of this room.

During the Second World War, troops from several combatant nations were billeted in Maison Crimplene, sometimes at the same time. Fighting,, brawling, and stabbings were averted through an unspoken code of bonhomie, exquisite manners, and pipe-smoking.

Oh! the chandeliers in Maison Crimplene, the chandeliers!

The most expensive room at Maison Crimplene is the one where Perry Como once stayed, accompanied by a pair of puppets made by the noted Swiss puppeteer Rolf Swisspupp. Como’s bill was settled by the priest from the nearest village, across the lake, in which the gormless idiot boy drowned when he toppled from his dinghy, surprised by a tern.

On the Air And In The Dabbler

This is a brief reminder that each week’s episode of Hooting Yard On The Air is now posted on Mixcloud almost as soon as it has been broadcast. Delve through the archives and you can listen to Mr Key babbling into your eardrums until the cows come home. Yesterday’s show includes a sort of homage to David Bowie on his 69th birthday, and the text appears in today’s Dabbler, so if you wish you can read and listen at the same time.

Kibbo Kift Diary

For those of you who followed our advent calendar with ever-mounting excitement, and have since become fanatical devotees of the Kibbo Kift, here are some dates for your appointment book. Dr Annebella Pollen, who wrote the book and curated the exhibition, has arranged a series of forthcoming events, to wit:

Wanstead Tap pub, London E7, 26 January

University of Bradford, 27 January

Kibbo Kift study day at Whitechapel Gallery, 6 February

Treadwell’s occult bookshop, London 25 February

Evening of Kibbo Kift-inspired music and art, Whitechapel Gallery, 10 March

Talk (as part of children and socialism series), Marx Memorial Library, London, 17 March

Take your totem!

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The Parish Wolf

Last week we held a funeral service for the parish wolf, although none of us is sure if it is really dead. Its howling has not been heard for twelve years, though, and under our laws a death certificate can be issued for a missing wolf after just five years. The general feeling in the parish was summed up by the sexton in a notice nailed, Luther fashion, to the door of the church. Even in the absence of a corpse, it would be for the good of the parish if obsequies were held. This was the gist of his notice, though it was couched in the mighty prose he deployed even when writing nature notes for the parish newsletter, and he did not on any account use the word closure.

One reason the sexton is so persuasive is that his appearance and bearing are strongly reminiscent of the actor James Robertson Justice (1907-1975). This is no accident. Over the years, the sexton has worked hard to imitate that booming voice, and he has undergone cosmetic surgery the better to ape the appearance of the man who, when not appearing in films, kept busy as a naturalist, racing driver, and falconry expert.

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Before dawn on the morning of the funeral there was a teeming downpour. The rain had ceased by the time we gathered in the churchyard, but the pugton trees were drenched, water droplets dripping from the tiny grey spongy buds, each bud like the brain of a homunculus. An extraordinary number of puddles had formed on the paths, and there are many paths converging on St Bibblydibdib’s, for it is the only church for miles around, all others having been smashed to ruination by the sexton’s predecessor, single-handedly. He was twice the size of the present incumbent, a titan among sextons, and a brute, and the parish has been much quieter since he wilted away and was carted off to a mercy home. No ducks plashed in the puddles, for word had not yet reached them that the parish wolf was dead, or at least thought to be dead, and no duck dared come near for fear of being torn to bits.

I had been asked to read the obsequies, and had prepared what I thought was a pretty speech. I have a weakness for alliteration, and made use of lots of W words, describing the parish wolf as winsome and windswept and waterlogged and wiry and woebegone and witless. There was little truth in any of this, for the signal fact about the wolf was that it was, for the most part, invisible. Kim Fat Goo, the village bus driver, claimed to have seen it crossing the road once or twice, and the preposterous tabloid astrologer Jonathan Cainer, who once spent a week holed up in Old Ma Brimstone’s Bed And Breakfast establishment, said that the wolf paid him nocturnal visits in his dingy room, but few of us gave these tales any credence. Yet despite remaining unseen, the wolf was – or had been – a mighty presence in our parish, and I felt it deserved a memorable send-off, with all those W words, even if what I said was inaccurate.

Our vicar had been abducted by a cadre of rogue Tundists and was tied up in a turret somewhere, so the sexton took charge of the service. When it came my turn to speak, no sooner had I propped my notepad on the lectern and cleared my throat than there came a bellowing of cows from the fields adjoining the church. My words were drowned out. The cows bellowed all day and all night and into the next day, for they were Mad Old Farmer Frack’s cows, and there were hundreds of them, massive and ungainly and bellowing. The funeral broke up in disarray, and we repaired to a hangar at the village airfield, and we ate cake and macadamia nuts under the shadow of gigantic propellers, and when we emerged, look!, ducks populated the puddles. The parish wolf was dead and gone.

This piece first appeared nine years ago.