(Chapter 2 is the previous post. Chapter 4 appears tomorrow)


Why All The Women Are Upside Down

I looked at my alarm clock and saw that although the lurid green spectre of my Uncle Wilfred had been orating for what seemed an hour, the hands of the clock had not moved an inch. I put this anomaly to my dead relative and he raised his weary eyebrows and did not deign to answer, as if to say how simple minded to think that an avuncular ghost as your small hours interlocutor would be subject to the usual laws of chronology and sequence. Then with a shuffling impatience, he went on to tell me about the vision he had had, thanks to these obligatory supernatural powers of his, of my future over the next few years. What he revealed was wholly surprising to me, and it started with the touching picture of my daughter Sarah, an IT specialist aged twenty-five, encouraging me before long via her laptop in Manchester to join that ubiquitous if inevitably compromised digital phenomenon known as a dating site, and after initial reluctance my following her advice. By the summer of 2014 Joanie had been dead for four and a half years and Sarah by now felt it was high time I had found myself a lively, healthy and optimistic partner, especially as I was stuck upon a remote Greek island where few spoke English and I had only basic Greek. That said, the baroque and technical business of computer dating, inevitably obliged Wilfred to use words new and outlandish to him, such as online, internet, site and website, and true to form and being the phantasm that he was, he made ghostly blurs of these vocables with his own florid approximations. So it was that online often became ‘onion’ in his spectral mouth (hence ‘onion dating’ and later and in another context ‘onion banking’), and the internet often received the interesting semantic distortion ‘Hinder Not’. Site and website predictably became his unmusical perversions of shite and webshite, but as you will see below, he generally alternated or random shuffled the proper terms with his extraordinary transliterations.

As Wilfred explained to me: “The Hinder Not is so called because this wonderful and beautiful thing hinders nobody and nothing, son, but gives them access to damn near everything they want! Don’t get me wrong, Joe Soap, I’m no Luddite. Not only did I have one of the first cars, a Rolls Silver Ghost no less, in Ballyferriter in 1907, I also by 1910 had not one but two telephones, meaning Ballyferriter 7 for the house and Ballyferriter 8 for my studio/retreat at the bottom of the garden. You know, I’ve been looking hard at this remarkable Hinder Not phenomenon and I say to myself it’s bloody brilliant and I wish I had had it in my day. Dingle branch library in 1909 or even in 1959 was scarcely on a par with its go-ahead counterpart in hoary old Alexandria, and if you wanted to read about things like gynaecology or reproduction, even that of midges or of mice, you needed the signed approval of at least three priests all aged over eighty-five.  These days at two clicks of the doings on your hotpot you can find out about for example seventeenth century Serbian poetry if you want, or an experienced medical specialist without the textbooks to hand, can research a rare and worrying cancer likewise. That can only mean what is good and wholesome and a fine thing for the human race.” He paused, lit another atemporal Afton, then went on approvingly. “But that aside, daughter Sarah will soon be putting you on a carefully chosen website called Lovebirds Dirt Com. I trust that you have heard of it?”

I furrowed my brow. “Never in the memory of mankind.”

“Well hats off to it, as it is a very fine shite. A bloody fine old shite, I’m telling you, Joe. Relatively speaking that is. Actually, between me and you, and to play The Other One’s Advocate, it’s not all that fecking great at bottom, it’s just that all the rest are more or less abominations. Plus, Loveballs Do Come caters for those of a liberal, socialistic and educated background, meaning that thanks to Sarah and without too much delay, you will hopefully be finding women with admirably shared values as well as fine and strapping and rotund appendages.”

Then Uncle Wilfred added something I found very startling, which was that having, thanks to his visionary powers, surveyed all the Lovebirds women of the age range I would eventually specify, the majority of them being British, on a bad day he was sorely tempted to have the preposterous thought that they were all the same person

I was immoderately astonished. “That doesn’t make sense, Uncle Wilfred! I know enough about dating sites to know there will be hundreds of photos of these women, all with descriptions of their likes and dislikes and their preferences in men. They can’t possibly be just a Single, Lone and Pristine Female Superwoman or whatever you are saying they are. Apart from anything else, such a woman couldn’t possibly date five hundred adoring men over a limited or even a limitless period. If for example she is a Londoner dating only Londoners, she’d get in a hell of a muck sweat from hurtling up and down on the smelly underground, and a horrible calcified scale on the roof of her mouth from imbibing all those sticky little cappuccinos bought for her by all those hopeful blokes.”

Wilfred promptly temporised “Of course I’m employing hyperbole, but it is a measure of how truly confounded I am, and how baffled by some of the vertiginous statistics. I did a scrupulous and extremely accurate head count and I can tell you that regarding the liberal educated middle-class women aged between fifty-five and seventy-five that you Joe Soap will be approaching soon on Lovebots, no less than eighty-five per cent of them all practise Indian yoga and they also all listen to Radio Phaw.”

I guffawed my hilarious disbelief but Wilfred snorted and said that statistics do not lie and his counting had been zealous and twice checked. As it happened, some of the yoga practitioners also doubled as yoga teachers, but the more significant relationship was that all those who did yoga also listened to Radio Phaw, though of course apropos syllogistic logic not everyone who listened to Radio Phaw also practised yoga.

I said to him, “You have a bloody queer way of saying Radio Four, Uncle Wilf. It sounds more like Radio Pshaw or Radio Paugh or even Radio Faugh. Why on earth is that?”

My green-eyed great-uncle surveyed me sceptically. “I know that you yourself detest much of that station’s output, so I’m surprised you don’t see the irony in my pronunciation. In my day it didn’t exist of course, but was called the BBC Home Service and was audible even in deepest Kerry on my wonderful Bush wireless. Even then the early morning gasbags news fellers were all wearisomely stuffed and starched shirts with a brittle and hectic and risibly spurious joviality. There was also a surfeit of unfunny radio comedies laced with puerile doubles entendres, not to speak of fatuous and febrile quiz shows that would have bored a lonely nay suicidal anchorite living on a rock in the middle of the Atlantic. Then, God love us, there was the highlight of some folks’ week and which still remarkably survives in 2014, that appalling and nightmarish phenomenon known as Desert Island Dick…”

At this stage I misheard and thought he had said Desert Island Discs, but as the bizarre anthropomorphic version was to appear later and in an elaborated and luridly dramatic form, it is appropriate that I state it now as he actually said it.

“Let us for a while set aside the Radio Phaw programming, Joe boy. Instead I invite you to come with me on a nocturnal tour of a few adjacent leafy avenues in the more prosperous parts of liberal and tolerant North London. Here in every approximately twentieth house or basement flat, there dwells a single lady aged between fifty-five and seventy-five who happens to be on Lovesballs Do Come. As I said eighty-five per cent of such solo yet definitely appetising ladies, are zealous yoga buffs who also happen to be psychologically and just possibly physiologically addicted to Radio Phaw. Now then, my boy, thanks to my inherent vaticinatory propensities, I am able as easy as child’s play and without any prurient or Peeping Tom compromise, to see through their curtains and see exactly what they are up to every night of the week in their invariably scant leisure hours …”

I gawked and was about to say bloody hell, but he waved that aside and threw at me as if it were a thunderbolt “I have seen things that no man, whether alive or dead, should see pertaining to middle aged women viewed in their strange and esoteric anthropological pursuits, whilst aerially progressing along the boulevards of NW3, NW6, NW8, N12, N15! And what’s more, Joe Soap, don’t you be gullible enough to believe that W8, W10, W12, and SW7 and SE23 are any feckin different when it comes to their extremely eccentric floridity.”

I had no idea what Wilfred Lawless was about to reveal, but he swiftly informed me that when he went walkabout or rather flyabout in the inevitably Lovebird-populated London areas, what did he see but that eighty-five per cent of the women he glimpsed through the curtains, as if committed to the same masonic solidarity, were all doing exactly the same thing.

I was confident he was about to say something awful, and shatter my wishful-thinking romantic dreams, so asked him nervously: “And what precisely would that be?”

“They are all standing upon their heads, Joe! Every bloody one of them! Every feckin one.”

I gasped and sat up in my bed.

“All of these lady adepts are stood on their heads doing the yogic shirshasana. Every one of them whether in baggy track suits or very tight and not unbeguiling shorts, inevitably have their backsides in the air, as if doing inverse and arguably blasphemous homage to I’m not sure what…”

I scoffed and waved my hand at this algae-green fantasist who might conceivably have started on a downward decline into metempsychotic Alzheimer’s.

“It’s feckin true, Joe! Eighty-five per cent of these pan-London Loveberks Don’t Come are stood on their feminine nappers with their straining behinds in the air, and not only that but they are listening to bloody Radio Phaw with those same attentive and receptive backsides!”

I sneered and said I had never heard such mendacious nonsense in all my non-transcendental puff. For a start, I said, how could they possibly listen to anything with their stone-deaf backsides rather than their ears. There was no auditory apparatus in the buttocks, no incus, malleus and stapes bones as are found inside the human ear. Women didn’t have any such brilliant little bones inside their behinds, end of story, nor did they have any rump drums on the analogy of eardrums. Nor, and even if his ludicrous account were the preposterous case, would they all be sheeplike listening to the identical BBC radio station.

I threw back at him, “Even assuming your lunatic scenario, surely these Lovebirds women, even if all upside down doing shirshasana, would still be listening to Radio Phaw, I mean Radio Four, with their inverted lugholes. Why on earth would they resort to their backsides?”

At which point Uncle Wilfred halted his premonitory flow, and said he was obliged to give a substantial excursus, which as he put it was confirmatory evidence, if one happened to be a frustrated single Lovebird male, that is, that this notorious eighty-five per cent of Lovebird ladies had all the hallucinatory appearance of being the same one woman.

“Let me explain, my vainly quibbling little nephew. When you click with your doings on your hotpot on your Loveballs webshite, you will summon up a vast photographic gallery of mostly beaming single ladies in your desired age range. Should you then click on any photo of any fine girl that takes your specific fancy, you will be met with what is called her Full Pot or no do I mean her Potful…”

I took a whole two seconds to translate what he meant.

“Profile is it? Yes, and as well as her own profile, she will also state what she is looking for in the desired Adonis, Abelard or Andy or Angus from Wapping Town or Stow on the Wold or Strathpeffer. Once again, would you credit that eighty-five per cent of these ladies are all looking for the identical things in these notional and hopefully blemishless gentlemen partners.”

I gulped anxiously, “What exactly would that be Uncle Wilf?”

“I am afraid it is a bit of a roll call, or hyper-demanding checklist, Joe Soap. These eighty-five per cent of Laugh But Don’t Come girls would greatly prefer that you, Joe, along with all other male petitioners, be endowed with the following laudable virtues:

“Number one of the taxing requisites, is that you and your like be seen as being Comfortable Inside Your Own Skin.”

I frowned and touched my own skin as evidenced by my right hand, and wondered whether comfort and interiority were how I might feasibly characterise its principal attributes.

“Of course, nearly all of these terms didn’t exist in my day. And I don’t know why but that skin expression makes me think of taxidermy and the business of herpetology, or alternatively of the not at all despicable culinary art of sausage making. Sausages as you know Joe, are customarily stuffed inside a skin, and mostly in a manner comfortable to the compliant viand, I would hazard.”

I bristled in my bed and told my great- uncle I didn’t really want to be a compliant sausage, and apart from anything else I was a strict vegetarian. Nor for that matter did I wish to submit myself to the grisly skills of a taxidermist, assuming he or she took me to be a dead snake or other lifeless reptile that needed to be briskly stuffed. Then I shook myself out of my cowardly state and retrieved my vestiges of common sense, and told my great-uncle what was really meant by that dermatological phrase.

As I explained: “All they mean is they want a man to be relaxed, at ease, not neurotic nor moody nor irritable nor restless.”

Lawless pondered a while. “Not much to ask I suppose? Though truth to say it would have barred Dostoievsky, Flaubert, Mendelssohn, Winston Churchill, Leadbelly, Max Wall, myself Wilfred Lawless, and a few dozen other restless buggers as Laugh But Don’t Cry applicants. Still, and to move on, Joe, those same eighty-five per cent of fastidious ladies, all say they would very much like Mr Perfect to be, now what was it they want:

“They want him to be, wait for this, Not Just Mental!

I started and witlessly echoed, “Not just what?”  

“To which I concur, fair enough, I wouldn’t feckin blame them. After all who wants a slavering and possibly incontinent lunatic taking up valuable and intimate space in your bedroom or your kitchen or your scullery?”

I shuffled as I parried an attack of small hours cramp, then offered an emendation. “I think, Uncle Wilf, you mean ‘non-judgemental’”

“Eh? Do I indeed? And who the steaming ballcocks is Judge Mental when he’s at home? Are you sure he was ever called to the Bar with that kind of reputation?”

I looked at his sad, severe, yet lax and puzzled green face. ‘That term ‘judgemental’ is possibly culled from the long out of print Schoolgirls’ Bumper Christmas Book of Sociopsychology. There’s also an identical Schoolboys’ version of course. Non-judgemental if it means anything at all means the business of not passing judgement…”

My great-uncle snorted. “Do you say? As in the Sermon on the Mount. Judge not that…”

“Unlikely Uncle Wilfred, given that almost none of these ladies will have perused the Synoptic Gospels. In any case they don’t like the sound of that sober and chaste and old- fashioned phrase, ‘passing judgement’. Instead they like a hyphen and a suffix on the end as it gives them a certain semantic frisson as well a decidedly sensuous sometimes volcanic horripilation. They’d be a little happier I suppose, though not actually happy, if you were to translate judgemental as critical, hypercritical, carping, prejudiced, intolerant, that kind of thing.”

My uncle seemed almost cheered by that. “Aha. So they want a nice and friendly lad who is tolerant and uncritical and unprejudiced, so good for them, why not? Yet why can’t they spit it out instead of going for old Hanging Judge Mental with his black cap on his bastard’s head? But look, there’s another little puzzle of a word all these lassies use to describe a feller that preferentially will melt their heart. Any idea what that might be?”

I was tempted to suggest well-hung or stinking rich or having a summa cum laude PhD or being a yachtsman or an equestrian or a Kundalini yoga teacher, but simply shook my head.

“It’s another term didn’t exist when I was live and hale in Kerry. It’s on the tip of my tongue now. It’s something like Am I Pathetic? Or vacillations aside, on the part of some anxious and possibly less than lissom sixty-five- year- old gal who misbelieves: I Am Pathetic.”

I raised my right palm to indicate immediate comprehension. “A term that is also more than likely from that collector’s item, The Girl Guides’ Bumper Christmas Book of Psychosociology. You get the same thing in the Boy Scouts’ version too. The word is ‘empathetic’, Uncle Wilf.”

“Humpatettick? That’s some twat of a word, eh Joe? And who is this feckin Humping Hetty when she’s all on her own-i-o at home?”

“Empathetic just means sympathetic, Wilf, no more and no less. Of course, there are those earnestly employing it in every fourth sentence, who would vehemently argue for its ineffable subtlety. But as they would all give radically different exegeses, supposedly rendering some minute and inscrutable nuance, it is yet another bollicks neologism that obfuscates and conflates disparate and unrelated things, and thus spells a living death when it comes to sense and truth and moral integrity, and sundry other trifling little nonsenses like that.”

Wilfred squinted at me in a curious way. Then he tapped his sweetly odorous cigarette, and once more I was as entranced as an infant as the ash went flying back into the fag.

“She wants a lad who is sympathetic, more power to her, and why not? The problem is that yet again she can’t spit it out but has to dress it up in its best Sunday suit, which is actually a tawdry and graceless and even feckless garment in disguise. But listen to me Joe. We’ve now come to the last one on the checklist for His Nibs Your Man, The Ideal Lad, and this one is very likely a winner as it is a species of highly visual metaphor. It has to do with wine or possibly the dreaded water if the lady be teetotal, and with the necessary receptacle in the way of a glass. Do you know what I mean?”

I sighed, “No inkling, Uncle Wilf. Does she perhaps want a man to be as effervescent and invigorating as a glass of sparkling white wine? Or as pure and blameless and harmless and possibly spiritless and reeking faintly of antiseptic chlorine, as in a glass of tap water?”

Uncle Wilfred shook his head and said that no this was to do with those eternally fascinating mathematical fractions known as halves, and it also appertained to how the ideal romantic soulmate ought to see the world around him. In short it was to offer the prospective Adonis the experiential conundrum: did he view the world as a glass half full, or did he see it as a glass half empty?

I puckered my lips. “Sorry Uncle Wilfred, but it is still a variation on the same thing. It is evidently drawn from the inestimable Schoolgirls’ Bumper Christmas Book of Zen Buddhist Koans. And once again there is a  Zen Schoolboys’ version too. ”

My uncle raised his spectral eyebrows. “Epistemology and its debatable paradoxes? Meaning that both statements are true, but that one signifies optimism and the other pessimism, and in the worst case a sour and snappish bastard for your boyfriend, instead of one that will put an alluring and shapely spring in your puckish and alluringly maidenly step.”

I answered, “It’s labouring the point, but if in say five minutes time someone with courageous convictions is facing third degree torture in a hellhole of a Bahreini prison, or ditto seventy years ago where a beautiful twenty-year-old Jewess was about to enter a Nazi gas chamber, those remaining five minutes will never be a glass half full, whether you stand on your head and do Hatha Yoga with your arse listening to the BBC World Service, or no. What I mean Uncle Wilf is that it’s a wholly false antithesis these eighty-five per cent of Lovebirds folk are proposing. It’s appropriate to be optimistic sometimes, and inappropriate and even dangerous at others. For example, if you are one of those eighty-five per cent, and you find out that your daughter’s unpleasant boyfriend is molesting your beautiful four-year-old granddaughter, is it a glass half full or half empty that there has been no actual penetration to date? Alternatively, how about chucking the bloody glass away and flattening the bastard’s so-called manhood with a cast iron frying pan instead?”

Wilfred stared spellbound and I blushed a little at the outburst, then wondered if I was the first person ever to blush in front of a ghost. He then took me by surprise by pointing out what was glaringly obvious, but which had wholly eluded me up to this point. What he explained was that there was one very obvious implication apropos all these liberal, late middle-aged women wanting their prospective men to be sympathetic, tolerant, uncritical and unprejudiced, not to speak of the same chaps always seeing the bright side of things, and always being relaxed and at ease with themselves.

I pondered hard but had no inkling.

“Why man, because they believe themselves to be all those admirable things too! Don’t you see? If a Love Balls Come Quickly woman wants her man to be an eternal optimist, then she must assume that she herself is one, otherwise why would she demand it of anyone else?”

I gasped, “Fuckaduck, Uncle Wilf!”

Wilf waved his bog-green paw dismissively. “Likewise, and whether she realises it or not, she tacitly declares that she never ever passes judgement. She also genuinely believes she really knows how to be sympathetic at all times. She also subtly asserts that she is always at ease with herself. Not only that but she demands of herself all these sterling qualities, only in order to demand them of others!”

At that I felt a small lump in my throat. “The poor woman. What a bloody number! What a load to carry on your aching back. Talk about Herculean labours.”

He grunted, “And that’s how we get back to Radio Phaw being listened to by the woman’s inverted backside! It’s as plain as sago pudding, as far as I can see. This lovely but often lonely lass aged between fifty-five and seventy-five. spends all bloody day being perfectly tolerant and optimistic and uncritical in her job and in her leisure hours, not to speak of with her nagging parents and with her surly grown up kids, and with her horrible ex-husband and the rest, until in the end it addles her feckin brains, exactly as you would expect. As she goes about her daily business, you can see her muttering away darkly to herself all these demanding and myriad nostrums about what she has to do and what she has to be. Sometimes it turns into a lunatic word salad she finds herself suddenly jabbering. Comfortable Inside Her Own Shimmy. Pathetic Humping.  A Glass Half Crazy. Please no, Judge Mental! Do you get it? In the end she is like Bob Hope in that fine little classic comedy Paleface. The tenderfoot dentist in the derby hat who has to face a horrible gunslinger and the townsfolk who overwhelm him with a surfeit of tactical advice. They say to him that ‘That varmint bends to the left, so you must stoop to the right!’. Then they whisper, ‘The same varmint often fakes reaching for his gun so you just sit tight where you are and don’t you go draw’. Then they add the crucial rider, ‘Unless of course he ain’t faking it’. And so on. The dentist’s brain gets very addled, so that he starts talking gibberish and ties himself in knots, but my memory seems to tell me that the gunslinger shot himself by accident in the end. This then Joe Soap, is why the poor lass who thinks she has to be a perfect woman in order to earn the perfect man, needs urgently to relax sometimes. And what better way can there be than by doing her nightly spot of yoga whilst also listening to her beloved Radio Phaw. The problem is of course that her brain is so addled by so much effortful perfection, that she simply cannot concentrate on her favourite wireless show, as it goes in one lughole and comes out the other. So there in her headstand shirshasana posture with the gateway to her brains, her earholes, more or less useless, she has allowed evolutionary adaptation, Darwinian and Malthusian genetic adaptation that is, to correct her disabling malady.”

I stopped him there and asked what precise Darwinian adaptation was he talking about, given that such genetic determinants usually took inordinately long time periods to take any historic effect.

“The genetic matter of her backside taking over from her lugholes, of course! She’s upside down and enjoying her Radio Phaw at last, but only because her behind has learnt how to listen like an ear! Meaning how to forge an adaptive neural connection to her brain. These auditory neural connections linking buttocks and brain are more or less invisible, Joe, unless you use the latest microscopy. Not that you’re going to win Miss Nibbs’s tender heart if you ask to poke around her rear end with a fecking great electron microscope…”

Once again I snorted loudly and derided his preposterous nonsense, and said that auditory neural connections between the backside and the brain, to parody Flann O’ Brien, who of course Wilfred Lawless had read with much pleasure in the early 1960s, were all my bum…

My doleful relative counter-snorted, “Oh dear me. I can see you are a blinkered eejit when it comes to rigorous empirical science, as well as an amateur when it comes to having a truly flexible intellect. Let me give you a convincing analogy to explain what I mean. Like many a man with a sweet tooth I have needed to visit my dentist very often, with the net result I have a colossal number of metal fillings in my gob. Very well. One day back in 1962, I was snoozing out in my Ballyferriter garden when I suddenly heard the strains of Rachmaninov being broadcast very close to my earholes on the old BBC Third Programme. At which point I rapidly shook myself awake and thought to myself, that’s fecking queer…”

I was genuinely surprised by his quaint philistinism. “I’d have thought a man like you would have enjoyed a genius of a musical modernist, Wilf. You were always the progressive as I recall, and you once said that Lutoslawski…”

“Pah! I didn’t mean the great Russian whose piano music had me half way to this place, meaning the afterlife, as I hearkened to its transcendental echoes. No, it was the fact that I only had one wireless in my house and it happened to be in a Dingle TV and radio repair shop at the time. While, as I say, the music was only inches away from me, or more accurately was actually unarguably inside of me! But before, great nephew, you tut tut any more with your peevish contrariness, the reason I was listening to the Third without a solitary wireless in my house, was precisely because the BBC signals were being picked up by one of my feckin fillings!”

I leered at him very rudely. “Horseshit, Wilfred Lawless! You couldn’t have convinced a superstitious Kerry peasant of that in 1895, the kind that a bullying priest might threaten to turn into a goat, and so convincingly that the credulous bugger always believed him.”

“Like it or lump it, Doubting Joe Soap! Let me but add that it was with Filling Number One, Lower Molars, that I picked up Rachmaninov on The Third. Next to it was Radio Hilversum and a talk in Dutch about how to build a garden shed from nothing but plywood, grass and glue. On Filling Number Three, Upper Molars, American Forces Network were playing the revolutionary and intoxicating jazzman Charlie Parker who I’d never heard before but appreciated at once and without any hesitation. Adjacent on Filling Four and in English was a broadcast from Radio Sofia about soaring steel production in early 1960s Bulgaria thanks to the solidarity of the beloved proletarian people and the rooting out of treacherous bourgeois, anti-capitalist elements. Meanwhile on Fill…”

I snapped at him wearily, “That’ll do.”

“Well the conclusion is obvious enough, Joe Soap. If I was able to pick up a wonderful Radio Delhi sitar and sarangi broadcast on one of my incisor fillings in 1962, then fifty-two years later in 2014 a woman in London N12 whose brain is addled by all her self-imposed perfectionism, can easily listen to Radio Phaw with her evolutionarily adapted behind. Apart from anything else it frees her hands down below to get on with things that these days people like you refer to as auto-pilot activities. I believe you also call the curious phenomenon ‘mouldy taxis’ or the like?”

That had me stumped for a good five seconds. At length I surmised the near homophone of ‘multi-tasking’…

“Exactly. While her evolutionarily adapted backside is listening to The Archers or Desert Island Dick or Money Box with Louise Bott-Hang or Just a Feckin Minute with Micklemas Parson… down below she is busy with one of her hands on one of those new-fangled phones playing a wholly mechanical word game called Drivel or Rubble or the like. No? Scrabble? I’ll believe you. And with her other phone in her other hand, while her backside is busy with Radio Phaw, she is merrily doing her Cryptic Crosswords, a masonic kind of lexical game with pre-agreed and tortuous and wholly pointless rules, that is possibly rather less interesting than Hermann Hesse’s Glass Bead Game, and for that matter even less riveting than watching one’s kitchen sink emptying.”

And with that it was as if he had tacitly declared that he would rest his case. I meanwhile could only think of that egregious eighty five per cent of Lovebirds women and wondered how the hell I could possibly find and put my faith in the hands of the remaining  fifteen.

















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