Where was I. Ah, yes. I see I left myself upon a train. That was two days ago, or three! My business is writing yet there seems no time for it. What might I say of lunch at the Carrillion that will not paint me in a poor light. Madame Sosostris, to her mama, Merci Belvedere, is a la mode Americain and of dusky hue, which is to say she is a negro woman of statuesque build. Perhaps it should not have surprised me or I have should not have let my surprise show, except in my defence she was something of a hot-house flower in the restrained civility of the Carrillion’s luncheon room, and I, sat at table with the only large negro woman in the room, found myself caught in a public gaze I am unaccustomed to. We editors are naturally retiring folk, preferring to hover in the shadow of the one we edit.
Her scheme that MacGregor’s ‘Skye’ corresponds to the lines and bumps of the human hand is mad-hattery, but her manner is persuasive (in the way artillery persuades) and I fear she will provide yet more encouragement (as if he needed it) for Hendryk van Zelden. I argued that MacGregor’s description of Skye accords perfectly well with a map of the island to which she answered that the map is not the territory and MacGregor properly describes a psycho-geographical reality rather than the material geography of the island and took inspiration from his own hand. I then drew a map upon a napkin (to the clear irritation of a waiter) and began marking the location of key events in the text, at which point she placed her large hand upon my smaller one and said in a loud voice dripping with honey: denial ain’t just a river in Egypt. Which I fear caught the attention of the entire room.
Hendryk van Zelden is welcome to Madame Sosostris: they are equally intolerable. Spent the afternoon in the sanctuary of the British Museum and caught a late train home. Remained in an ill-mood the entire following day.
It occurs to me that some may not be familiar with Hendryk van Zelden. I have been, and must again, be elsewhere, but next time I write I ought to describe the nature of …. of…. there is no word that immediately springs to mind: nemesis, is too dramatic and enemy simply childish. Pre-occupation will do for now. The reluctant pre-occupation: the insect in my soup, that is he.
Still no word from my son. I trust that he is well. He trusts I shall not concern myself with his well-being. We cannot both be in the right.