Mme Roux wants to know why I can’t come out to play.
Today would be fine but she wants me outside a year ago and then when I could not walk, when (well) - I could not walk. She knows this and I wonder why then she is so insistent unless it is because I am her excuse, and she doesn’t really want to try for the saddle in the Tangra Mountains. It was still chin-deep in snow back then and if her Rolls is armoured then it isn’t heated.
“You seem alright now, darling?”
I do and it’s nice of her to say so. In my head and mirrors aside I’m still that lean little beast of twenty-three summers, and she likewise although she looked the same then – I ask about that, she sniggers. A half life away for me and last Tuesday week for her. The minx. She rather likes it that I suffer from gout. It suggests somehow a long hard time tracking the source of the Limpopo, or hunting polar bears with not so much a Martini Henry as a Martini & Rossi. I met her first in Berlin, when she ordered a dry Martini and got three vermouths.
So gout and a summer in pain, and such pain it was that whilst I was getting better then still when meeting Mike Moorcock I was like he on a stick. Gout, but no Limpopo. An agony and since controlled by diet.
She thinks that very funny. We laugh but it’s her in the shapka and Czarist blues, and here and if rainy then still here and rainy in May, She wants to know the form of my abstinence?
Beef. So no steak and no proper pasties. No Sloppy Giuseppe (the last one in Rome and ’46). No hearty stews, no lean with the mustard spread thick. Neither also marmite, vegemite or elsewise other Princes of toast. Nothing pink. No offal, no hardship - but for liver which alone it seems I always enjoyed. No Ned’s Atomic Dustbin. No wine that is fizzy. No wine that is red, which always made me sick but thankfully and with tea I am safe. Not too many laughs, no cure for sanity. No nose, know, know, there’s no limits.
She thinks gout is to do with too much live cheese, crusted port and those little round hats worn with smoking jackets. But it’s arthritic, which is not so much to do with polar bears (with or without syrupy Cinzano). Can’t walk, can’t sleep, every second thought is - and I have the evidence – ow. Not much good for the mountains though Mme Roux says I could do it seated. Right up until and like last time we are hounded by Chinese bandits. Which is a hell of a thing in the Tangra range, for the Tangra range is in Bulgaria.
She’s trying hard to sulk and doing it badly. I was right, I’m a skive. Mme Roux turns up at the oddest times and her times are at odds with my own. I’ve got no gout right now but it’s on my mind because not having it I’m watching with sharply whittled eyes for the first signs of this year’s bout. It’s there somewhere.
And like me it misses the occasional steak.