Sir F. Chook, Inventor of Leopard Oil

Likeness captured upon a daguerrotype machine in Japan, July 1891

Lettres

Wherein the Author reflects upon certain topical & personal issues of the Day.

A Desultory Fragment

Penned upon the 25th of April, 2012

The following is an entry to a competition, run by the ABC, challenging contestants to write the opening paragraph of an original mystery novel. It is presented here as a literary curiosity, being a piece by Sir Frederick containing a curiously low proportion of puns.

What a strange and wonderful creature a city is. There, it is said, no man knows his neighbour, and this may be true. It is no less true, though, that each man is bound up with myriad others, as different to himself and each other as can be found. City dwellers are not united by land or labour, but by business, newspapers, wireless, literary societies, clubs, parties, and matinees. To understand the mysteries of modern man, one had to understand city life. Today, a small but boisterous crowd of Londoners were being unified by a public lecture, given by the representative of the Society for Farsical Research, on “Rationality, Morality, and the Benthamic Method.” They filed into the Museum’s forecourt, where a number of folding chairs had been set up beneath the high, angular ceiling. Like Bentham, whose portrait fronted a stack of books by the lectern, senior researcher Donald Marigolds did not know where his head was. He wandered into the commissionary half an hour early for lunch, his mind distracted and purposeless. He had problems to work at; the pre-clearance layout of the alleys of Spitalfields, and a sizeable bequest by a museum-minded veteran of the Crimea. Still, he longed for something immediate, something vital, something recherche. The voice of the lecturer floated in through the doorway – “if A is happy and B is not, but B is worthy of more prosperity than A…” – and broke his reverie.


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