Tuesday, 23 June 2009

The Civil War goes Global

For D.P.

In session three of what the fish had taken to calling my 'cultural enrichment programme', he asked me to take him to one of my regular haunts. He said he hoped it would help him figure out where I went wrong.

I took him to a little place in Shoreditch. 'I've only been here once,' I said, 'but they do make an excellent Sazerac.'

'Fine,' the fish countered, 'but does our waiter know who said: "when sorrows come, they come in battalions"? How do you suppose you will ever learn anything if you persist in such ignorance.'

The poor waiter's skin-tight jeans and trendy tousled hair were no match for the fish's aggressive contempt. The waiter turned his head toward me, as if to ask for help, though he looked surprised when I finally spoke up: 'if you want to know the answer, go and buy your own fish.'

Surprisingly the fish laughed loudly and said, 'that's funny, I don't know either.' He slammed his empty lowball on the glass-topped table, making an awful sound. 'Another round, young man, and one on the house!' Many made-up faces turned to stare at his outrageous behaviour.

He fixed me with judgemental eyes and asked what I hoped to gain from my purchase. I was becoming uncomfortable with the nature of our relationship. 'I rather gathered,' I said, 'that I paid for you to answer those sorts of questions, not to ask them.'

'You know,' he said after a lengthy pause, 'you cannot write poems about fish forever.'

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