Tuesday, 4 February 2003

Roland Clare 2003

Greetings all,

I come rather late to this birthday celebration.

From October 2002 onwards I didn't want to visit The Head of Orpheus for fear of reading anything about The Bat Tattoo before I'd investigated the novel itself – which I was given for Christmas, and read in leisurely fashion thereafter.

Imagine my surprise when … within 90 minutes of finishing it … I got a telephone call from Mr Hoban himself (he'd found my number in a mutual friend's Christmas card). Very pleasing to see how the web of coincidence (or undiscovered purpose) in the novels extends into the 'real' world. As we spoke I realised I was leaning one elbow on a packet of yellow A4, procured for some totally un-Hobanesque purpose. But are there any truly un-Hobanesque purposes? As the Bonzo Dog Band sang (on 'Keynsham') "There are no coincidences, but sometimes the pattern is more obvious".

It was a very interesting conversation, and during it Russ mentioned the Yellow Paper Drops, and I promised myself I'd look on the web to find out more about them. Instead, however, I re-read Angelica, Mr R-C, and Medusa, to see what episodes therein foreshadowed the story of Roswell, Sarah and so forth. Only after re-finishing Medusa, on February 3, did I look on the web … and found that SA4QE-day was February 4: not much time to prepare anything.

I'm at work now, school-teaching in Bristol UK: later in the day I hope to do some random drops, but for starters I'm mainlining bits of RH into my charges' minds by sticking my chosen quotations over some classroom television screens … I've selected the transcripts (or 'probably not') of the chant of the trotting men in The Raven from The Moment Under the Moment (which is probably the RH book I've used most in teaching English).

There was a man, his name was Jack
He tried to swim across the black.

THE BLACK WAS DEEP, THE BLACK WAS WIDE,

HE NEVER REACHED THE OTHER SIDE.

And, of course,

There is a thing, it has no name,

This thing is everywhere the same.

THIS THING IS DEEP, THIS THING IS WIDE

IT HASN'T GOT A FARTHER SIDE.

I hope everyone has an excellent SA4QE day, and I extend my humble felicitations and congratulations to the Prosperous Enchanter himself.

Happy Russmas!


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