FROM THE DIARIES
AND NOTEBOOKS OF
resolutions have eluded me but once again, the aching in my skull prompts
thoughts of redemption. Indeed, my soul is in need of reclamation to the Higher
Sphere. Let me come down to earth, and state the facts clearly for some future
literary aesthete who may perchance stumble upon Pimley's diary.
Who am I?
Dear reader, I am no more than your earnest Victorian gentleman, spurned by our
dear, damned distracted century, this age of doubt when freethinkers roam and
seek innocents in our broody streets. I am Mr Preston Pimley, youngest son of
Harold Pimley, chemist, of Richmond on Thames, but hailing from the county of
Lancashire in his roots. I am dept Preston as I was the last of ten, and my dear
pa named me after his birthplace. My dear Mamma thanked the Creator that her
birthplace had not figured in this process, as she first opened her eyes on this
Vale of Tears in Biggleswade.
My past is
darkened by gloom and rejection, and I find myself orphaned at the age of
thirty-three. The goddess of matrimony has not claimed me, nor has that frosty
taskmaster, Vocation, collared me to toil in his host. I am a free spirit with a
modest income from the estate of my deceased parents, who perished in a boating
accident on Windermere.
I have enough
to live plainly, as I fill my days in single, harmless bachelor pursuits,
penning sonnets, walking far into town and country, indulging my spirit of
scientific enquiry, and appearing to be, in the eyes of my suburban neighbours,
an ordinary chap.
siblings but one have also fallen to the sickle of Death. Only poor Septimus
lives on, roaming Africa in search of game and women, or game women, as he jests
on his rather chirpy visits home to leach off me for a while. I love him dearly
but he is quite mad, and I have resolved to measure his head in the interests of
science. But wait! What mysteries lurk within this common soul? What restless
seas of passion stir the inner spirit of he who walks with cane and bowler,
notebook in hand? It is the Great Work: the pursuance of that opus of
scholarship on the Compendium of Global Sexuality and Beliefs, which will
establish a Pimley in posterity, ensconced with Mr. Darwin, Mr. Lyell, Mr. Mill
and the rest.
what do I resolve? Tis a new year, begod. I have squandered the last year, the
supposed annus mirabilis; it went sour, wasted away by my lazing, my damned
procrastination and weaknesses of the flesh.
But you, kind
Reader of the future, you do not wish to know the lusts of my flesh. Or do you?
For we are a species that thrives on curiosity; hence my Great Work. Readers
will indeed wish to know the various weaknesses of the various flashes strewn
about the Vale of Tears. The current chapter, for instance, concerns the onanism
of the Gatopsis of Owasaybo, a people sadly unstroked by the Christian Hand of
Salvation, or indeed any other Hand from our dear land.
digress. Back to the New year. This Year, this open meadow of delight, must
yield these items:
The Compendium must be completed by June.
The Pimley name must find its home in a new species of horse-fly.
Lord Pupwell will become a friend, will get my feet under the table in his
dining-room if I die in the attempt.
My humorous sketches and dramas will burst upon the London stage.
Septimus must settle down. I shall find him a suitable spouse.
I know, dear
Reader of the future, that the above appears to be a list engendered by
dilettantism. Superficially, this is so, but in truth, Pimley's credo is that of
the Renaissance scholar-gentleman. I wish to give to history the sequence Da
Vinci, Newton, Hume, Pimley. This is not arrogance, nor Insanity: it is the
aspiration of a noble mind in an age of dullards and cramping mediocrity.
about the young rascal from Borridge's Bibulosity -he was pert in the extreme.
If I had not been eager to stock up on the claret, I should have boxed his ears.
The interchange at the door went something like this:
boxes of claret, Sir.
this is the front door, young man.
can see that Sir. I have two eyes here see (he points to bright orbs and
Indeed, but there is a tradesman's entrance around the back, and you are a
Only in my appearance Sir. In my spirit I am as good as you or the great Mr.
Begone, you scoundrel. I shall report your manner to the aforesaid Mr. Borridge.
won't listen, Sir. Says you should pay your bill before I bring these boxes in.
my bill! Good Lord! That's the final insult. I shall take my debts elsewhere.
gave him two pence to go away and leave the claret in my vestibule. There was
indeed a bill, attached to a lid, with the words, 'Begging your honours
attention, but this bill of thirty pounds is long overdue. Cough up or else I'll
get the Law. Borridge.' I mean, the very impudence of it! A tradesman! A very
soiler of the digits, addressing a GENTLEMAN so. I shall tell Lord Pupwell of
it, and Borridge shall be ruined.
Went into the
City, into the fog, to reclaim the fallen. As a member of the Brethren of the
Bond, it is my duty. Waifs must be brought back into the Lord's light. But the
evening was fruitless. The only young vagabond I saw was truculent to say the
least. I placed a loving hand on his starveling shoulder and he turned to me and
spat. 'Leave 'orf, you boss-eyed spunker!' were his words. I noted them down
particularly, as Lord Pupwell's friend, Rev. Clutterbuck, is a scholar of
language. The waif scampered away into the jungles of Finsbury.
though. Received a copy of the new issue of the Repository, Lord Pupwell's
journal, with my sonnet to Greece on page 52. My line, 'Oh Hellas, home of stout
fellas, Oh Greece, home of Peace' is now in print for future literary coves to
lackadaisical with the old diary. Time trots by and I seem to sip sherry and
dream. Daytime reveries consume me, chiefly when trying to write my chapter on
the penis for the Compendium. Indeed, the human penis is a mystery, with its
stippled mushroom crown and blue-coursed stiffness forming the simulacrum of a
tool, it presses a scholar to find descriptive words of beauty at all. Yet it
can be done. I must persist. Perhaps I have studied only a limited range of
rods. One needs to scrutinise the great and goodly ones in order to write with
authority. I shall attend the boxing match at Twickenham and watch the packets
wobble in the ring.
correspondents in the far reaches of the globe have been helpful. I have been
endeavouring to locate the people with the largest, most impressive penis, and
several missionaries and scholars have been informative here. The Rev. Harry
Stain in the Congo writes that he saw 'a whopper, perhaps sixteen inches' and
this was during some awesome ritual in the back of beyond, but he continues,
'However, I had been plied with considerable blandishments of palm oil spirit
and other potent delectables, that I had not my full wits about me.
Dullich from Australia insists that an aboriginal gentleman who runs a prophecy
business in ChooggamaGorra ' Possesses a wondrous banana of over a foot when in
slack state' and he goes on to speculate, 'Heaven knows to what length the thing
extends when Mrs. Braccagooni excites the fellow.' He helpfully includes a
by the Rev. Moody on this chilly sabbath. He was in excellent form on his text
of 'despair' - a subject with which I am intimately acquainted. Despair has been
my twin since my arrival in this Vale of Tears and all those I loved, save
Septimus, were snatched from me. I was led to sit down and write an account of
the fates of these beloveds when I returned home from the service.
Mamma and Pa:
drowned while rowing an unsafe craft in Windermere.
Swallowed a cupful of Pa's Essence of Arsenic.
on a nail in pa's workshop and the wound went septic.
Perished on the slopes of Saddleback while on a picnic with Pa.
Broke neck while playing rugger with Pa on the lawn.
in childbirth. Can't blame Pa there. (Unless... no, surely!)
Lost while taking a holiday in Albania. Pa looked for hours in all the
hostelries in the one settlement we found.
Wandered into a blizzard, wearing only his nether pants. Found frozen to an
animal of some kind. That was in the Levant.
in the Indian Wars. Found in a drinking-house, raving.
Gang-raped while walking with Pa in Scandinavia. Pa found new species of
butterfly that day, and was in raptures.
the phrenologist to inspect me today. He had pestered long enough, and I finally
yielded while buying chitlings for lunch. This was part of the new Pimley health
regime. Mc.Fadgeon had given me perhaps two years to live if I continued in the
present state of what he called 'wine poisoning' and I resolved to change my
life. Dyker's skull measuring, I innocently believed, could do me no harm, and
so I invited him for afteroon tea, with crumpets and chitlings.
Dyker has the
most peculiar body I have ever looked on. I could include a full chapter on him
in the Compendium if I could but proceed scientifically to scrutinise the
dimensions of his cheek bones. The man is square, solid as a bull, with the
broadest head and neck of any man I have noted. His hair is curled in such a way
that it protrudes in spikes all around his knoll, and his smile is as sincere as
a letterbox being opened by the push of a package.
utterly stationary, dear Pimmers'... he muttered, as he calipered my cranium.
Then he was silent as he busied himself putting chalk-marks onto some bizarre
notepad on the table. He breathed in a laboured way, attempting to suck air in
as he clenched his lips full together. The result was like a steaming kettle,
and all the while he prodded my head, measured every bump, and tutted.
At last he
sat down and said, 'Done. Measured up. Oh dear. Tut tut old chap.
'What is your
cause of concern Dyker?'
occipital relief undersized....'
buffer, you have a fevered cerebral ultra-function which may impair the
ratiocinatory faculties if the imbibing of potent liquors does not abate.'
you'll have the most boring great headaches if you continue supping that red
plonk. And you perhaps have syphilis!'
At this last
remark, I threw him out and hurled a bottle of milk at him. The jackanapes was
out to insult me, simply because I beat him at billiards the other week.
in the cellar tomorrow. The tip-off is that the duns are coming.
Received a knock on the door and who was there but Dimpel, beaming.
'You are to
accompany me to the meeting, reviews editor....
delighted. I could barely hold my wits together, and it was some ten minutes by
the time I had changed into my artistic suit. I reserve my bottle green aesthete
suit for poetry readings, recitals and lectures on the Italian Renaissance.
There are no wine-stains on that suit, and I sprinkle it with pot pourri once a
was serene, radiant, triumphant! By eight thirty I had haggled my way into being
allotted two pages of reviews.
I have a heap
of tomes awaiting review, and I here append them as a milestone In my progress
as literary man and scholar:
Manners of the Gokohupas by Sir Augustus Wippitt.
among the Heathen by An Enlightened Gentleman
by a certain Anthony Trollope
History for Little People by Thomas Pratt, Bart.
A Garland of
Lyrics for the Oppressed by Lucinda Crapper.
They seemed a
pretty decent crop, with the exception of the trivial novel. This Trollope chap
will never make it. No idea of structure. He'll never get very far if he insists
on leaving African safaris out of his fictions.
inherited a postbag. Lord Pupwell had apparently received several letters 'To
the editor' which had accumulated for some months now, and he passed them on to
me to deal with.
'You write in
a nice hand.' He said, and poured me a glass of sherry. He's SO VERY CULTURED,
Had a few
measures of claret and then sat down to answer the letters. They were rather
peculiar, so I include them here for posterity, hence some understanding of the
very heart of the London literary scene of 1870 may be appreciated by the future
historian of letters (ha, a pun, I believe!)
The first is
from Mr. Armageddon Brown of Mablethorpe:
As a devoted
reader of the Repository for the last year, I would like to draw your attention
to the fact that you have rebuffed me and my poetic efforts no less than eighty
times in that period. I now demand an explanation. You clearly have not the
slightest inkling to whom you address your curt note of, 'The editor regrets
that the enclosed submission is not of sufficient merit to warrant a place in
our quality arts publication.'
Well Gad man,
pardon me for breathing! I am Professor (emeritus) of Greek at the University of
Oxford, and I only dwell in Mablethorpe because I had the misfortune to develop
a swelling on my posterior, which distracted the scholars and made my lecturing
on Pindar risible in the extreme.
I write collections of verse, in Greek measures, here in my retreat by the
gently lapping North Sea. I fish, I meditate and I compose lines of such beauty
that your publication does not understand them. I wish to ask you two simple
questions. 1. Are you able to read Greek Sir? and 2. Do you wish to meet me at
dawn on the eighteenth instant, with pistols on Clapham Common?
And from Mr.
Algie Hawberry, a note of frustration:
It is with
deep regret that I withdraw my subscription to your journal. After long
deliberations with my conscience, I have decided that no gentleman may continue
his literary connections with a publication which refers openly and without
blushes, to the word 'appendage'.
And from Mrs.
depths has the world of letters fallen? You refuse to consider my narrative
concerning Ethel Dolbert, an Englishwoman made concubine to an Albanian bandit?
And on what grounds? You actually object to scenes of explicit passion? Really,
I must protest. Even in the works of the Bard you will discover offensive
phrases, particularly in the coarse manner, as in the 'wind instrument'
reference in 'As You Like It', and in Hamlet's 'Country matters', so what in the
name of Hades is wrong with, 'Her white limbs were firmly bound with dog's
intestine and the dove-white sex-slave was lodged in a cavern to await their
pleasure'? Tell me what is offensive and I shall edit out the nasty words.
onerous duties as literary chap were therefore rather astonishing, as you see.
But a veritable wedge of poetry had to be waded through before bedtime.
disturbing experience must be recounted to you today, Dear Reader. It was an
encounter with the Watcher. Am I going insane! I never actually SAW him, in any
substantial sense, but he was there. It was indeed the Unknown who scrutinises
me. But let me begin at the beginning.
I had been
urged by Chief Brother Ronald to venture into the depths of the Great Wen and
reclaim a soul. It began with the Chief Brother's visit at about ten in the
morning. I was snipping cigars when he arrived. There was the usual massive
shadow blocking out the sunlight from the hall, so large is the man.
him into the parlour and offered him tea, but he chose to remain standing.
'I am a man
with a mission, Pimley.... He smiled in that unconvincing way that really means
'I have a task for you.' He is tall, square and very solemn. I shiver at the
sight of him, for he is every inch the undertaker. That is his profession, but
he fulfils the role of Chief Brother at our Brethren Councils and is looked up
to by all. His beard is menacing and the cragged head under the tall black hat
is most unsettling to a chap trying to concentrate on toasting crumpets by the
'You carry on
with your sweetmeats,' he says, blocking out the light at the window. 'I shall
deliver your chore.'
The task is
very simple. You are to find Smithers.'
Butter runs down my chin and I blush.
lost youth, almost brought into the Fold but now relapsed and in the grip of
Sin. Go seek him, Brother Preston.'
Depths, young man, the very lowest depths of despair.'
teeth quite put me off my tea, and I felt a strange power emanate from him. His
eyes seemed to compel attention.
'We had him
within salvation's reach.... just two days ago, but the lepers heaved him back
to the hells of London. Bring him back to us, Pimley, bring him back, and the
highest rewards shall be thine....'
He turned and
left, without another word. All he did was place a scrap of paper on the table.
I read this: 'Smithers, The Crescent, Little Crack, Soho.' It was all Greek to
me, but one thing was clear: I stood to gain the ultimate esteem of my Brethren
- the Indigo Scimitar of the Creator. I would find this young man and reclaim
recorded the encounter with the Watcher yesterday. After Ronald had left, I went
to purchase some provisions for the journey into the depths, and I had just
spoken the words, 'aniseed balls' when the shopkeeper told me that a young man
was gesticulating at me from the doorway. I turned, and I saw only the
disappearing foot and cape. I knew that it had been the Watcher. My sprint to
the door entailed crashing into several displays of Althrup's Patent Elixir and
I was later to be billed for eighty-two bottles of the stuff.
But I saw
only a dark figure in the distance, turning into a side-street. Once again, I
had missed a direct confrontation with him. Nevertheless, I regained my
composure and went down the checklist of essential gear for Going Under as the
Brethren called a hunt for souls in the Wen:
malt whisky long coat
prepared for anything that the pits of degradation could offer me, and returned
home well-stocked, but profoundly troubled by the persistent presence of this
mystery man. It was clearly time to consult Harry Hever and enlist some
assistance in the matter.
Harry and I
share the same enthusiasm for horse-flies, and at first, I could not turn the
conversation to the subject of mysterious watching chaps.
I've something to show you.'
off into an antechamber, and returned with a bowl of wriggling maggots. 'See....
diptera and they shall, when mature, have a thorax of larger extension than any
other horse-fly! Yes, I'm certain of it.'
YOU are going to win?
I'm afraid so, old boy. There shall be a Heverae fly! Shake my hand like a
I did indeed,
but felt mightily peeved inside. The cad was revelling in his victory. I was so
abashed that for a minute or so I was reluctant to ask his help, but necessity
drove me to yield.
I've come to ask some advice.'
'Well bat on,
old chipper... anything I can do?
'Hope so. The
fact is, I'm being followed by a young chap.
bad business. The man's a Hello Gordon.... probably accosts you near the Drury
Lane spot eh?
You're mistaken. This is more serious. I think he's been paid to fill me with
terror by persons unknown... and he's succeeding.'
'Oh come, not
my chum Preston! No terror there surely?
old cove... I'm rather letting the side down.'
but how do you know he's a thug?
either a thug or a ... .a phantom!'
me a gin and tonic. That was a fatal move, because it led to another, and
another and another.
By the time I
hinted that I should be on my way, I tried to move and couldn't. True. I could
not move a limb. Harry confessed that he, too, was stone-still inebriate and we
tried to speak further, but only the following conversation ensued:
ablitotly ooools breenie.
mom, as the blackbird twittered, I awoke, supine on his sofa. He was in a heap
on the floor.
evil today. Only managed to spit into the fire and then slept again. Gittins, my
servant, must have changed my pants. Awful smell everywhere.
Ready for the
London excursion. studied the map and packed the survival bag. Harry came around
and delivered my nether garments. Said he'd had them washed by an old crone who
owed him a favour.
Bless the old
vomit-sack, he offered to accompany me, and brought his grubs with him to pass
the time. I feel the Scimitar on my flesh already. Smithers, we seek thee!
today, and resolved to do the job. Set off with Harry at nine of the evening,
into the putrid cellars of the underclass. We fortified ourselves with some
three pints of mixed and a dram or two before finding a spot in a corner where
we could lie down and await a contact. Sooner or later, a pander was certain to
come, plying his or her trade. Sure enough, at one in the morning, in the cold
well after lights out, a hairy hand lay upon mine, and a voice said, 'I heard
you seek a little 'un.'
'How do you
listening in the pub.... you seek Smithers?
'In faith I
'Oh, I am a
Madam. I am of the female variety, good sir. Harriet Clacket to be precise.'
forfend! How could such bushy hirsuteness belong to any feminine soul? I peeped
into the ochre light and saw a grizzled face, ravaged by hard times, cold
weather and the thump of a broad hand.
service, m'Lord Harriet Clacket always delivers...'
in a way that made your bottom shiver and whispered for us to follow her. Harry
gathered his wits and cloak and came along. Unfortunately for him, however, he
had been toying and gloating over his grubs and the Clacket woman saw this. No
sooner had he emerged into the light than she grabbed them and poured them into
her ample mouth.
Devil take you woman... that's larvae of Heverae flies.'
good.... imagine them on toast, young sir!'
heathen. There goes my immortality!' He almost wept.
reader, if you have stayed with this horrendous narrative so far, then bear with
me. I went, running from that dreadful crone, into the abyss.
Zeus on high,
and all Olympus! I wandered from the narrow road. The Wen has torments to ruin
the firmest corset. It was like a dream of death: a stagger into Hades, my
brother. How can I convey to one who sits reclined in comfort, in domestic bliss
with fair cherubs around his knees and the wifely presence in evidence by
stroking his brow.... how can I, I say, draw in words the dank, sorrowful pit of
human detritus which meets the unwary down Pestilence Court.?
you will a floating cesspit, with towering wooden scaffoldings projecting
through the stink and rats into the grey firmament above the Thames. Picture a
seething maggot-mass of semi-human shapes, groaning with the weight of sin.
Brethren, what more could I do but hail them and give them heed of hellfire?
In faith, I
print here the homily I shouted at the crawling simian groping dirt-crusted
You are the
lost, ye children of the stews. Drop to the earth now and beg forgiveness for
your sins which have brought you to this. Woman - take the babe from your dugs
and take up the gin bottle. I mean, turn that around, and you'll get my gist.
And you, labourer - scowl not at your sodden undergarments and cease your
you all. The Lord of Thunderbolts will forgive, even unto the last intake of
That is as
far as I got. Two burly chaps grabbed me and dumped me into a boat full of tripe
and chitlings bound for the Groat and Liver tavern