The earth rotates like a bruised apple on a spit. Life leaps forward in fits and starts, like the lame dog whose misplaced enthusiasm threatens to cancel out his disability. For the most part – and for all these eccentricities –  things can be predicted.

And yet extraordinary things do happen. Yesterday, for instance, I was sidling along the sidewalk (or ‘pacing about the pavement’ as I might have said last week) only to be apprehended by a moderately inebriate man in a back-to-front baseball cap. I expected an army of nonsense to march out of his mouth. It did. But as nonsense goes, it was extraordinary nonsense. ‘You know who you remind me of?’ he asked. I had to confess that, despite an elementary understanding of mind-reading, I was stumped. Some actor, I presumed. ‘Who, pray, are you thinking of?’ I questioned.

‘F L C Gorngy’ was his reply.

You will not be surprised to hear that I was shaken to the core – for two good reasons.

Firstly, whichever way one looks at it, ‘F L C Gorngy’ is a rather unlikely name for a drunken Bostonian baseball fan to be dropping into conversation. Granted, he appears at more book festivals than most of us, but few of these are in America. I am not even sure that his great novel Fortitude 455  has ever been published in the US.

These considerations, yet, pale in the face of the second shocking issue at hand. Not only had the man heard of Gorngy, but he was comparing me to him! God bless a yellow stoat – this was a real ‘turn out for the books’. In case you don’t already know, F L C Gorngy, charming writer though he may be, is what is known as a ‘big man’. When the creamy custard is being poured, he is the man who never says ‘when’. To put it another way, I’ve seen Japanese apartments that take up less space than his stomach.

I, on the other hand, am no more than a mildy plump individual with a somewhat excessive fondness for pistachio ice-cream. As they are wont to remark in these regions: ‘go figure’


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