‘Let’s run through this again,’ said my wife, pouring me a glass of white (though I distinctly remember asking for red).
‘Who is Maurice Orbez?’
‘Well,’ said I, ‘according to Carl Stensson…’
‘He’s the one who smells like a wild boar, yes?’
If you didn’t already know, my wife is incredibly sensitive to smell, ordering all the people she knows according to their personal scent.
‘You’re thinking of A—– d– L——‘
‘Oh. So what about this Stensson chap then?’
‘He’s the guy who thought that Van Gogh faked his death. You said he smelled like a d—- f—‘
She stroked her right eyebrow gently. ‘Oh yes. I remember now. So what’s his line on d’Orbey?’
Orbez,’ I corrected her. ‘It’s Orbez. That’s the problem. d’Orbey is someone else entirely.’
‘So who’s Orbez?’
‘Well, that’s a matter of opinion. Stensson thinks that it’s a man from the nineteenth century who wrote a couple of novels about medieval wall-scrawlings, with or without the help of a defrocked nun.’
‘I see,’ said she. ‘And what do other people think?’
‘Well, Andrew…’
‘Who’s he?’
‘You’ve never smelled him. He’s some blogger fellow.’
‘I see. Can’t he afford a surname?’
‘Perhaps not,’ I said, giving her a look to suggest that, in this fair country, it is frowned upon to make fun of those who cannot afford surnames.
‘And what does he say about Orbez?’
‘He’s all for the defrocked nun,’ I explained. ‘He thinks she wrote the whole bang lot. Not only that, but she wrote them in code.’
‘What sort of code?’
‘I know not.’
She sipped her wine. I sipped mine. Vinegary. As I expected.
‘Are you still reading that new O’Droningham novel?’ she asked.
‘You know I am. Why do you ask?’
‘Well, you know – it’s just, what with you and your naughty monks, and all this stuff about defrocked nuns, I’m just wondering whether or not you might be causing undue offence to certain members of the religious community.’
‘Well, is it really necessary? You don’t want to give the impression that all monks release their sexual frustrations by writing erotic science-fiction, or that European history is full of defrocked nuns assuming false-names and hiding codes inside books about medieval graffiti..’
I scratched my nose wearily.
‘You may be right. In fact, I’m almost certain that a significant proportion of monks don’t fantasize about making love to aliens. Still, what can you do? I can’t risk not risking offending people.’
She spat a mouthful of wine back into the glass.
‘See?’ I said.
She sniffed. ‘ You know I hate it when you say that’.


6 thoughts on “Conversation

  1. The matter of code is tantalising but obscure, though some would say tantalisingly obscure. I hasten to clarify, and indeed add, that I have no cohesively formed view on the matter, lacking as I do in sufficient intellectual grounds for having a cohesively formed view on said matter. I have merely heard mentioned, in some would say sordid ecclesiastical corridors, hints that the location of the Ark of the Covenant os some such great Mystery are contained within the Wall Scrawlings…and regarding the code something about translating to Swedish and from there to Finnish but inverting the e’s, whatever that means.

  2. Many thanks for scraping the traces of this intriguing tattle from the stained tables of untruth. When the milkman arrives with bottles of spare time, I will duly use it to look into this further.

  3. The field of my doubtfulness is plagued by the locusts of intrigue, as Georgy would no doubt say.
    I will also look into this, gloriously aided as I will be by the fact that I actually own these books (unlike some, eh, Herr Riecke?)

  4. And with a name like that, Carl , perhaps not wholly incapacitated in the capacities required to implement the translating procedures alluded to?

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