But of course, this is not all. Not all at all. Pleasures abound in the strange old land of pineapple juice abuse. It drives the senses wild; it moves us one step closer to madness, you might say, ever-teasing the restless mind, in ways too many to count. What else can I say of our walk, excepting my new-found fondness for contorted folds? I could start, perhaps, with the cobbles; the cobbles on which we walked, the cobbles which, post-pineapple-consumption, rose like loaves and hung above the ground, eerie slabs of doughy stone floating around my feet, threatening to entrap my poor tingling toes. Up and down the cobbles we strolled; my wife and Yile nonchalant; myself strained and excited, bewildered and bewitched. For them it was nothing but an old street – for me a fantastical playground, a medieval minefield: an ever-changing landscape strewn with innumerable wonders.
From the left I was struck by a row of black railings, leaning strangely low, like a wall of soldiers bearing spears. From the right tall houses, cliff face high, pockmarked with toothsome windows and noisy doors, doors I thought might suck me in, into the dark throat of their dusty hallways and down into their warm damp cellars. Does this sound as if I were frightened? Perhaps I was, but more than anything I recall a sense of exhilaration: of sheer delight in my surroundings. The grass we passed was greener than any I’d ever seen before. The late September leaves sparkled like flecks of gold. The banks leading down to the canal gave a feeling that I can only call ‘positive vertigo’; a dreamy sort of fear – a heartwarming impression of furious height. At one point a cat rambled by, a dead damp mouse in his mouth. It was a sight that, to a normal person, might have risen only briefly above the mundane. To me, however, it offered a glimpse of some inner truth. This cat contained, to me, the very facts of our existence.
What then of Emmanuel Yile’s shoulders? Remarkable in standard circumstances, surely they clambered their way up to a whole new level when under the influence of pineapple juice? Perhaps they did – though I’m inclined to say that they didn’t. In truth, I was far too busy focusing on a fold in his bow-tie to care. Strange things happen when one is stoked with pineapple juice; the pretty details tend to overtake the larger point of view. One sees small things big and big things small. You could be so enchanted by a twig you might miss the thunderstorm raging around you. This can make you a frustrating companion – God knows how Yile and my wife were able to cope with me going into constant raptures over the shade of a leaf. Certainly it wouldn’t do one much good to be in such a state all of the time. You would, surely, get nothing done. But this doesn’t mean that it hasn’t its uses, this state of mind. Wandering around Edinburgh on an autumn afternoon may, I admit, be done just as well in a sane frame of mind. One can learn to truly appreciate the colour of leaves without drinking fourteen pints of pineapple juice.
There was, however, always more to the experiment than this. What the juice did to my vision of the world around me was one thing. What the juice would do to my reading was quite another.