The Sacred Book of the Werewolf

Chapter Eleven


'Phoo, how crude,' I said.
'But it's the truth. And the tragedy of Russian liberalism is that nobody's ever going to give the weasel any money anyway.'
'Why not?' I asked.
'Because ten years ago those greasy parasites were choked with greed, now they are shitting their pants in fear, and in ten years they won't have any money at all.'
It's a rare thing, I thought, for all three tenses in Russian to be combined in a single sentiment as hopelessly gloomy as that.
'Do you favour a review of the results of privatization?' asked Lord Cricket, who was listening carefully.
'And why not?' put in E Hu-Li. 'If you analyse it properly, the whole of human history for the last ten thousand years is nothing but a constant revision of the results of privatization. History is hardly likely to come to an end because a small number of people have stolen a large amount of money. Not even if the small number of people hire themselves three fukuyamas apiece!'
My sister E occasionally liked to express some radical, even seditious views - it suited her predatory beauty and instantly enchanted her future victim. And now I noticed how admiringly Alexander was gaping at her.
'Precisely!' he said. 'I ought to write that down. A pity, I haven't got a pen. But what's a fukuyama? Some sort of geisha?'
'Pretty much,' said E Hu-Li and turned so that Alexander could see her profile. In profile she is absolutely irresistible.
Why you toad, I thought. After you promised . . . But even so I couldn't help admiring her: my sister E understood nothing about Russian affairs, but she sensed instinctively what to say in order to slip the noose over a man's head at the first attempt. Alexander was gazing at her with his mouth wide open and I realized I had to rescue him in a hurry. I had to say something even more radical.
'And so all these arguments about liberalism,' I said, as if I were closing the subject, 'are simply a case of linguistic confusion. And although we greatly respect liberal democracy as a principle, in Russian the words will give off a bad stink for another hundred years or so!'
Alexander switched his adoring gaze from E Hu-Li to me. Then back to E Hu-Li. Then back to me again. The boy's having a real feast today, I thought.
'Yes, yes,' he said. 'You're right about the words. It's so easy to hide behind them. One of those offshore fat cats arrives in America, says he's a liberal, and the oppressed blacks think he's in favour of legalizing cannabis . . .'
'Tell me, is your professional activity not hindered by such an emotional attitude to the subject?' Lord Cricket asked.
Alexander didn't appreciate the irony.
'Don't misunderstand me. I don't mean to say that democracy is bad. It's good. What's bad is when villains and swindlers try to exploit it. So democracy has to be helped to move in the right direction. That's what we think.'
'That's no longer democracy,' said Lord Cricket. 'It's in the essence of democracy that no one helps it, it helps itself.'
'No one helps it? In translation that means we sit on our backsides and watch while we're shafted in every orifice by various beneficiary owners with double chins and triple citizenships. We watched for twenty years. They'd already drawn up the plans to divide Russia into three parts and started to train the Russian-speaking staff, we know, we know . . . We've read the instructions. Do you think we started tightening the screws just for the love of it? If so, you're mistaken. It's just that if we had-n't, we'd have been gobbled in three years.'
'Who would have gobbled you up?' Lord Cricket asked in surprise. 'Democracy? Liberalism?'
'Democracy, liberalism - those are just words on a signpost, she was right about that. But the reality is more like the microflora in your guts. In the West, all your microbes balance each other out, it's taken centuries for you to reach that stage. They all quietly get on with generating hydrogen sulphide and keep their mouths shut. Everything's fine-tuned, like a watch, the total balance and self-regulation of the digestive system, and above it - the corporate media, moistening it all with fresh saliva every day. That kind of organism is called the open society - why the hell should it close down, it can close down anyone else it wants with a couple of air strikes. The question is, how do you arrive at this condition? What they taught us to do was to swallow salmonella with no antibodies to fight it, or other microbes to keep it in check at all. Not surprisingly we developed such a bad case of diarrhoea that three hundred billion bucks had drained out before we even began to understand what was going on. And we were only given two choices - either to run out completely once and for all through some unidentified asshole, or take antibiotics for ages and ages, then slowly and carefully start all over again. But differently.'
'Well, you've never had any shortage of antibiotics in your country,' said Lord Cricket. 'The question is - who's going to prescribe them?'
'People will be found,' said Alexander. 'And none of your World Bank or IMF, who first prescribe salmonella and then set the basin under your backside - we don't need any consultants. We've been through that already. Soar boldly over the edge of the cliff, they say, come down smack on to the ground as hard as you can, and then you'll hear the polite applause of the international community. Maybe we'd be better off without the applause or the cliff? After all, for a thousand years Russia decided for itself how to live, and it worked quite well, you only have to look at the map to see that. And now they say it's time for us to go into the melting pot. We'll see whose turn it is for the melting-pot. If someone wants to melt us down that badly, maybe we'll be the ones to send him up in black smoke. We still have the means, and we will for a long time yet!'
Alexander smashed his fist down deafeningly on the desk, making the projector and the laptop bounce into the air. And then silence fell and I could hear a fly that had lost its way fluttering between the windowpane and the blind.
There were times when I myself couldn't understand what roused the greatest turmoil in my heart - the monstrously huge instrument of love that I had to deal with when he changed into a wolf, or these wild, genuinely wolf-like views on life that he expressed when he was a man. Perhaps I found the latter just as fascinating as, as . . . I didn't pursue my thought to the end - it was too frightening.
Especially since there was nothing to be fascinated by. For all his apparent radicalism, he only ever talked about the consequences and didn't even mention the cause - the 'upper rat', engaged in slobbering self-satisfaction (that's why I hate the word 'blowjob', I thought, there you have it - the psychopathology of everyday life). In fact, Alexander probably understood everything, but he was just being cunning, the way a werewolf is supposed to be: you can only live in Saudi Arabia and not notice the sand for big money, and he certainly had that. Or perhaps he wasn't being cunning . . . After all, I'd only really understood everything about the 'upper rat' and the 'oligarchy' when I tried to explain it all in a letter to my sister U. And I still didn't know how a wolf's mind worked.
The first to recover his composure was Lord Cricket. His face assumed an expression of sincere sadness (of course, I didn't actually think that it was sincere - it was simply that the British aristocrat's mimetic skill required that precise word). He looked at his watch and said:
'I can understand your feelings to some extent. But, to be honest, I find it boring to pursue the path along which your mind is moving. It's such a barren desert! People spend their entire lives engaged in arguments like that. And then they simply die.'
'So,' said Alexander, 'do you have other options to suggest?'
'Yes I do,' said Lord Cricket. 'Take my word for it, I do. There are creatures living among us who are of a different nature. I understand that you take a keen interest in them.'
'That's right,' said Alexander. 'What do you know about them?'
'First of all,' said Lord Cricket, 'I know that they are not occupied with the petty matters of which you speak with such fervour. They simply do not notice the mirages that make us turn crimson and hammer our fists on the table . . .'
Alexander lowered his head.
'It is unlikely that you could even explain to them,' Lord Cricket continued, 'exactly what it is that makes you feel so bitter. As Thoreau put it, they march to the sound of a different drummer . . . Or perhaps it is better to say that they don't march at all. They have no ideology, but that does not mean their lives are diminished. On the contrary. Their lives are far more real than those of human beings. For, after all, what you were just talking about is no more than a bad dream. Take a fifty-year-old newspaper and read it. The truncated, silly-looking letters, the paltry ambitions of dead men who don't yet know that they are dead men . . . Everything that you are so concerned about now is in no way different from what set minds seething then - except, perhaps, that the order of the words in the headlines has changed. Wake up!'
Alexander's head had sunk right down into his shoulders now - he was totally embarrassed. Lord Cricket apparently knew how to go for the jugular.
'Surely you would like to find out who these beings of a different nature are? And understand how they differ from human beings?'
'Yes, I would,' Alexander muttered.
'Then forget all this nonsense, and let's get down to business. Today I'm going to tell you about what lies concealed behind the ability of certain people to transform themselves into animals - an ability that is real, not metaphorical. Anthy, is everything working? Then turn off the light, please . . .'
'What you are about to hear,' said Lord Cricket, 'is normally regarded as esoteric knowledge. Therefore I ask you to keep what you hear secret. The information I intend to share with you originates from the Pink Sunset Lodge, or, more precisely, from Aleister Crowley, Aldous Huxley and their line of secret transmission. The condition of secrecy that I have mentioned is essential, not so much for the sake of the lodge, as for your own personal safety. Do you accept this condition?'
Alexander and I exchanged glances.
'Yes,' I said.
'Yes,' Alexander repeated, after a brief pause.
Lord Cricket touched one of the keys on his laptop. A diagram appeared on the wall - a man sitting in the lotus position, with a vertical line drawn along his spine. Set along this line were symbols marked with Sanskrit characters, looking like different-coloured cogwheels with various numbers of teeth.
'No doubt you are aware that a human being is not merely a physical body with a nervous system, restricted to the perception of the physical world. On the subtle plane a human being is a psycho-energetic structure consisting of three channels of energy and seven psychic centres called chakras.'
Lord Cricket ran his finger down something rather like a bicycle chain connecting the cogwheels on the spine.
'This subtle structure not only regulates a human being's spiritual life. It is also responsible for the way in which he or she perceives the surrounding world. Each chakra is related to a specific set of psychic manifestations, which I won't go into just now. What is important for us is that, according to the traditional occult view, spiritual progress consists in the ascent along the central energy channel of a force known as "kundalini", or "snake energy".'
A part of the previous diagram appeared on the screen, showing an inverted triangle at the very base of the spine.
'In its coiled state, Kundalini slumbers in this triangular bone called the "sacrum". The sacrum is located at the base of the spine - in fact, it is its first bone. Or its last, depending on your point of view. In traditional occultism it is believed that the gradual charging of the chakras with the kundalini force is the essential aspect of the journey from a philistine who is indifferent to spiritual matters, to a saint who has achieved unity with the godhead . . .'
Lord Cricket paused for effect.
'In most occult schools it was usually assumed that kundalini can only rise upwards through the central channel. Nowhere in any openly available sources do we find any mention of the snake energy being able to move downwards. Nonetheless, it is possible for the energy to move in this manner.'
The following diagram was like the first, except that the vertical line continued below the seated man's crossed legs and three new cogwheels, all black, had appeared on it. There were no Sanskrit characters beside them - only numerals. The one closest to the man's body was marked '1', the next was marked '2', and the one furthest away was marked '3'.
'I'm not going to talk about how the kundalini can be made to move downwards. That requires a degree of initiation that no one present here today possesses . . .'
'Oh, Brian,' E Hu-Li interrupted, 'really, what are you saying. Tell them.'
'Anthy,' said Lord Cricket, 'everything that can be said, will be said. And so, as a result of a certain procedure, the kundalini surges down along the shadow projection of the central channel. When this occurs, it can halt at three points, which are mirror reflections of the three lower chakras - muladhara, swadhishtana and manipura.'
He drew his finger down through the three black cogwheels. I noticed number one had four petals, which made it look like the blades in a kitchen mincer. Number two had six petals, and it looked like a martial arts weapon for throwing. And number three consisted of two stars, one superimposed on the other, each with five projections, folded over slightly - ten petals in all.
'As I have already said, the movement of kundalini upwards along the central channel leads to unity with the godhead and likeness to god. It is logical to assume that the result of the snake force moving downwards must be the direct opposite. And at this point, I would like to draw your attention to a certain extremely interesting circumstance, of which I was reminded by our enchanting guest, when she spoke about the meaning of words in different languages . . .'
Lord Cricket bowed briefly in my direction and smiled. I smiled in reply and whispered to Alexander:
'Learn some manners, you oaf.'
'We heard about the Russian word "Bog" and its English equivalent "God". If you read "God" backwards, you get "Dog". You must understand that this coincidence is not simply an accident. It is possible to argue which came first - the language or the reality that it reflects. But that is merely the old chestnut about the chicken and the egg.'
The silhouettes of three animals appeared on the screen - a wolf, a dog and a fox.
'The word "werewolf" means a human being who can assume the form of a wolf, or perhaps some other animal. In Chinese, however, the corresponding term is associated more closely with foxes. But there is no fundamental contradiction in this - the fox, like the wolf, is a member of the class of canines. They are still "God" spelt backwards, still the same highly charged black mass, the same downwards shift of kundalini.'
'A highly charged black mass,' E Hu-Li repeated in a low voice, giving her husband a respectful look.
'The question that arises is how the kundalini travels once it leaves the body. After all, it can't actually move through empty space. And here we reach the most interesting part. Again, it is possible to argue at length about what is the cause and what is the effect, but the emergence of kundalini from the body is accompanied by a physical mutation. Something quite incredible takes place. Do you remember those films about volcanic eruptions? Sometimes there are scenes in them where you can see lava flowing down a slope and burning out a channel that was-n't there a moment earlier. The kundalini creates a physical channel for itself in exactly the same way. As soon as it moves below the muladhara - the lowest human chakra, located at the base of the spine - the were-creature starts to grow a tail!'
Two tails - a wolf's and a fox's - appeared on the screen. The fox's tail was drawn with absurd mistakes. The next slide showed the man in the lotus position again, but now he had a shaggy tail, with three black cogwheels on it.
'It is through the tail that the kundalini energy descends into the three lower infra-chakras. These centres do not have any Sanskrit names. They are conventionally referred to as "the position of the fox", "the position of the wolf" and "the abyss". The infra-chakra closest to the body is the position of the fox.'
He pointed to the black blades from the kitchen mincer, with the number '1' beside them.
'This is considered to be a point of stable equilibrium, where the energy can be located permanently, and so the were-creature can remain in the form of a fox for an unlimited period of time. However, you should not think that at this point transformation occurs into a fox that is the animal we know. The snake energy emerges only a short distance from the body, and therefore in physical terms the were-creature differs only in insignificant ways from a human being. It is simply a rather plain creature with a tail and a few changes in the shape of the ears . . .'
I almost snorted.
'In addition to that, the shape of the pupils is transformed and the superciliary arches become slightly more pronounced, but you would probably not be surprised to meet one of these creatures on the street . . .'
'Absolutely fantastic,' said E Hu-Li.
Lord Cricket pointed to the cogwheel located in the centre of the tail.
'The displacement of the kundalini to the second infra-chakra produces a far more spectacular effect. Here we are dealing with the absolutely classic case of a "werewolf". The were-creature is not simply transformed into a wolf. He is, so to speak, a wolf writ large. He is taller than a man and incredibly strong, with huge jaws full of teeth, but he walks on his hind legs like a man - although if he wants, he can run on all four legs. The descriptions in folklore are fairly accurate, since this has always been the most widespread form of were-creature in Europe. I shall only remark upon one curious detail. It is widely believed that transformation into a werewolf is associated with a specific phase of the moon or the onset of twilight. And in the folk imagination, it comes to an end with the dawn, since evil spirits cannot bear the sunlight. In actual fact, darkness and light have nothing to do with the matter. But another, correct, observation has been made: the transformation into a werewolf is short-lived, since the infra-chakra number two is a point of unstable equilibrium, where the kundalini cannot be located for a long period of time . . .'
'But what does that mean,' asked E Hu-Li, 'stable equilibrium, unstable equilibrium?'
Lord Cricket leaned down over his laptop.
'Just a moment,' he said, 'I have a slide on that subject here somewhere . . .'
An image of Stonehenge appeared on the screen, followed by an advertisement in various shades of green for a trailer home with a vase of narcissi pasted lovingly, but not very professionally in its window, and finally a black sine curve.
'There,' said Lord Cricket, 'please pardon the confusion.'
There was a blue ball lying in the hollow of the curve, and a red ball poised on its crest. The balls had little arrows of the same colours pointing away from them to indicate their direction of movement.
'It's very simple,' said Lord Cricket. 'Both balls are in a state of equilibrium, but if you move the blue ball, it will return to the point from which it started. That is stable equilibrium. However, if you move the red ball, it will not return to that point and will roll downwards. That is unstable equilibrium . . .'
'I have a question,' said Alexander. 'May I?'
'By all means.'
'Why is the first ball blue, and the second one red?'
'I beg your pardon?'
'And the arrows are the same colours. Why those two colours in particular?'
'But what difference does it make?'
'No difference at all,' said Alexander. 'I'm just curious. Perhaps you haven't heard, but in Russian the word for blue - "goluboi" - means "homosexual". I've been wondering for a long time about why the arrows on all the campaign maps are always blue and red. As if history consisted primarily of a struggle between the queers and the communists. I thought perhaps you might know?'
'No,' Lord Cricket replied politely, 'I don't know why precisely those two colours are used. May I continue?'
Alexander nodded. The tail with the black infra-chakras appeared on the screen again.
'As I have already said, the second position, at which the transformation into a wolf takes place, is unstable. If we superimpose the curve on the drawing, you can see that the neighbouring positions - numbers one and three - must be stable. Number one is the position of the fox, which we have already discussed. You probably have a question about position number three?'
'Yes,' said E Hu-Li. 'What is it, Brian?'
'I have already mentioned that the three infra-chakras of a were-creature are located symmetrically to the lower three chakras of a human being. The final infra-chakra, located at the very tip of the tail, is a mirror reflection of the Manipura, located between the navel and the heart. At this point the central channel is interrupted. The kundalini cannot move on to the upper chakras unless the region around the Manipura, known as the "ocean of illusions" is charged with the energy of a genuine spiritual mentor. According to the principle of Hermes Trismegistus, the same applies to the were-creature's infra-chakras. In order to move the kundalini to its lowest possible point, an involtation of darkness is required, the spiritual influence of a superior demonic entity that fills the so-called "desert of truth" - the rupture in the shadow central channel - with its vibrations . . .'
'And what exactly is a superior demonic entity?' I couldn't help asking.
Lord Cricket smiled.
'That depends on your personal contacts,' he said. 'The possibilities here are different for everyone . . . And so, we have come to the end of what I am permitted to tell you. I can only add one thing: position number three, the so-called abyss, is the point at which the transformation to the super-werewolf takes place.'
'And has anyone ever succeeded in completing that manoeuvre? ' I asked.
'According to certain sources, in 1925 one of your compatriots, the anthroposophist Sharikov, succeeded. He was a disciple of Dr Steiner, and a friend of Maximilian Voloshin and Andrei Bely. As far as we know, Sharikov was taken into the Cheka, and the whole business was kept top secret. And the secrecy was taken very seriously: suffice it to say that the manuscript of A Dog's Heart - a story by the well-known writer Bulgakov that was based on rumours about the event - was confiscated. After that no one ever saw Sharikov again.'
'But what exactly is a super-werewolf? Alexander asked.
'I don't know,' said Lord Cricket. 'At least, I don't know yet. But you have no idea how impatient I am to find out . . .'
'What are you doing wearing an evening dress first thing in the morning?' Alexander asked. 'And high heels?'
'Why, don't they suit me?'
'Black suits you very well,' he said, and cautiously rubbed his cheek against mine. 'But then, so does white.'
Instead of kissing we sometimes used to rub our cheeks together. I found this manner of his funny at first - there was something childish, puppyish about it. Then he confessed that he was sniffing my skin, which had an especially tender smell just behind my ear. After that, I used to experience a vague displeasure during this procedure - I had the feeling that I was being used.
'Are we going to the theatre?' he asked.
'Something a bit more interesting than that. We're going hunting. '
'Hunting. But who are we going to hunt?'
'Chickens,' I declared proudly.
'Are you feeling hungry?'
'That's not funny.'
'Then why do you want to go hunting chickens?'
'It's just that I want you to get to know me a little bit better. Get ready, we're going out of town.'
'Right now?'
'Yes,' I said, 'only first read this. Someone has a commercial proposition for you.'
I handed him a print-out of an e-mail letter I'd received from E Hu-Li that morning.
Hi there, Red,
I tried to reach you on the mobile, but the voice said that the 'number is temporarily blocked'. Looks like your sponsor in uniform isn't very generous . . .
Pursuant to our meeting (so charming!) of yesterday's date, it appears that when we left our boys alone after Brian's lecture and started reminiscing about old times, they had a quarrel about art. Let me tell you what happened. Brian showed Alexander photographs of some works that he is planning to exhibit jointly with the Saatchi gallery. First and foremost among them is the installation 'The Liberation of Babylon', which uses a model of the Gates of Ishtar as the background for Scottish bagpipers parachuting in with their kilts hiked up. These plaster figures convey their own state of sexual excitation to the viewer, attacking his perception and transforming him into another object put on display. In this way, the observer is made aware of his own physical and emotional presence in the space distorted by the gravity of that artistic object . . . Alexander liked 'The Liberation of Babylon', which cannot be said for all the other pieces.
Have you seen the hit of the last Venice Biennale - the haystack in which the first Belarussian postmodernist, Mikolai Klimaksovich, hid from his local police inspector for four years? Alexander called this work plagiaristic and told Brian about the similar haystack famously used before the revolution by Vladimir Lenin. Brian observed that repetition is not necessarily plagiarism, it is the very essence of the postmodern, or - to put it in broader terms - the foundation of the modern cultural gestalt, which is manifested in everything, from the cloning of sheep to remakes of old movies, for what else can you do after the end of history? Brian said it was precisely Klimaksovich's use of quotation that made him a postmodernist, not a plagiarizer. But Alexander objected that no quotations would ever have saved this Klimaksovich from the Russian police, and history might have come to an end in Belarus, but there was no sign of it breaking down yet in Russia.
Then Brian showed Alexander a work by Asuro Keshami, one which he regards with especial affection, not least owing to the serious investment required for its production and installation. Keshami's work, inspired by the oeuvre of Camille Paglia, of whom you must have heard, consists of an immense tube of red plastic with projections on the inside in the form of white fangs. It is proposed to install it in the open air in one of London's sports stadiums.
And now I'm getting to the point. One of the most serious problems in the world of modern art is the invention of original and fresh verbal interpretations of a work. Literally just a few phrases are required, which can then be reprinted in the catalogues and reviews. This apparently trivial detail can often decide the fate of a piece of art. It is very important here to be able to perceive things from an unexpected, shocking angle, and your friend, with his barbarically fresh view of the world, does this quite remarkably well. Therefore, Brian would like permission to use the ideas expressed by Alexander yesterday for the conceptual support of the installation. The accompanying text which I include below is by way of being a fusion of Brian's and Alexander's ideas:
Asuro Keshami's work 'VD-42CC' combines the languages of different areas - engineering, technology and science. At the base level the subject-matter is the overcoming of space: physical space, the space of taboo and the space of our subconscious fears. The languages of engineering and technology deal with the material from which the object is constructed, but the artist addresses the viewer in the language of emotions. When the viewer learns that certain people have given this little queer fifteen million pounds to stretch out a huge imitation-leather cunt above an abandoned soccer pitch, he remembers what he does in his own life and how much he is paid for it, then he looks at the photo of this little queer in his horn-rimmed spectacles and funny jacket, and experiences confusion and bewilderment bordering on the feeling that the German philosopher Martin Heidegger called 'abandonment' (Geworfenheit). The viewer is invited to concentrate on these feelings, which constitute the precise aesthetic effect that the installation attempts to achieve.
Brian would like to offer Alexander a fee of one thousand pounds. Of course, this is not a large sum, but this version of the accompanying text is not final, and it is not absolutely certain that it will be used. Have a word with Alexander, okay? You can reply directly to Brian at this address. I am a little miffed with him just at the moment. He is in a bad mood - last night he was refused entrance to the establishment known as 'Night Flight'. First he was stopped by the face control (they didn't like his sports shoes), and then some Dutch pimp emerged from the depths of this den of iniquity and told Brian to dress 'more stylish'. Brian has been repeating the same thing all day long today: 'Stylish? Like the one who went in just ahead of me? In a green jacket and blue shirt?' And he is taking out his bad mood on me. Ah well, never mind:-=)))
The most important thing is, don't forget about the pass for the Cathedral of Christ the Saviour!
Heads and tails,
Your E
Alexander read the print-out carefully. After that he folded the sheet of paper in two, then folded it in two again, and then tore it in half.
'A thousand pounds,' he said. 'Ha! He obviously doesn't understand who he's dealing with here. You know what, you write to him. Your English is better, anyway.'
'Thanks,' I said modestly. 'What shall I say? He didn't offer enough?'
He looked me up and down.
'Fuck him out of it from every possible angle. Only make it sound aristocratic and elegant.'
'That's not possible,' I said. 'No matter how much I'd like to.'
'In aristocratic circles they don't fuck each other out of it. It's just not done.'
'Then fuck him whatever way it is done,' he said. 'But hard enough to crack his arse open. Go on, put in that sarcasm of yours that has corroded my soul so thoroughly. Let it do some good for once.'
Something in his tone of voice prevented me from asking exactly what good he had in mind. He was touching in his childish resentment, and part of it was transmitted to me. And if we're being entirely honest - does a fox really need to be asked twice to fuck an English aristocrat out of it?
I sat down at the computer and started thinking. My internationalist feminist component required my reply to be structured round the phrase 'suck my dick', in the style of the most advanced US feminists. But the rational part of my ego told me that would not be enough in a letter signed by Alexander. I wrote the following:
Dear Lord Cricket,
Being extremely busy, I'm not sure that you can currently suck my dick. However, please feel encouraged to fantasize about such a development while sucking on a cucumber, a carrot, an eggplant or any other elongated roundish object you might find appropriate for that matter.
With kind regards,
Alexandre Fenrir-Gray
I deliberately put 'Alexandre', in the French manner, instead of 'Alexander'. I came up with the surname 'Fenrir-Gray' at the last moment, in a fit of inspiration. It definitely had an aristocratic ring to it. Of course, it immediately brought to mind 'Earl Grey' tea, and that gave the signature a faint aroma of bergamot oil, but the name was only a one-off anyway.
'Well?' he asked.
I read the text in Russian.
'Can we do without the "kind regards"?'
'Then it won't be aristocratic.'
'Oh, all right,' he sighed. 'Send it off . . . and then come over here, the Grey Wolf has a proposal for Little Red Riding Hood.'
'What would that be?'
'We're going to have, you know . . . A colloquium on the psychoanalysis of Russian folktales. We're going to throw pies into Little Red Riding Hood's basket. Unfortunately, we only have one pie today. So we'll have to throw it into the basket over and over again.'
'Phoo, how vulgar . . .'
'Are you going to come here or do I have to come and get you?'