The Life of Henry Fuckit
37 Dear Kaye
Thank you for your letter, which I received in the middle of the week. It's Saturday morning and I am in the lounge of the St James Hotel. The weather is wintry - a cold wind blowing gusts of almost horizontal rain - so I'm grateful for the fire that's been lit in the grate. I have the room to myself except for one old toppie reading a week-old Daily Telegraph. I have just ordered a second glass of stout and am feeling reasonably content.
It seems you are well on the way to recovery after your disastrous affair with that elderly horse doctor from Groote Schuur. I only hope you've learnt your lesson and will be more discerning in future. I've heard some pretty alarming stories about the profligate lack of restraint common amongst Israeli men, and trust you are taking precautions against being drawn into situations fraught with danger and depravity. Not that it's any business of mine. As agreed, our friendship can only ever be platonic.
As for the Bedford Street rabble I don't have much to report. The last I heard from Ivor, about three weeks ago, he appeared to have stepped back from the threshold. He says he enjoys the physical rigours of farm life and has no time to read nihilistic literature and philosophy any more, let alone sit around drinking, smoking and contemplating the futility of life. Reading between the lines I picked up an accusatory undertone, a hint of recrimination. I have no fresh news of Joe and am unable to confirm or deny the rumour that he has become a follower of Sun Myung Moon. When I saw Steve a week ago he looked tired and despondent. He declared himself 'milked dry' and now quite impotent. Mike has retired from the game of rugby and only plays golf. To everyone's surprise he is still in the house at Dean Street and Guinevere says she caught him, not long ago, trying to read Sartre's Being and Nothingness. So what's going on in that tiny brain I can't imagine.
My own frame of mind, in my opinion, is remarkably sound just of late. You will be staggered to hear that I have taken a job as an Assistant Storeman in the naval dockyard at Simonstown and have now been hard at work for a week. The work is demanding and the terms of employment rigid - I slave from 7.30 in the morning till 4.30 in the afternoon - but the environment is congenial and my colleagues comprise an interesting cross-section of humanity. Once I have settled in I might risk boring you with some details describing just what it is that I do to earn a living. But in the meantime I would rather discuss other matters concerning myself.
You might remember that in the last eighteen months first my Uncle Fritz and then my Aunt Lydia were struck down with the ultimate ailment. One cruel blow followed another. For more than six months I have heard nothing from my remaining uncles, despite repeated attempts on my part to contact them. I can only imagine they have packed up and returned to England, and will communicate in due course. This has left me naked and bereft, without a soul in the whole of Africa to turn to. In the past months my sense of loneliness has been acute and I descended into a slushy state of self-pity. Then the fire and its consequences also added to my isolation and I lapsed into such a slough of despond that my physical health was in danger of breaking down. I became careless of my personal hygiene, I was apathetic and listless, and I drank heavily. It's hard to explain just what prompted me to rouse myself and apply for this job - it must have been some kind of instinctive urge to survive, a self-preservation reflex that was switched on when I reached a certain depth. At any rate, something caused me to get up off my back, and I am once again strutting about, full of bravado and defiance, acting as if I am fully in control of my own destiny.
This renewed enthusiasm for life has resulted in a burst of activity. I have cleaned up my room and decorated and finished it simply in a manner matching my lifestyle. This afternoon, if the rain lets up, I intend climbing the mountainside behind Kalk Bay in search of a secluded kloof with difficult access where I might begin cultivating my favourite medicinal herb. And tomorrow I am going through to Dean Street to toast a batch of muesli. I have promised not to set the house on fire - ha ha. I have been to the library, Thursday evening, in fact, and have discovered Jorge Luis Borges, a South American writer with a most surprising creative agility - I can heartily recommend, if you don't know him already. And I have resolved to start keeping a diary, which must mean I value my own opinion - enough to put it down on paper and then sit admiring it. So you see, my wayward star is in the ascendant just now and I feel obliged to follow it whilst it continues to shine. What other course is there? You know my fatalism and my lack of ambition. Born a dabbler I must continue to dabble for dabbling's sake - as long as I find life interesting and amusing.
I see the rain has stopped and the sun is coming out. I shall post this letter and then head up the mountain while the weather permits. Kaye, I hope you continue to fare well on your chosen course and look forward to hearing from you again. And please heed my warning - the Zionist schlong will seize the slightest opportunity.
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