Blackwood's Edinburgh Magazine, Books, Credit Crunch, Drink, Financial Meltdown, Humor, Love, Man-in-the-moon., Melancholy., Meteorite, Moon, Moon landings, Salman Rushdie, Sex, Sheep, Sheep-shagger, Whisky, Zadie Smith
Last month you solicited any articles or book reviews for your website which I could spare the time to write, although up here I am rarely abreast of the excitements and controversies raging within contemporary letters. You sent several modern books for me to review, but I have still not finished reading the first one on the pile – something rather long by Zadie Smith, which would make an adequate screenplay for television I dare say, but hardly a novel. Novels by writers such as Salman Rushdie and Zadie Smith are technically flawless but also oddly unreadable. Within all their pastiche and their carefully-prepared ambiguities and their terrible, terrible self-consciousness one beholds great literary energies and traditions applied practically, leaving one with apparently big novels which are actually small, efficient literary products. One expects great theatre from these novels, and one is surprised to feel nothing.
I tried to write an article for you this morning – some remarks upon the correct response of the atheist to the present financial meltdown – but I have encountered little of the credit crunch up here, and everything which I wrote sounded bright and perky and rather inconsequential. At lunchtime, I abandoned my computer and tried to cook some duck, but once again, as with many of my meals, all of the taste was boiled out of the food, leaving a stringy pulp. One cannot rely upon Delia Smith, as her recipes fail to take account of the reduced gravity up here. I wanted to watch BBC news whilst I was eating, but once again, the signal was very faint and I could only get a picture by leaning out of the window with the aerial.
Over lunch, the whisky fell several inches in the bottle and this took the sharpness off the melancholy which had been edging, like a shadow, across my soul. The fight taken out of my despair, I called the dog and we padded over to throw some meal to the sheep. We passed the crater where it is said that the Apollo moon landings were filmed, although I personally suspect that they were shot in the Nevada desert. I have never come across any footprints – or that famous flag – although I cannot say that I have thoroughly searched for them. Like everybody else, I watched the moon landings on television. For a time in the seventies, I was worried that the Americans would turn up at the moon and try and swindle me out of my land, like they did with those unfortunate Indians. Mercifully, however, they have given me no trouble.
I fed the sheep and set off for home. I decided to take the long way around, past the tip. I wanted some more whisky, but the demand was rather aimless as I knew that the whisky could not help any more and that it would just inflame my melancholy. I suddenly, luckily, looked up as a meteorite ran across the bowl of the heavens, as neatly as a zip, as fantastic and audacious as a note on a kazoo. Amazed, I watched this bead of light soar furiously into a low corner of the sky.
It was an occasion when one wants to take the hand of a lover, and nuzzle against them, and share the moment. It seemed too special to be given to one man alone. My loneliness and pain suddenly shot up like a great fire, and the whisky was now hopeless – mere ineffective splashes against the blaze.
I felt raw and absurdly serious, I needed love, and, with desire pushing at my mind, as repetitively and as impossible to ignore as the rhythm of a stuck record, I marched back to the sheep pen. The dog did not follow and he watched indifferently from the path. I chose a handsome-looking sheep and seized it by the neck, forcing it back…
I was making love to the sheep, into its hot, tight insides, beating like a moth towards the white light of the frantic little evacuation, the crisis. I was turned on by the possibility that a NASA research facility full of technicians may be watching my buttocks through a gigantic telescope, my thrusts appearing on a vast screen below a room of appalled and panicking scientists.
When I finished I felt rather absurd. I wanted to wipe my penis upon something, but the only material to hand was my jacket, which it seemed rather uncivilised to use. I still have some principles up here on the moon. I gingerly zipped up my penis, hoping that I would remember to wash it later. The dog waited patiently in the path ahead. I walked around the long side of the moon and when I arrived back at my house, I had quite forgotten about the sheep. I felt too tired to get drunk again and the sight of the whisky left me cold. I could not get a signal on the television and so I just lay on the sofa and listened to it hissing.
The Man in the Moon.