Monday, 9 April 2012

Urbane fantasy

"April hath put a spirit of youth in everything," and to mark the rebirth of the year, you can pick up a free Kindle copy of A Minotaur at the Savoy (US edition here) all this week. Yep, right up until Friday 13th. Good thing I'm not superstitious.

This little volume, as regular readers will know, is a tie-in with the world of the Mirabilis graphic novel, fleshing out the background by means of fifty Dunsany-ish tall tales woven around the postbag of the Royal Mythological Society. For example:
Dear Prof Bromfield and Dr Clattercut

Recently I was taken by a friend to a restaurant in Fitzrovia. As we were settling down over whisky and cigars after the meal, I glanced at the menu and noticed that the à la carte listed
Dodo Véronique. Intrigued as I was, I had by this time already put away a dozen oysters, the onion soup, a smoked haddock dish, two helpings of beef wellington, a lemon soufflé, a plate of almond biscuits, a bottle or two of Chateau Yquem and three large brandies. Also, I’d had a bit of a gyppy tummy earlier in the week, so at that stage I really didn’t feel up to fitting anything else in. I now rather wish I had, as I went for a bit of a walk to see if I could find the place again and there’s no sign of the street. I remember it had a little blue sconce of flame over the door, and a sort of curtain of ivory beads to keep the fog out. My friend has gone on a trip to Venezuela so no use asking him.

Sincerely, Edward Plunkett, The Attican Club, Pall Mall

Dr Clattercut replies: O rara avis in terris!

Prof Bromfield: Latin? You’ll have lost most of our readers right there, old man.

Dr Clattercut: I merely remarked on the pang of missed opportunity. Who knows how long before Mr Plunkett will again find himself in a restaurant with dodo on the menu?

Prof Bromfield: I doubt if there’s honestly any cause for regret. From what I hear, dodo is a tough, gamey sort of fowl. No use cooking it like chicken. Dodo meat is more like what you’d get on a year-old pheasant: tough if served pink, and dry if overcooked. Much more sensible to put it in a curry or a spicy Mexican dish. A Véronique sauce would be all wrong. There’s your explanation, Mr Plunkett – you can’t find the restaurant because it’s gone out of business.

Dr Clattercut: Perhaps the words of another rare bird, the Swan of Avon, will offer some consolation: “Things sweet to taste prove in digestion sour.”

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