Traduction & Translation


Will Self


For Nick Mercer

D’ailleurs, c’est toujours les autres qui meurent.
— Marcel Duchamp

candle to light you to — Kerr-wangg! Here comes a chopper-Kerrwangggungggunggg! Lesley, Busner thinks, bloody Lesley playing the Kid’s guitar, ‘though there ought to be another expression, playing being what Gould does with a Steinway or du Pré with a cell — owowwow-owww! the clawed chord howls in the hallway and tears up the stairs. It’s not playing, Busner decides, it’s mucking about — that’s what he’s doing: mucking about with his mucky hands… one of which throttles the guitar’s neck, twisting its steely cords so that they yow-ow-owl. This too Busner suffers, as he also endures the cracklefizzz-tap! — tap! — whine of the flat body… Demoiselle de Willesden… being laid down on the bare boards of the downstairs back room the Kid and Lesley share… not an ideal arrangement, that. Mercifully, Lesley’s roll-up-stained fingers… twiddle the knurled knob of the little Marshall amplifier so the static genie flees… I no longer dream of her. Busner cocks an ear for a while longer — expecting to hear the pet sounds of Oscar, the House dog, who often responds to guitar feedback with his own — but there’s nothing. The lucky beast, Busner thinks, must’ve managed to doze through it… And so he resumes his ’umble task… He looks to the claw-footed bathtub, the chipped enamel sides and sea-weedy stains trailing below the taps suggesting to him… a tramp steamer turned inside out — his wrinkled fingertips… flatibuts but recently trawled from it, pinch the dimpled handle of the safety razor and twist… and twist… but it resists… until he receives the support of… heavy bombers, massive artillery, a superb logistics system, nearly a thousand helicopters and about ten thousand men… — His capacity for recall, Busner believes, has greatly improved since he stopped taking notes during analytic sessions, allowing them instead to develop as they will, freeform, without the imposition of those prejudicial categories implicit in the Logos… bearing down on all these… wriggling little thoughtfish. And yet… and yet, he muses, can it really be that they call it a fish-hook? Yes!… a fish-hook salient of Cambodia some twenty miles long and ten miles deep… the exact wording returns to him and he sighs, satisfied, as he separates the two halves of the razor’s head and eases out the old blade. — You’re more likely to cut yourself doing this… he thinks, as he bends to fiddle a bit of toilet paper from the wonky roller… than shaving. Then he wraps the blade up carefully before, without looking, dropping it into the waste-paper basket underneath the sink. Some slight irregularity in a sound that would anyway be… slight pulls him up, and Busner squats to ogle the raffia cylinder: it’s full to overflowing with twisted brown-paper bags, some of which are red-blotchy. So, he thinks, they’ve all come on at once, once again, and the cycle has been completed. — He wonders why it is that, although the women all sleep next door, they come tramping up here to change their tampons and sanitary towels — especially since this means they will, at a vulnerable moment, be in close proximity to the Creep… Then he sighs and, straightening up, eases into another speculation: Hopefully, this’ll mean the tension that dominated Friday’s house meeting will now be dissipated -. No, tension — whether premenstrual or otherwise — doesn’t capture it: this was… frenzy Van-der-Graaff crackling from Irene to Eileen to Maggie to Podge. Saturday saw them all sulking in their separate corners — but then Sunday was, of course… bloody. Now, at the start of another week, Busner finds himself futilely yearning for all that electricity to have been earthed by the bedrock of reasonableness. Addressing his own worried face in the mirror, he says aloud, We’re doin’ just great here! in what he imagines is a convincing impersonation of General Shoemaker — then, feeling he hasn’t quite got the twang right, he says again, We’re doin’ just grrreat here! while by way of confirming this greatness he presses on with the job to hand: searching out the little box of razor blades on the wonky, cluttered, dried-toothpaste-blobbed shelf beneath the mirrored cabinet, easing out a fresh one, carefully unwrapping its tissue shroud. As he undertakes these manœuvres, Busner’s penis wheedles its way from the towel inefficiently knotted about his hips to nuzzle against the cold sink. He turns on the tap and twirls his shaving brush on a circumcised stub of shaving soap… He knows the temperament of women, and wipes the suds around his face. A Bakerloo Line train comes clacketing along the embanked track at the end of the back garden, and, even as Busner makes the first judicious stroke, he feels the house rocking on its foundations, pulling and pushing the adjoining properties as the entire one-hundred-and-fifty-yard-long terrace sways and crashes… to nowhere… Orbicularis oris, buccinator, depressed labii inferioris… Anatomising his own face into naked being, he remembers: What a duffer I was at dissection! — The long, enamel-topped oak bench under cold northern heavens, Nat-urrral light, gentlemen, said Roberts, with a vicious rolling of his r’s, Nat-urrral light, gentlemen — and lady… Always there was this grudging admission of Isobel McKechnie’s presence on his second pass… because what-everrrr your queasy little tum-tums’re telling ye, this is a prrrro-foundly nat-urrral prrrocedure! Every tutorial, Busner thinks, had begun with this admonition — rote learning resulting from a lifetime of rote teaching. He had no doubt that Roberts was still there, still pacing the worn boards between the benches, still imposing himself between the shaking, white-coated shoulders of first years, and leaning down to point out this or that feature of the human carcasses their scalpels were inefficiently reducing to… trayf. What was it Marinetti had demanded for his heroic Fascist dinner? Raw meat torn by trumpet blasts… What was it Roberts had trumpeted every bloody time: Busss-nerrr, Busss-nerrr, rrrreally, man, ye’ll neverrr get inside the head that way — will ye look at the god-awful bloody mess you’re making! Yes, the god-awful mess — the indignity heaped after death on the corpse that had been lofted over the battlements of Craig House, or perhaps brought by motorised tumbrel from Carstairs, either way: the remains of a mental or criminal defective, of no account, a burden on the ratepayers, whose only utility lay in his or her limbs being disarticulated and severed, the head sawn off then thrust… in my face by the bloody Burke! Here comes a chopper to chop off your head! He smiles, then frowns, at his own corrugator supercilii in the listing mirror with its blush of condensation. — He dares to see himself, for a moment, as Roberts must have done: a grinningly inefficient predator with an undershot jaw who swims round annaround in a sea of body parts. — The carefree automatism of shaving is over, the tube train has passed and stands loitering by the platform at Dollis Hill, waiting to suck in through its rubber-lipped doors a few stragglers, who, rather than joining the throng on the other platform heading city-wards, are commuting in reverse to Wembley, Harrow and points still further out.