Day 68

5.02: I have visited the market town of Lewes in East Sussex – the County Town and historical bridging point for the river Ouse. It’s a picturesque little spot, snuggled into a cleft in the South Downs, and, like all such places in the English countryside, brim full with folk whose armpits sweat an unstauchable stream of cash, and nostrils sneeze pound coins.

Last week, one of its burghers became the first winner of the “More Money Than Midas; Less Irony Than Ivanna Trump Award” (as nominated by me), when he paid £86,000 for a first edition of Down And Out in Paris and London.

Everyone see what’s going on there? Good.

Let’s play the fun game of lining up a few choice passages from Down and Out against, some shit Gorringes book specialist Aaron Dean, who handled the auction, said about the sale.

According to Aaron Dean: I knew it would do well, I had a lot people who were hugely interested in it and the consensus was that it would reach somewhere between £30,000 and £40,000.

But I wasn’t expecting that price. I was absolutely stunned, the room was absolutely stunned and the vendors, who were in the room, were thoroughly happy.

Lovely. Perhaps they all went home to read to each other from the volume over a fondue of black gold and Swan’s heart. They might have recounted the tale of Charlie who, after raping a prostitute, says:

I was left cold and languid, full of vain regrets; in my revulsion I even felt a kind
of pity for the weeping girl on the floor. Is it not nauseous, that we  should be the prey of such mean emotions? I did not look at the girl again; my sole thought was to get away. I hastened up the steps of the vault and  out into the street. It was dark and bitterly cold, the streets were empty,  the stones echoed under my heels with a hollow, lonely ring. All my money was gone, I had not even the price of a taxi fare. I walked back alone to my cold, solitary room.

I’ve read Down and Out a couple of times, but I don’t know the text that well. I picked that bit out almost at random. But if I can dip into it like a black gold and swan’s heart fondue, so can Mr Anonymous 86-grand-a-pop book buyer. So let’s hope he does. Everyone check the Paris slums this summer for a tramp in wing-tipped brogues.

5.33: I had resolved to do less ranting here on matters of which I know next to nothing, but the sixth member of the government’s advisory committee on the misuse of drugs has quit over being expected to sign a clause promising not to “undermine mutual trust” between ministers and advisors. The government might just as well convene a new committee of a kitchen kettle, magic eight ball, and retired fax machine. Fawning golden idiot C3-P0 could hold the chair.

6.55: Not a great lot of writing done this morning, and a good deal of time given to searching for images of close-range gunshot wounds to the head. The internet’s surprisingly prudish about such matters. Invitations to meet teenage girls in and out of bikinis and made-up facts about Chuck Norris abound, but it’s a very scant resource for getting an idea of what a face blown apart by an ancient pistol looks like. Suggestions from perverts who know where to indulge this type of bent will be gratefully received.

~ by David Thorley on March 29, 2010.

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