So, you want to know about my incredible invention and how it affects every Jewish person on the planet, yes? Very well. But where to begin?I’m drawn to Poland in the early 1960s. You might not think it would be a hip and happening place – certainly nowhere near, say, London – but there were places you could go and things you could do that put London in the shade. In a sense, almost quite literally so, since it was just outside Warsaw that saw Europe’s largest solar array built, a vast collecting dish lined with early photovoltaic cells. They weren’t much like the things you see these days, though. You have to remember that this was during Poland’s decade of experimenting with genetic manipulation, before the animal rights people came in and freed the cooking, twitching silverfish from their power parabola prison.
I dated an animal rights activist for a while but we all do crazy things when we’re out of our faces on glue. No horses were harmed in the formation of that glue. The same can’t be said for my short run as head of innovations for the world famous Ragtag Circus during the summer of 1971, touring South America. I was convinced that a 21-horse pyramid was possible but, well, maybe we’ll never know for sure what caused the collapse. My dear friend Monsieur Bolobo the clown claimed a painted zebra had infiltrated our number on the night of the spectacle, its weaker back giving way under the weight, but this was his stock excuse for every failing. Made for an amusing divorce hearing from his wife.
Someone else who divorced his wife was Ignatius Lemming. Now, it’s a strange name but I’d be surprised if you’d heard it before since he went out of his way to hide it from the public, adopting noms-de-plume in much the same fashion that celebrities adopt children and charities. Among his many aliases for a while he was Charles Ford, tobacco importer; then he was Jermaine Montezuma, backing singer for the soul group The Five Spaniards; I remember a wild fortnight when he had clicks in his name because he’d seen some television documentary about a native tribe somewhere. This was right around the dolphin uprising at Chicago Zoo. And now you know why.
The Five Spaniards wasn’t a real group, unlike The Six Senoritas, although funk and soul weren’t their specialities; they preferred rumbles and robberies. They were rough, they were tough, and they were buff, but you accused them of being anything other than straight, angry women at your peril. I first encountered them as they broke into the bank I was in the process of stealing. There was a time when you could reason with people like that – “I’ve raised it up on wheels! I was clearly here first and about to make off with it!” – but this took place a couple of days after the great criminal honour truce ran out and, ultimately, it was six against one. Besides, I was always a gentleman first and a thief second.I needed a second when I was challenged to a duel by Lord March (a misunderstanding over the rights – or, rather, lack thereof – of commoners to swear at swans at Goodwood House). His Lordship and I had both been drinking at the time and it seemed like a good way to resolve our avian differences of opinion but when the time came I, at least, had sobered up enough to realise that cricket bats were, if not dangerous, at least unbecoming for such an occasion. I asked my second – a tramp I had befriended by the name of Wallace – to attempt to persuade my upper class adversary to call off the fight but Lord March would have none of it. Another thing he would have none of was caviar.
I don’t like caviar either. Never have. I don’t like the texture in my mouth and it’s far too salty for my taste, although if you know a woman who likes caviar then you can make a couple of other assumptions about things she’ll like too. Balls, is one. And the tiaras you wear to them, naturally. My partner and I manufactured top-end tiaras in the mid-seventies. It was a brief flirtation with the business as a result of some rather unwanted and swift attention from the local headwear mafia.
On a cold morning in May we found ourselves face-to-face with rather burly and rather angry henchmen with just one thing on their collective minds: pummelling. Fortunately, the collective minds of headwear mafia henchmen amounts to very little grey matter and I was able to spin them a long tale that went off at tangents in such a way as to confuse them as to the reason they were there in the first place. Rest assured: that story finished most unsatisfyingly too.