Thursday 26 June
My persistent cough, useful only when hinting for another of DH’s cigarillos, can be traced to this very evening in Manchester. And you have no doubt noted, from the gravelly intonation of my voice, that with a reckless disregard for context I use ‘very’ here as an adverb. And why not, on a night when superlatives, like bullets, are only narrowly avoided? Verily I sat, noting very suspicious activity throughout the very crowded, very dingy student pub, having limped from footerball where the monsoon conditions had only added to a veritable sense of foreboding.
Yet all had started calmly enough. With Bateman signing up for the game I saw at last a chance to quiz him on his connection to the crime, a last chance for my friend to explain himself and his mania for mixing fluids. But it seems these days my guest toilet serves only for the taking of the you-know-what. If it isn’t Makepeace’s leg trailing from its half-open doorway, subtly signaling the end of a session, it’s chaps like Hogarth - round to borrow some kit - taking a damned eternity, either having a full body shave or chasing the dragon in there (I’d ask which but he’s Daisy’s housemate and I’ve no desire to know if she’s taken a liking to either). Whatever the cause of the delay, Bateman is already en route to the field of dreams by the time Hogarth and I leave the flat.
The footerball is refreshing enough, our discomfort resuming only as we change back into clothes already heavy with liquid summer. And still the rain comes, lightening hurrying us into the Flashman & Firkin where a troupe of actors from the University’s drama department act out the Spain versus Russia semi-final based on action relayed to them ‘live’ by fleets of highly-trained sports pigeon. While I feel some sympathy for Glasto and Nurave, up on stage dodging tapas and blini, my attention must be channeled towards Shifty and Scarface, spotted at the bar drinking gin with cider chasers. When Bateman joins them I have no option but to stride over and confront them, demanding to know how they’ve the gall to corrupt one so inherently corruptible. As usual I am asked to keep my nose clean, Shifty dryly suggesting that I keep an eye on my own affairs. Turning, I see for once he might be right. Dave Gorman and his Russian friends are leaning over my pint pot, somewhat suspiciously. Gaping grins are proffered as I return – despite Spain’s now inevitable triumph – the caretaker fully aware that I consider it ungentlemanly ever to leave as much as a drop in a tankard with my name on it. Poisoned? Why? More pelvic cough balm Miss Jordan, and sharpish!