Tuesday 10 March
Incredible lunch for just five shillings fifty at the unbeatable Briton’s Protectorate. On leave from the warehouse, and with no afternoon’s travail to trail back to, it is a delight to see Dempson and Growler struggling to unseat themselves from the fireside following game and pheasant pie washed down with ale the colour of exotic dishwater. Had the sun not been out I may be there still but after my second pint, and having completed the synopsis for my breakthrough novel, Breakthrough, I haul my slovenly bones down to the Museum of Science and Industry for examination and possible extra-existential donation. It is to the memory of my Great Uncle Trafford that I dedicate this particular visit. As a little bratwurst I would yawn and ball as he took Barton and I around these very exhibits, explaining the inner doings of mysterious machines without which ‘we wouldn’t be here today’ (‘But I don’t wanna be here today!’ would come the wailing riposte). I see now how strong the temptation must have been for Trafford to place me inside the Toddlermatic, a fearsome, piston-heavy beast – banned only last year – which, powered by the vanishing souls of slum-dwelling infants, created perfect ice cubes for various sporting regattas down south.
Alone with sentimental memories in the transport hall it is a shock to see Bateman polishing what appears at first to be a giant silver cigar, dressed top to tail in leathers, from shining knee-length boots to peek-a-boo eye-mask (this is a flying machine, he explains, and pork pies are rumoured to explode at high altitude). Yearning for a return to the East and some sort of recreation (if such a thing were possible) of our endurance-themed holiday last year, the ‘man has decided to save on steam train fare and propel himself thataways by means of this elastic-powered airship. While it will be a stretch for Larry, DH or myself to find the time or money to join this foolhardy mission we would certainly be happy to twang our friend across the sea, I reassure the begoggled adventurer. We shall have to see who snaps first.