Thursday, February 25, 2010
Will Self - a condom slug and a disturbing dildo
Novelist Will Self - who complicates the simplest thoughts with big or obscure words * - writes an entertainingly discursive diary for the London Review of Books (Feb 25 edition). In an appreciation of Melvyn Bragg's In Our Time on Radio 4, he sidetracks to his walk across London's Clapham Common with his doggy, Maglorian. And what an event it turns out to be.
He notes of the south side of the common: "The area around here is a notorious cruising ground for men in search of casual homosexual encounters, and often when I walk through it in the mornings I will spot a used condom, as if it were some strange kind of latex airborne slug that, having leaped for the skies, has ended up dangling from the brambles." This is a very fine, well described image, and we should be grateful to the cruisers for inspiring Will's natural outburst of creativity, certain to be recycled in one of his novels. A family picnic, with a plaid tablecloth spread of chicken sandwiches and Thermos tea, would perhaps not stir his imagination.
Further along in his peregrination he freezes at the sight of a 10"-long dildo on the path. It's "made of red, slightly translucent plastic, and fashioned artfully in the manner of an engorged penis, right down to its exposed dome and network of veins." He is distrubed by the "juxtaposition between the mechanical and the faked organic." Civic mindedly, he picks it up with the intention of bin disposal, but Maglorian mistakes the dildo for a play stick and begins "yapping frantically". Odd to handle it: I'd wonder where it's been.
Once again I found myself grateful to the shadowy al fresco nymphs and satyrs who gambol about our city parks at night: they can never know of their contribution to literature.
* Some big or obscure words from Will's piece for you to look up