Oratorio by Haydn; concert performances by solo singers, English Baroque Soloists, and Monteverdi Choir, directed by John Eliot Gardiner, 1993.
One hundred and one consecutive 13-letter anagrams—liberally punctuated—followed by an “interpretation”, one of an unlimited (though not infinite) number of possible parallel texts. The ‘oe’ component of Schoepfung in German can be represented (and more often is, even in transliteration) by ‘ö’; I chose the extra ‘e’, a legitimate alternative and an invaluable aid for the anagrams.
* * *
NICE FUDGE SHOP
Fed such pigeon pie, Ogden Fuchs is God. Fee: punch Spence, hug Fido. Feed, cough, spin, gosh, epic fun! Eden!
“Fish?” God, puce. Deuce fish pong. Cede fungi:
“Shop! Cèpe ’n fish, Doug?”
“Deign chef soup, cop. Feud hinges on chef’s pud.”
“E.g.?”, I chide fop.
Phön (sic) pings… Echo—
“Sponge feud?” (hic)
Gnu, fed ice, hops: hops fence I dug. Feed no such pig, singe chop…
Poe chides gnu , ff—deep sonic hug: “Puce hog! Fiends, go dupe finches! Défi, gnu, Cheops she, Punic; God, fend foe!…”
Push ff: EP disc enough. Edison Pugh (F.E.C.), he confused pig Ché, duping foes of Pugh.
“I’d fused EC, hoping ECU-fed gin-shop feeds Nip.” Hugo, couch-ped, feigns Defoe’s pug chin.
“Nigh, pseud of EC, heinous ped.” (C.F.G. Dough-Penis.)
“O.g. punished F.E.C.!”
“If Des used chief pong – ”
“Fie, Pugh. Second cup?”
“God—Shep ? Fido? Pug? Hence – ”
sfp—gun echo dies—fp—neigh “Escudo inched – ”. Pogues ff, Oedipus Cheng―Chop sui, Deng?” F.E.C. Sing: hope. Feud. Phonic feed, Gus, Penge disco huff—sing of ‘id’ cheep, pinch Doge, fuse fen-guides chop-chop.
Genius? Fed fig (sound ‘cheep’), hose fecund pig (sheep ‘C’ fungoid)—feed, sing (p) “OUCH”, feed, pouch gins, cop funghi seed. Enoch’s pig feud:
“Ed, feign hocus-pocus.”
Fend GI’s fecund hope, i/c gun shop, feed Phensic fog.
* * *
“Due cups of…”, neighed Denis—fug epoch, defug psico hen, hung pieces of D-code, pushing… Fed fish, e.g. (pun) Eco: “Cosi?—fun??” Hedge (p):
“F —dosh, Nige?”—puce.
“Dough, if pence. Spend! Hug foe!” (sic).
“Fog hendicep us.”
Sheen CID up:
“Heed fog, PC! In US find house, PC, e.g. chop fig (US Eden).”
Need gush of Picoic? … Sheep dung?
ff—CUPID’S GONE, HE – Eden (cough): “Is ‘p’ ‘f’?
[– Enough ‘pf’—Ed.] (sic)
‘CHOPIN’S ‘FUGE’ – (Ed.: ??!?) – IN G’. Fop ‘Ché’ ’s due:
PS Hugo—feed Nic
* * *
Having eaten one of the best game pies of his life, Ogden Fuchs feels great. But there’s a price to pay: he has to hit the owner (Doug Spence) and embrace his dog. You eat, you belch, your head goes round a bit—that’s living all right, that’s paradise.
“You want some fish now?” calls Doug, holding out the olive branch so to speak. Ogden pales and implores heaven. There’s a desperate stench of old fish hanging in the air. But perhaps he could take it, if accompanied by mushrooms—wild mushrooms. With an attempt at jauntiness he cries,
“You in there! What about turbot aux morilles?”
“If I were you I’d go for the consommé, squire. Bear in mind though—it’s the dessert which’s really putting the cat amongst the pigeons…”
“Miaaow exactly?” Ogden jokes, so badly he hopes as subtly to deflate the fey maître d’.
“We’re talking butterscotch.”
Doug’s Swiss-made telephone gives an icepick blast. As the sound rings around the room, Ogden thinks he hears a ghostly voice repeating “trouble… trouble…”
“Trifle trouble?” he burps, and lapses into memories of a wildebeest he’d known. As a child, he’d fed it snow, and it had leapt in alarm, right across the palisaded moat he’d been excavating. Better not, he’d realised, give just any food to creatures who’ll eat anything: better to burn their whiskers.
‘Trouble…’—does Ogden really hear this? Lost as he now is in deep reverie, hearing rather the voice of his beloved Edgar Allan as if reprimanding the wildebeest in in a voice stentorian and yet somehow embracing the poor animal in a warm flood of sound:
‘Sickly brown thou gorgest piglike,
(Devils! Fly and fool the birds!)
Brazen bold confront Queen Pharaoh,
Antelope, Hannibal in herds:
Gnu divine, cleave enemies of thine…’
Truly, the stuff of legend.
In another part of town, Edison Pugh (known to his friends as ‘F.E.C.’, excuse me, ‘fucking erudite cunt’), he who led ‘that bastard Guevara’ into the final Bolivian trap, thus thoroughly throwing his own enemies off the scent—Edison is entertaining. A couple of tracks from Haydn’s Creation, in German, played at full volume on his anachronistic stereo is sufficient for everybody, but conversation soon flows again, viz.:
“I managed to stymie that Euro-directive,” says Hugo, “I reckoned the distilled juniper subsidy would keep the Japs happy.” Hugo’s a closet boy-fancier with a receding profile reminiscent of Robinson Crusoe, or so he‘d like to believe.
“Not even close, you and your imaginary Puero-directives, you great horrible poof”, laughs Charles Fauntleroy Greatorex Dough-Penis.
“Sounds ideal material for a Future England Captain, Edison, no?”
“Hoist by his own pet ’ard-on, rather.”
“Oh, really, you old faggot!”
“No, honestly, imagine if young Desmond here had applied a touch of Calvin Klein pur Homme…”
“Shame on you, Edison. More wine?”
“What exactly would you say is the UN’s role with regard to children?” This is Hugo, trying in his inept way to get back into the conversation.
“Christ, what a question. Round them up like a sheepdog? Comfort them like a lapdog? Defend them like a bulldog? Hang on, maybe there‘s something in this. What if – ”
There’s a sudden loud explosion of gunfire, which dies away as rapidly. Hugo whinnies like a horse and stammers feebly “I was worried about Portugal‘s progress in the ERM.” Somehow ‘Dirty Old Town’ is playing loudly on the revived stereo, as a blind Chinese incestuous parricide bursts noisily in with a steaming plateful he claims is for his aged president, the Mike Atherton of the Far East. Edison gestures to everybody to start singing, to raise morale. But it’s more trouble, an earful of cacophony reminiscent of the Footwear Band and likely to raise hackles at raves in the Home Counties: unconscious Freudian bird-echoes such as led to the kidnapping of a Venetian plenipotentiary, and united Cambridge geographers in hasty anti-sinology.
You think there’s anything clever in this? Our friends find themselves obliged to stuff fruit into their mouths while warbling, wash down a sow and her litter because the third sheep in line was found to have athlete’s foot: in short (bitter contrast with Ogden Fuchs’ earlier bliss) ingest, stockpile Gordon’s in the cheeks like hamsters, get blown full in the face by puffball spheres. It reminds me of an Old Testament porcine conflict—
– Memo to Bureau Chief: Pretend interference of paranormal nature with software
– Why, for gossake?
– It‘s that word PORCINE
You know what that Vietnam-vet hoped? That ‘porcine’ meant ‘funghi porcini’, the beloved boletus of his Italian youth; and he couldn‘t take it, running as he does an armourer’s, it‘s enough to drive him to blur that yearning with analgesics.
* * *
“We could do with a drink, you know,” snorted Denis soon after the heist, a character as I should explain straight out of those days when youngsters shut themselves inside sordid bars, reckoned they could sort out the spiritual problems of the deranged poultry of life, dangled but half-censored goodies within reach of dealers…
“Sola Lolita OK for you, ’Umberto, ’Umberto? Behold!”
“You’re the sort of person who laughs in a Mozart comic opera.”
“Hang on, now…” he temporised softly.
“You call this wealth, Nigel?” Denis asked in a yellow voice.
“Well, it’s bread, if only peanuts. If I were you, I’d blow it right away. Give the bastards a treat!” (Yes, that’s what I have it down that he said.)
Denis kicked his all-weather tyre, muttering in his funny clipped way,
“Slurs us up, demned mist.”
“Mist?”—Nigel had a sudden idea. The Thames Valley Police were bound to be on their way, and he slammed on the short-wave radio:
“Police are warned to beware of impossible weather conditions! You’ll only find us gone to ground Stateside, Plod, you know, growing our own fruit trees like Adam or George Washington, no lie, we’re off to Paradise!”
* * *
Do you feel this self-indulgent ill-spelt Dickensry fills a gap? Do you find it… gregariously… fertilising?
* * *
For a moment, a great wail behind the quotidian din, can be heard the cry: “We’ve lost hold of LOVE, and…”
But detail reasserts itself: a discredited politician (or, it might be, a longed-for paradise) politely chides us, requesting we not confuse quiet with loud, at which point the compiler of these pages apparently declares a moratorium on the whole dichotomy.
So, to end, a little music: perhaps Edison’s (you could say, my) party has resumed. Amid official incredulity, announcement is made of a fugue, in the German spelling, by Chopin, in the key of G major. No one’s scorn, of course, is greater than that of our camp friend who likes to dress up as a South American liberationist, and who—also using, with bitter sarcasm, the German note-names—brands no less than half the octave meretricious kitsch, a vade mecum of ‘intellectual’ fakery …
But as the first, lonely, rising fourth is heard, scepticism turns to rapture: the cry goes up, in French and German, “Oh, Dervish sage of Marseille!”, “Oh, you lovely man!”. And then, the master-stroke: devastatingly turning on its head ‘Ché’ ’s indictment, Chopin (employing an unprecedented time-signature of Pythagorean proportion) breathes a delicate, modal sigh, resting on a left-hand accompaniment of a simple minor third as a sleepy head on a pillow, slyly working in too a ‘forte-piano’ marking—perhaps to convey that brief half-waking engendered by the shutting of a distant door, or the strictures of an editor…
What? Why must you bother me right now? I’m not hungry! Tell Hugo he can go to the devil!
Vienna, Jan–Oct 1993 / Outurela, Portugal, April 2020
with thanks to Charles Pott ( the title anagram!) and other colleagues.