The Headcold Ritual

Stephen is unwell. He languishes upstairs, yodelling fluent self-pity into the eiderdown, while I sit on the sofa with a saucer full of stale Bourbons and his paperback copy of the Autobiography. My first impulse was to balance the spine in my palm and see what page it fell open at. It would furnish a valuable insight into his vision of himself. I decided I’d better not. One can have too much insight, especially into a friend.

This is Alan, of course.

Stephen’s prose style, on first glance, is extraordinary. I can’t think where he got it. The opening is so overwhelming in its striving for pathos that I had to break off for a nap.

I shall curl up with the second sentence later, when I have steeled myself with a milky Earl Grey, but first I must ransack the cabinets for a Beecham’s Powders. Poor Lulu will help. She has a remarkable sense of smell.

I suppose it is some compensation.

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