The great tasty menu

27 April, in the year of our Lord 2022

Up, and after a meagre breakfast and meagrer dinner, not for want of food but out of great anticipacion for the evening, settled some little matters in order. For today hath been established in my diary an event booked these severalle weeks since, in advance of the day — to wit, tonight, the Great Tasty Menu at the White fort Arms, on Whitefort street. Only all day with some little snifflings, and breathing with some effort through my nose, so prayed it was not the Covey, but I think it only a cold. At five a-clock dressed myself handsomely, and by and by comes Mr. M. Jones in a plaid shirt and an actual jacket, the smartest I ever saw him, and we off to dine. There met, by the arrangement that we had made, which was at a quarter past six a-clock, with Dr. S. Francis, who had come earlie to sneak a pint of wine before us, and then come Mr. and Mrs. Hyphen-Holmes, being propitiosely free between cruises, to sit with us; and by and by the eating house full, with not a seat free, and all very merry, with much discourse and all in expectacion for the food to be served, and in especial high spirits for it being so mighty pleasant with the lifting of the Covey rules.
  ‘What are we being served?’ all wish to know, and we pass among ourselfs the menu, sometimes the right way up, sometimes not, and squint at it, spectackles on, specktacles off, and Mrs. Hyphen-Holmes casts around for a  wench to inquire as to recommendacions for wine, but while waiting orders a jenever and tonique the size of a goldfish bowl. Necks are craned as we see dishes on trays bound for other tables and try to match them to the menu before us. Never did I hear in the place such a hubbub as while the chef himselfe circulates, a Mr. Barrie, who come from Liverpuddle to cook it all, he being a fine young man who explaynes the dishes to be placed in front of us, and we have a selfy sketch made with him to mark the occasion. A little sour doe bread is set before us to start, and Lord! but there is not a weevil to be seen, and none knows how he doth it. And then to busyness as one plate after another is delivered to our table, the whole lasting severalle hours (five, I think, or six), with pints of wine downed, and more jenever, it ever warmer and voices now rowdy and all so greatly joyed that they even talk from one table to another who they did not know, which is a great rarety. I lay down the perticulars of the Menu, here on the Record, as it was displayed at the time:

~ MENU ~

  Timbale of yellow russula and coddled spawn 

  Soup of sieved planckton, with an anchove garniche and trencher on the side

  A dish of hare’s sweetbreads, with a sprinkling of dust

  Hog’s harslet, three ways

  A mini-kebab of robins hearts on a curlew beak splinter

  Poached breast of owl in its own nest, with gizzard stock and a stack of pickled spleens

  Amuse bouch of Scotched collops


‘A Taste of the Fields’ – frickassy of boned field mouse in a rich mouse marrowbone jus, with millet dumpling, a glass of mum and a side of moleskin scratchings

  ‘A Taste of the Sea’ – steamed mermaid’s Purse on a bed of charred elvers, with compressed wrack and a whelk reduction


  Ellis’s Queen Mab pudding, with candied leather

  A bowl of fermented Creame with a snail track tuille
(mollusk may vary according to season)



So payed, 9l 10s. each of us, though none gainsay it; and, all done, parted very merry endeed, and I home in Mr. Jones’ coach, each asking of the other his favorit plate. And I said the sweetbreads, though a close call, and he the robins hearts, but he eat every morsil of everything, and hoped not to suffer indegestion from the crunchy kebbab stick, which gladdened me that I left mine. And so to bed. 


On the State of Europe

4 April, in the year of our Lord 2022

Up betimes, to be abroad upon some choares, it being a fine sunshine but again gone cold; and along the Lane come upon Mr. G. Small, unlocking his ladys wear shop, today all a-garb in a gowne of Shagg the colour of a sun flower, which flewed down to his feet, and over this a great cape the blue of a cloudless sky, which covered not only his shoulders but his head, and set upon his covered head a wonky coronet.
  ‘I feel so for the wretched people of the Cossack lands,’ explains he. ‘What must it be like for them? So I have assembled this — ‘ (he holds out his gown between finger and thumb) ‘ — to appear in solidarity. I am St. Olga of Kyev.’ Whereupon looks he up at me and bites his lower lip in doubt. ‘Do you think it too much?’
  ‘It is not too much,’ say I, kindlily.
  ‘Then too little?’
  ‘It is perfect.’
  ‘I have been toying the idea of selling up and travelling there, perhaps as a mercenary.’
  ‘I am not sure being a mercenary would play to your strengths.’
  He slumps.
  ‘My grandmother could handle a rifle. I do not see why I cannot.’
  I realise I know nothing of his back ground.
  ‘Do you have a connection with the land in question? Some family that hales from there, perhaps? Or a tie that pulls you east?’
  ‘East, but not from there. My mother’s mother came from a small Greek island off the Ottoman coast. I am one quarter Lesbian.’ He pauses and then reverts to track. ‘On each occasion I read of the war in the Cossack lands my spirits sink a little lower. The news is on the front page every day.’
  ‘It is inescapable,’ say I, for he is sadly right in what he says.
  ‘To be honest,’ blurts out he. ‘I did not think such a thing to happen in Evrope in my lifetime. Do you think that a pompose thing to say? Did you think it would happen in yours? You are much older than I!’
  ‘Thank you. But no, it is not a pompose thing to say,’ say I, for I do not disagree with him, and anyway he is of such an unconfident disposition that I ought not undermine or correct him.
  ‘It is strange, is it not,’ says he reflecktively, seeing how the lane had begun to accumulate people, ‘to see how life goes on: a hackney bound for the river, smart merchants to their work, Mrs. Waytrose opening her grocer shop. All of us about our normal busyness when cities abroad are being raised to the ground — ’
  ‘Razed to the ground.’
  ‘ — that is what I said! But why do we not do more? We have an army, and a Navy! Europe has armies!’
  ‘The Emperor has us in a double bind. We would be unwise to do the thing we feel in our bowells we should do — which in my bowells, at least, is to give the agresser a hiding — for to yield to our instincks would simply make the matter worse. Far worse, I fear. Doing less has so far saved us that. But be reassured that Europe and the Plymouth Colony, even Prussia, are sending rifles, and canon, and gunpowder to the Cossacks, though the Emperor fulminates against it.’
  ‘And Swedeland, and the Finns? I cannot fathom their position. Is it that they are in Natow but not part of the Union, or part of the Union but not in Natow? It confuses me so.’
  ‘It is the latter, I think. They wish to join with Natow but the fear is that the Sultan oppose it. He is another wiley man whom few trust.’
  ‘My grandmother shot his troops with a musket,’ says Gerard Small, nostalgickally. But now his voice becomes very sad and quiet. ‘I saw some moving pictures on the magick screen today. A Cossack woman, perhaps the age of my mother, who had a son, perhaps my age. She held a portrait of him in her hands, a picture of him as a carefree child.’ I know where he is going with the story, for I saw it myselfe. ‘She dragged his body, all on her own, from where he had fallen, Mr. Peepers. All by herself. And buried him herself, in her own garden, by the wreckage of her own house, with snow falling from the sky. Can you imagine her sorrow, for I cannot?’ He looks me in the eye. ‘Why are such things done in the world?’
  But I find I cannot even say that I do not have the answer, so look away.
  ‘I am sorry,’ says he. ‘I did not mean to upset you.’
  ‘The sun was in my eyes,’ say I, smiling weakly and blinking. ‘But look — ’ (and I point to little flashes of colour, which are here and there — a glint of blue and yellow in a window across the road; of a flag the same, in the distance upon a poal; of blue and yellow feathers in the cap of a boy at the Coffee-house where Mrs. Hyphen-Holmes will later brunch) ‘ — you are not alone in your consideration. Right across the land people display such tokens. And with all due respect to your family history of markswomanship, you should not take your involvement so far. Leave it to those who have been soldiers to be mercenaries, if they wish. But the world does not need another martyr, nor another mother to bury her son. Though if you were able and so minded,’ say I, straitening his coronet and adjusting his blue cape and his splendid yellow dress, ‘you might send a little money, or help find refuge for the dispossessed.’
  ‘I shall willingly give, and do what I am able,’ sniffs he. And then, as I stand back to make sure he is smart, he continues: ‘I know many do not know what to make of me, and some will think me silly for my choice of costume, but I beg you not refrain from telling me it is not unimportant.’
  ‘In no circumstences could I refrain from telling you it is not unimportant,’ say I, seriously. ‘It is a symbol of bearing witness. And in times of impotence it may be as much as we can do. It hath an import all its own.’
  And then we watched for a little while as the sun rose higher and our world went on its way.
  ‘Dr. Francis was here yesterday, being measured for a frock,’ says he, emerging from his melancholy revery and realising he hath a job to do. ‘She plans a trip overseas, to Legoland.’
  ‘With her family. I heared the same.’
  Now he is frowning and clearly once more trying to fathom something out.
  ‘So is Legoland in the Union and Natow, but not the euro Zone? Or is it in the Union and the euro Zone, but not Natow?’
  ‘I think it is neither in the Union, the euro Zone, Natow, Shengen nor Efter,’ say I, slightly insecurely, but then remember with more confidence something from school. ‘I am pretty sure, however, that it is in the Hanseatick league.’


Quick March

6 March, in the year of our Lord 2022

Lords day. Up, it bright but the wind very cold. After breakfast, by coach to have the customery feathers stuck up nose and down throat for a Covey test, the date for my chirurgerie being not the ninth day of April, but of March, three days hence, there having been a misteak by Heather at St. Jude’s, who last week was obliged to send me a letter of correction, which vexed me for the slipshod nature of sending the first. After, must isolate myselfe for 3 days, which is a great rigmerole. After dinner, to the office, where concluded the purchase on the line of some tickets for certain Events to be held this month, among them some payntings to be exhibited in the City, and the Opera. By the Messenger that my new coach may not be so delayed as was feared, and that it might arrive in seven or eight weeks, all the way from Bavaria, so a little cheered in my isolation.


9 March, in the year of our Lord 2022

Up very betimes, though slept ill for it a very windy night and myself not quiet in my mind, this being my day of chirurgerie, with instrucktions not to eat after a certayne hour, nor drink any drink after another, which I followed; and after, kindly taken by Mr. M. Jones in his coach to St. Jude’s Hospitalle for a half past ten a-clock, and with me a book to read and a night shirt, lest I must stay there, which I hoped not to do.
  I withdraw from setting down the detail of the day, feeling that to repeat the affairs of Medicine would make the report of them tiresome. Suffice it that there were five hours of boardom during which the only occurrance [was] that they wrote down Observations upon the steadyness of my pulse and the tension in my vessels, only the tension in my vessels that was recorded was, very clearly to my mind, too high, and after observing how she had done it, I must tell the mayde that the figures she wrote down were those of the man in the previose bed, she having failed to set the machine anew after him, which I think a very careless state of affaires; this done, I fell asleep reading my book. Then came a man who woke me up to tell me it was his job to put me to sleep, so I told him that if he wished to put people to sleep he could do worse than have them read the Life of Thos. Cromwell by the Rev. D. MacCulloch; and then he asked me some questions about whether I ever had an Aneasthetique, and how I breathed normally, which is in and then out, as I shew him. As to the rest, I cannot write of it for, thanks be to God, I must have dozed again, and only awake after all the busyness done, and amaz’d at the time’s going. Then comes to my bedside a chirurgeon, who I never saw before but tells me he is my Consultant, and says that the etchings made by the great Contryvance shew some anomalies, very minor, and of no import, but were of great artistic merit, and that the great Lesion that I observed to fill the magick screen in January hath this day been removed. At which collapsed I in a fit of tears and relief, for it joyed me as much as anything that was yet done to me that something of such monstrous size be taken away with no peril or gross disfigurement; only he did then explain the element of magnifickation that is created upon the magick screen of the Cysterscope, and that I must pull myself together, for removing a piece of flesh the diameter of one quarter-inch is not a huge endeavore. So dressed, I bid good bye to the man in the bunk above me, a poor farmer, there since yesterday and now till tomorrow, who continued to pass blood, and wished him well, and gave thanks to God for my state of health, onlie that now I must wait, to settle all in my mind, for a Report upon my lesion.
  Home at a quarter past seven a-clock by way of Many Bridge, where we collected some fish in batter, with chips and a sauce of Currie, and after supper discoursed a little. And so, Mr. Jones gone by his coach and I very tired for spending so much of a long day asleep, to bed. 


22-25 March, in the year of our Lord 2022

These days advantaged of the fine weather (which makes me to think that we are in for a warm spring, perhaps the warmest we ever had), so abroad with Mr. Jones in the City, where walked in Hide Park and all around the Serpintine lake, and the next day by some canals, where I never went before, which is called Little Venice, though in truth the number of canals is only three, which is very little; thence a quick march to dine at the house of Sir R. Wallace, where there is a nice caff in a court yard and some payntings. After, met at the Museum with Mr. L. Moran, an old friend, who came on a bycicle lent him by the First Lord of the Treasurie, and all of us to see the Stonehege exhibition there, with a great many there to see it with us, and it a very fine exhibition, I think the best I ever saw of Stonage in my entire life, though there were not the big stones there, which they kept on the plain near Sarum, so Mr. Moran said he was a bit disappointed by it, though he hath a droll sense of humour so we did not know if he meant it; and after to a tappers bar where they served tiny plates of food, which I did think were too small, but we had a lot of them and so filled us. In the evening to the Opera, where saw ‘Peter Grymes’, a play for singers and a band composed by Mr. Britain, though I was not so much smitten with the musique, but it a decent play and Mr. Terffle sung well as a man called Balustrade. The next day, which was Thursday, by water to Somerset House stairs, and, not being able to get into an exhibicion by Mr. Vangough, of all the portraits of himself that he paynted, saw all the others that were there, which I saw before, but not for a few years, and after dinner to a bacon exhibition at the Royal Academie, which was all the art works we saw, and I think it enough. In the evening after a fish supper sat to write my Journall for the last few days, which I had not done, and so to bed.


Interviewing skills

5 March, in the year of our Lord 2022

After dinner, by coach to the Conservatoire, this being the day of my Interview, taking with me no belongings but my cudgel and a piece by Mr. Purcell, which together should be sufficient to dissuade any assailant, though the streets quiet, it being a Saturday. There found the door locked, so did knock against it, and there being no answer, shielded my eyes with a hand and pressed against the window glass, leaving a greasy nose mark upon it, and squinted in, whereupon in the gloom within saw approaching a scholar, all bewigged and in a great gown, who unlocked the door for me.
  ‘I am Professor Lewis,’ says he. In the poor light I am able to see that his black gown is covered in white dust. ‘You must be — ’
  ‘Samuel Pepys,’ say I. ‘I am pleased to meet you.’ And then to put him at ease, add brightly, ‘If you need something for the dandruff, I can recommend a good champu.’
  ‘Please be seated,’ says he, uncertainly, indicating a bench in the anteroom, where filters only a little sunlight light through a clearstory window. ‘We must await my colleague. I am sure he will be here shortly. I have a little work to which to attend in the meanwhile.’
  He gone, mysteriose as he came, I sat there, and after some minutes comes another, a Dr. Cunninghame, I think from Ireland, who sits beside me, and we discourse a little upon the generalitie of musique, with which he appears well acquainted, but I am not sure if he slyly essays to test me. Anon returns the first, who leads us into his sanctum, it being evident that it is a holy of Holys, for there is a great window of stayned glass, with St. Cecilia playing upon a Yamachord, and ch[e]rubs upon lutes, and blowing on great Trompettes, and even one upon an alto saxerphone, and therein all manner of symbols pertaneing to musique; and in the chamber is also a clavachord, and a black board with a great many staves and clefs and notes in chalk thereon, and all around covered in the white dust of chalk, and in the centre a great Round Table, at which we all sit, like Arthur, Lancelott and some aspirant knight. There are some pleasantrys, after which we pass to the main purpose.
  ‘If I may introduce myselfe, my name is Samuel Pepys,’ say I, to get the ball rolling, ‘and this interview hath to do with suitability for my enrolling in a course eventuating in the attainment of a Degree in the subject of Musique.
  ‘So, have you heard of the musique of Antiquitie?’ ask I, blithely, seeking to forge ahead. ‘For over Lockup I have made myself somewhat of an Expert in the subjeckt.’ It turns out they have, for they answer in the affirmative, though they seem a little uncertain as to the trajecktory of the conversation. To ease matters I change tack and myselfe ask a question which is more open, as I have been taught in an interview situacion.
  ‘What do you think you can teach me?’ say I, and sit back in my chair awaiting their response.
  ‘You have read the Prospectus?’ ventures one, hesitantly.
  ‘Yes,’ reply I, waving a hand, ‘it all looks fine to me. I am sure my time here will be well spent.’
  ‘In that case, you will have seen that the Conservatoire offers a wide range of tuition — in Composicion, the History of Musique, Performance, Analisys, Outreach…’ (whatever that is).
  ‘Indeed it does! Though perhaps I should say that at my age Performance is less a prioritie than, say, the intellectual pursuit of the subjeckt…the musickological study of, erm, Musicalology…-ness.’ At which point I feel we have reached the kernel of the Interview and there is little more to be gained, so seek to close with, ‘Now, if there are no more questions…’
  To my irritation, it appears they are.
  ‘Your applicacion seems all to do with the Naval Board,’ says one.
  ‘Ah,’ say I, remembering that an interchange between interviewee and interviewer is to be viewed favourably, ‘you have made a pertinent point. The reason for that is that the UCAS form doth not faciliate the presentation of accomplishments for one of my age and achievements. My musical successes are detailed under “Personal Statement”.’
  ‘In that regard,’ says the other, turning the pages of my Applicacion, ‘I see that as well as your talents on the clavachord, you profess a certain skill upon the hautbois.’ He regards me above his half moon specktacles, as if expecting an answer, but I had only put that bit in to demonstrate my aptitude for the course.
  ‘I would not call it skill,’ say I, hastily, remembering my battles with intonation and the double reed. ‘And anyway, it was many years ago — some forty-five, if my mathematick serves me well.’
  ‘Yet you realised Grade VIII,’ persues he, to my discomfit. ‘We could use such a one in our band.’
  ‘Barely,’ say I, disconcerted that the whole interview procedure hath swung in an unwonted direction — opposed, as it were, along its diameter, to that which I expected. ‘But as I no longer have an instrument, the matter is somewhat hypothetickal.’
  ‘Might this hautbois not be lurking in some dank and unexplored corner of the garage?’ persists he.
  ‘My garage is very dank,’ agree I, thinking quickly, ‘owing to flooding over the years, especially during the new season of monsunes associated with the Great Weather Change. It is regrettable, but I fear that the instrument hath succumbed to a fatal case of — ’ (I cast around, desperately) ‘ — shipworm. Anyway,’ add I, airily seeking to change the subjeckt, ‘my ability lies more in prowess at the keyboard.’
  ‘Well, I suppose you could play a figured bass,’ says the other, seeming doubtful — but not as doubtful as I, for whom a figured bass is as absurd an art as Astrologie; and of a sudden I feel the need to recoup ground, regain command of proceedings and bring matters to a close.
  ‘Well,’ say I, standing up, ‘this hath been a congenial and informative interview, and I am pleased to say that I think the Conservatoire will suit my requirements admirably. Congratulations, and I look forward to seeing you in September!’ I sense that they feel slightly wrong footed, but advantaging myself of their perplexion we shake hands nevertheless, and I place my hat upon my head in finality. ‘I thank you for your attendance. Good day.’
  And so swept I out, full of conviction that this exchange should have been recorded for posterity as a model of interviewing skill.
  Thence home, and after settling some matters of import in the office and brushing Banjo’s teeth, to supper and to bed, though with some degree of restlessness, for if there is one thing I do not wish to do it is to recapitulate the woodwind trials of my adolescence. 


The shortest month, shortened

10 February, in the year of our Lord 2022

Up, it a brave morning, and at a half past ten a-clock took in my coach for a final repare (or so it is to be hoped), they very solicitous in the matter, that it hath taken so many attempts. All done very quick, so home by noon. In the afternoon to the office, where organised my interview at the Conservatoire.


14 February, in the year of our Lord 2022

Up betimes, and by a quarter-past 8 at St. Judes hospitalle for a pre-operative Assessment, which all done, that is to say, attencion to samples of the blood humour levels and the tension in my vessles, home for breakfast. Removed dead voal from under bed.


21 February, in the year of our Lord 2022

This week very stormy, with three great storms hard, one upon the other, so that I feared for my slates, and that some great damage be done by the falling of trees in the garden, but, thanks be to God, all withstood it. By delivery today, a letter of appointment for Day case Chirugerie, which is to be 9th April, which I perceived to be a Saturday but think the reason a recouping of delays from the Covey plague. Abroad, all a-gossip about the Duke of Yorke, who is set upon the payment of a fortune to a woman that accused him of great and salacious misconduct, the amount being said as much as 100000l, which seems a lot to pay to a person he said he never met.


24 February, in the year of our Lord 2022

Up, and all are agog to hear the news put about by the cryer, that while we slept soldiers from Russia envaded the Cossack lands, as all feared; and in the gazette the pages with no other news but this, only too much full of speckulation, I think, with one who says that the Cossacks will not fight, another that their leader will flee, and another that the Emperor is mad and hath started a war that will engulf all Evrope. After supper I took down my globe and turned it to seek the citys they write of, for I know as little of them as Samerkand or Timboktu, and by candle light and the aid of my hand lens found marked there Kiev, and Lvif, and Oddesa on the Black Sea, and considered in somber mood the borders of Russia, and where it might eye next. 


28 February, in the year of our Lord 2022

Up, and after dressing, by my coach to visit my father, whose birthday is today, being ninety-two years. But on the way hailed by a Messenger, so drew the coach to a halt, and found the message to be that within some few days I must attend for a Covey test, this being the requisite for my day Case admission, and that after it I must isolate myself — only there is some confusion when I protest that today is a long way from the ninth of April. My father I found in good spirits, and my mother also, and he said to me that had been to the shops, and his chest the better for some spring air. After an early supper, finished by six a-clock, before Leanne come to put my mother to bed, discoursed a little upon the affaires in Foreyne Parts, which is on the lips of all, and how we are admiring of the leader of the Coassack lands, Mr. Silenski, who, so far from fleeing, hath said (or so it is reported) that what he needs is ‘weapons, and not a coach to take him away from there’ (or some such), and there is now an opinion, which is pretty general, that is fulsome in praise of him, that the leader of a country should rise so fully to what his people deserve (while ours for his part awaits Mrs. Gray’s report and the findings of the Constabulary). Went away merry and thankful to God find my father in such health. Late home, and so to bed. 


A prayer in time of great need

7 February, in the year of our Lord 2022

Up earely, and got myselfe ready, purposing to take my coach to the Repair Shopp, where they were to replace the breaks on the front wheels, so that it may stop properly and correcktly (a matter I had hoped to defer, having a new coach on order, but they told me the new may not arrive for six months, or even nine, for a world wide shortidge of Chips). There met by design Mr. M. Jones, who came in his coach to greet me, being luckily free, and we together to his house where fell into discourse for some little time; and anon took a little dinner, though all must be timed to the minute, for at two a-clock was my appoyntment to be put through the magick ray contryvance, and my instructions theretofore that I must drink at least a quart of water in the hour before it, and not void my bladder, which seemed to me a great trouble, but it would under mine the whole enterprise should I not do it. So took a great bottle of light glass, full of water, and swug it in Mr. Jones coach, riding thereby to the hospitall, which was not St. Jude’s but miles away at Bottlewithy. There found my destination to be located not within the precincts of the Hospitalle itselfe, but in one shabby corner of the great courtyard where all the coaches try to park, and all there a-squabble, there being no spaces, and a huge din with people crying above the naying of horses and the clatter of wheels, ‘There’s one, over there!’, and over the slamming of doors and the clashing of fists, ‘That man’s going! Quick!’. My objective had the appearance of a shack upon ricketty legs to lift it from the puddles and filth, in the hope that all the effluent from the horses might pass beneath it, though the boards to its little waiting room not so high above the cobbles that the ladys must not lift their skirts if they did tread upon them.
  ‘I confess to a little apprehension,’ vouchsafe I to Mr. Jones, ‘as to what might be revealed by this examination.’
  ‘I am sure there is no need. They will put you at ease, I am certain of it, for good patient communication is highly prized these days. I shall find another place to park the coach. Text me when you’re out.’
  Thus depositted, there sat I, on my own in the waiting room, and thought thus: viz. — that fifteen minutes of activitie can feel such a short time and fifteen minutes of boardom so long; but fifteen minutes of awareness of a filling bladder that under no circumstences might be relieved is interminable, and it put me in a great sweat. Anon, was bid by a minyon, naught more than a lad who came clad in a thread bare tunick, to cross to the shack on stilts wherein was positioned the great Contryvance (of which I heared my father speak, for he hath been fed through it, as I have related in the pages of this Journall), and Lord! there greeted in the middle of the room by a great Engine, with the semblance of the biggest poe-low Mint I saw in my entire life, all a-wherr and with twinkly lights. There bowed in greeting to me another of the kidney monks, again habitted all in black cassack, and around his waist a white cord, who with an outstreched hand bid me lie upon a stretcher that passed all the way through the Contryvance, at the foot end of which was positioned a second minyon.
  ‘You have not voided your bladder, Mr. Pepys? It is full, as advised?’
  ‘It is,’ say I, casting around for an emergencie chamber pot. ‘But I should warn you that you find me reaching my limit of distension.’
  ‘We shall expedite the procedure as necessary. But first, if you will give me your arm, I must thrust into this little venule here this enormous gaping hollow needle, thus — ’ (Ow!’) ‘ — and now dispense into your circulatory System — ’ (he opens a solution that smells of kelp) ‘ — this alchemickal material here. It is rich in Iodyne to outline the organs.’
  I now find myself speaking quickly, muscles a-clench netherly and with increasing uncertaintie how long they may hold out.
  ‘Thank you, but matters are now getting quite painful, if we can proceed forthwith!’
  ‘All in good time,’ says he. ‘We must not dispense with the preliminaries.’ Whereupon he takes up a kneeling attitude at my side. (This will be the bit where he puts me at ease, think I, the bit with the highly prized communication.) ‘Oh, Lord, our Heavenly Father,’ he intones, ‘who hath made us in Thy own image, we pray to Thee for the health of Thy unworthy out-patient, Samuel — ’
  ‘Amen,’ say I, hoping to get in quick, but there is more to go.
  ‘ — that the image we make ourselfs this day of his foetid innards be a fit and right Representacion thereof — ’
  ‘ — and that all abberacions as may be found therein by the miraculous gift Thou hast given us of computerised Tomography may be revealed unto us; that his suffering may be assuaged — ’
  ‘ — and that he may be delivered by Thy gracious hand from the prospect of perilous or grossly disfiguring Surgerie — ’
  ‘ — or that with Thy divine guidance he be given the fortitude of Purpose to prepare for that time that must come to us all, to the day of Resurrection and to Thy Judgement in the manner of all his Sins.’
  ‘In the name of the Father, and his son — ’
  ‘Jesus Christ!
  ‘ — and the Holy Spirit. Amen.’
  ‘Amen,’ chorus the minyons at either end of my stretcher. Where-upon all snap into action as they grab the stretcher poles to lift and tighten the canvas beneath me, and the Examination finally begins. Taking half a dozen little quick steps, the one of them tottering first forward and the other back, then the other forward and the first back, these two urchins ferry me back and forth through the giant mint with the Hole, this being performed severalle times before they rest, panting. The monk in his habit draws quickly with charcole upon an artist’s pad, now pausing to create a downward stroke, now a curve on the left and then again, slightly lower, on the right. All the while he checks a little magick screen before him, then shades a little here and smudges a little there. We have another couple of runs through while he scrutenises the final results, then all is done.
  ‘You will be pleased to know we are finished, Mr. Pepys. I am not permitted to divulge the results. They will be delivered in due course to your Chyrurgeon. Any questions?’
  By now my thighs are clamped together and I am nearly crying.
  At last relieved and reunited with Mr. Jones, thence to retreave my coach with its new breaks, though at the Repair Shop they informed me that they had found also the cause of the noyse that comes from under its body, which they had said these two months to be of no consequence and the coach safe to be driven, only now it seems there is a repair needed of some urgincy, which vexed me for I did not understand how it could be changed around so.
  After supper to bed, though a poor sleep, for all the night a-fret for the fear of perilous and disfiguring surgery.


The study of Musique

3 February, in the year of our Lord 2022

Up, and by correspondence some confirmacion of a matter upon my mind for some little while, which is that I return to think of the study of Musique, which would become me, having a musique room and made some Composicions, and liking pretty well to listen to it. By and by comes Mr. M. Jones and I explayne the same to him.
  ‘And where do you plan to undertake this Education?’ says he.
  ‘I am embarked all ready upon the preliminarys of the exercise,’ say I, ‘and have sent my Applicacion.’
  ‘To the Royal Academy?’
  ‘To the Conservatoire.’
  ‘The Conservatoire?’
  ‘In Banger.’
  ‘Banger!’ He pales. ‘But is that not a part of the City where few dare venture unaccompanied? A borough in whose mean streets lies not a little danger?’
  ‘I think not that there is not a little danger there,’ say I.
  ‘I did not say that I think that there is not a little danger there for no reason,’ retorts Mr. Jones.
  ‘Well,’ say I, giving ground and standing it at the same time, ‘though I am not disinclined to disbelieve your disquiet that there might not be a little danger, and not being minded to disagree that such danger is not unknown, neither am I willing to disavow my opinion that I should not permit myself to be dissuaded from my course of action.’ I pause to go over that sentence in my mind to make sure all the negatives cancel out but cannot remember how it began, so plow on. ‘Anyway, it is in Upper Banger.’
  ‘That may be the case. But only the other day did I read of a gentleman mugged outside The Globe Inn on Albert street by itinerants who stole his bass viall.’
  ‘Such squalid crimes are not uncommon in the streets of the City.’
  ‘I would call it base viallence,’ quips he, and I feel that on top of quadruple negatives we are in for one of those Dad Joke mornings.
  ‘He was unwise to venture there as a solo performer,’ admit I. ‘But to assuage your concerns I shall endeavour to walk abroad with companyons — as a trio, or even a Quartett.’
  ‘Huh. You may still be set upon by an organised Ensemble.’
  ‘Well, the Conservatoire is where trayned my teacher Mr. Greeting upon the flageolitt,’ counter I. ‘And all speak well upon the matter of its practices.’
  ‘You will be telling me next that it hath a Sound reputacion.’
  ‘Stop it.’
  ‘Anyway, for what reason do you wish to persue such scholarship at your advanced age? Surely you should be devoting your declining years to gardening and afternoon naps?’
  ‘I devoted my working years to gardening and afternoon naps. It is to defer Congitive Decline that I am set upon this course. Lock Up, as you know, afforded me an opportunitie to read attentively upon the subject of musique in Antiquitie, heretofore a void in my knowledge.’
  ‘Yes, I do know. You droned on about it for weeks.’
  ‘Drone being the aposite word!’ say I, brightly. ‘For the interesting thing is that the concept of the Drone in musique can be traced back to the earliest — ’
  ‘Enough!’ He holds up a hand. ‘I feel sufficiently well-informed upon the subjeckt of drones to play with virtuositie upon the bagpipe — or worse, and Lord forbid, upon the banjo.’
  ‘Well,’ say I, ‘I feel I play well enough upon the clavachord, a more mellyfluose instrument than either, and it would joy me greatly to perform with a Reformacion consort, or company of some similar nature.’
  ‘Be careful, then, for if you find in your band a thuggish fellow with a giant violin you may be accused of Consorting with a known criminal.’
  This being an unexpectedly good joke, he away and I to a little work in the garden and a nap. To supper at the White fort Arms on White Fort street. And there comes with us Mr. Sean Jones, Mr. Jones son, which I never met before, and much lively discourse on divers matters, incl. that he hath a drone that flys into the sky to sketch the scene from above (which in all my books of Musique in the Dark Ages I never read, though it was not the case that I had insufficient uncertainty to persuade him that his was a misuse of the term, so did keep quiet). Also discoursed a little upon news more defynite, that the eastern lands of the Cossack are endeed threatened, though the despatches from Mosco mock it as a practice, but all know that if our own First Lord is a born dissembler (which only the gullyble doubt) then the Emperor of Russia is a maister in the same dark art. But then to matters of less Consequence, and all very merry with a fine wine from Chilly.


Uninformed consent

31 January, in the year of our Lord 2022 (part the Second)

(Warning: herein is contayned informacion of a lurid and unsavoury, but ultimately strangely compelling, medical Nature.)

…And so by 1 a-clock I find my way to a dank part of St. Judes Hospitalle where I hear the echo of constant dripping and water rushing behind the walls, for the hospitalle sits by the great pumping wheel of the City. I am met by a nurse with the overall shape and cheek colour of a shiny red apple straight from the tree. She beams up at me and in no time I am left to put on my dressing gown and splosh my way through a door marked This Way to the Scoap. The room is again dimly lit, but I am aware of the rosy-cheaked nurse, a businesslike nun in a fine wimple and a young man in operating theatre greens and mask. There are puddles everywhere and I notice the little nurse to be wearing galoshers and the young man bright yellow wellington boots; the nun I cannot ascertayne for her habit is voluminose, though she hath a wide gait and her knees rise high when she walks.
  ‘Good afternoon, Mr. Pepys,’ says he. ‘This is Sister Polyuria and I am the Registrar.’ (How marvellous! think I, relaxing a little. I am not in the hands of a mere consultant.) ‘We are the team who today will be inserting this enormose hosepipe up your tiny orifice into your innards, tipping in gallons of water from that huge cask on the stand there, taking a look around by means of this Heath-Robynson arrangement here, and secretly hoping to find some awesome bit of Pathology so I can practise emergencie pelvic surgery and tick another box in my Portfolio. Sister will position you on the table, and our novice, Glomerula, will be there for reassurance.’ He flashes a quick smile. ‘Ours, not yours.’
  This is all happening a little more speedily than I imagined. I cast around to see what I must do next.
  ‘Mr. Pepys, you appear to be wearing your dressing gown over your ordinary winter clothes,’ says Sister, crossly.
  ‘I have taken off my coat,’ protest I, but she will not be swayed and clearly more layers must be removed.
  ‘You will need to take off your linen socks… (which I do)
      ‘…and your woollen stockings… (which I do)
            ‘…and your velvet breeches…’
  ‘Surely that is all?’ protest I.
  ‘Not quite,’ says she, sternly. ‘And now the cotton pantaloons.’ But then, before I can comply, ‘Mr. Pepys, what is that sticking out?’
  I look down in alarm to my crotch.
  ‘That is my cataplasm,’ say I with relief, as I fish it out awkwardly from beneath the remaining layers, ‘applied four weeks ago on the instruction of my own doctor.’
  ‘You are supposed to change it daily,’ says she, taking it with disgust between finger and thumb.
  ‘Change it?’
  ‘And now the silken drawers.’
  ‘But they are all I have left on!’ cry I, reddening in my state of flummoxy. I look in vain at the others to see if I have misunderstood, but I have not.
  ‘The Snugjunk, Mr. Pepys. We do not have all day.’
  And so I remove the garment that last hides my modestie, but, in the struggle and discomfiture of so doing before so many, to my great alarm something firm and spherical falls from between my thighs.
  ‘A-a-agh!’ squawk I, aghast, as I follow its trajecktory to the floor. My hands fly to my mouth in abject terror. ‘It has come to this! I am emasculated!’
  ‘Nonsense, Mr. Pepys. Everything appears present and correckt,’ says Sister, eyeing my Parts with disdain.
  ‘Then what is that?’ cry I in horror as she stoops to retrieve with distaste what has fell at my feet.
  ‘No doubt the lesion reported by Brother Renald, and the source of your day’s discomfort. It appears to be an old pomander. Now, lie upon the couch.’
  And so, un-clothed and exposed from my waist down, I lie with my head upon a pillow and gaze at the ceiling while the Registrar sets about his work.
  ‘This will feel a little cold, and may sting — ’ (both of which are true) ‘ — and I will just need to take him…and hold him here — ’
  At which point springs into my mind an improper image of la femme MacSporran, along with great alarm at its potential for embarrassment. But the little red-cheeked novice seems to read my mind, for she grasps my hand to reassure me.
  ‘Try to take your mind off matters by thinking of something relaxing, Mr. Pepys,’ burbles she. ‘Something you are looking forward to.’
  ‘Well, I am buying for myselfe a new coach,’ say I, thinking it relaxing enough.
  ‘Marvellous!’ cries she. ‘I can just see you with a great thrusting red Ferrari!’
  ‘That is not what I had in mind!’
  ‘Then imagine you are on holiday! In Paris beneath the Eiffel Tower! Or admiring the Washington Monument!’
  ‘I should prefer to imagine myself upon some sun-drenched beach with waves lapping the nearby shore.’
  ‘Ah, yes!’ cries she. ‘With high pressure pumping the mercury to the very top of the barometer!’
  ‘You are a novice, aren’t you?’ say I, drily, and then ‘Oh!
  ‘We’re in!’ comes a cry from between my legs. ‘Sister, man the bucket!’ At which the nun climbs upon a stool and by means of a pulley hoists a great bucket up to the leaky barrel above her. Water sloshes everywhere as a clanking mechanism tips it so that the bucket’s contents top up the cask. As her skirts ride up I see she is wearing a pair of black flippers.
  ‘Now then, Mr. Pepys, if you wish to watch proceedings, all is revealed on the magick screen here.’ The Registrar indicates what seems to be a great convex mirror up and to my left, only what is visible upon it is no form of reflexion but what appears to be the distorted interior of a great wet pink balloon. He feels obliged to provide a guided tour.
  ‘These are the openings of the ureters — ’ (and I admit a resemblance to Dr. Scarborough’s dissection) ‘ — like the eyes of a snake.’
  ‘Sometimes,’ whispers the little novice confidentially, ‘we see them wink.’
  ‘Now I will turn the ’scope upon itself to examine the Neck of the bladder…and then, as I withdraw, we will see the orifice of the duct responsible for — ’
  ‘Yes, thank you very much. The narration more than suffices,’ say I.
  ‘But, wait, what have we here?’ He pauses and the image congeals. What we have here appears to me to be not only malevolent but huge, for it fills the entirety of the magick screen. I ask guardedly as to its nature.
  ‘It is a Lesion,’ says the Registrar knowledgeabubblie. ‘If you would be kind enough to keep very still, I shall make a sketch of it. I shall need to discuss it with the boss.’ (There is a Senior Registrar! think I with some comfort. The person who knows the most of all! And I am greateful once more to be in such hands.)
  ‘There,’ says he again at length. ‘Out!’ And the screen goes dark. ‘Now then, I am going to ask you to lie on your left-hand side. We need to examine the prostatae. You need not be alarmed. It is a digital examination.’
  ‘I know,’ say I, airily, for since the test drive of my new coach I am fully conversant with the subject and assume the Technologie, with its magick screen and little pictures, and its box with tiny lights, to be tucked out of sight. ‘How marvellously state-of-the-art!’
  ‘Not quite.’
  ‘What??? — Oh!!!’ and I take a sharp in-breath.
 ‘Uh-huh…’ murmurs he, squinting at the ceiling as he executes the job at hand, ‘…just round here…’
  ‘…and a bit up here…’
  ‘…and around there…’
  ‘…and there we are, done!’
  ‘Sister, the sluice!’
There is the slapping of deliberate but ungainly splashy footsteps as she disappears from view, and then, with a great clanking of chains and an immense gurgle from a nearby drain, we are finished.
  After a short while I am dressed again to meet the cold, and while Sister is busy with mop and bucket the Registrar summarises my Management Plan, which is to be as follows: viz. — that the amount of tumour poison in my blood is of a normal degree, so naught is necessary there; no stone is present, but he will discuss with colleagues the charcoal sketch he hath made, and that I am to expect a further appoyntment to have the depicted Lesion removed; that the nature of Brother Renald’s other findings be confirmed by magick ray etchings; and now if I have no questions that will be all for today.
  ‘Do you not wish to see my consent form?’ ask I as I button my coat.
  ‘Oh, God, they’re not using them now, are they?’ says he, and declines it. ‘But if you want to write to say you had a great time, I can put that in my Apraisall.’
  After supper, to bed, though disturbed all night by nightmares of fighting my way out of a pink balloon before I drown.


Three saints and a brother

31 January, in the year of our Lord 2022 (part the First)

Up betimes, having all night a very poor sleep for some anxietie playing upon my mind, which was not for the Procedures themselfs, which I was to undergo today in the Hospitalle, but for what might be uncovered by them. It being a cold, dark winters morning, and no fresh candles to hand, fumbled with inadequate light in a drawer for clean undergarments, all tidied away amongst an assortment of old sachets, draw-string bags of herbs and pott pourees placed there by my late wife to freshen the linen, and these I put on, wishing to be well-dressed at all layers, though strangely now aware of a new discomfort in the nethers when I thought all settled with my antebiotick. Wriggled to try to better it but did not succeed and found it worse when I sat, so at breakfast stood to eat a little porrage and drink a little tea to swallow my Physick. After, read again the sheaf of informacion sent to me, to ascertain I had missed naught, which comprised The Nature of Cistoscopie and What To Expect (or Otherwise) from an Exceptionally Sound Examinacion, a booklet entitled St. Judes Hospitalle ~ Percepts & Precautions for the Covey Plague – in which is describ’d for the Benefitts of Patients and Sundry visiters the Preventitive Measures Taken and Safe Guards hereby put in Place for the Contaynment of the Spread of sub-Type B.1.1.529, a.k.a. the Ommercron Varyant, and a consent form which simply said ‘Sign Here ☞ ’.
  Thus, garbed against the winters cold and with my dressing gown in my little bag, at 11 a-clock found I myselfe within the precincts of the ancient Hospitalle, on a cold stone corridor lit by a few guttering candles that afforded no heat, where sat awhile beneath a cold stone arch upon a cold stone bench, whose hard surface increased the new pain in the region of my perinium, and caused me to fret anew that I was cursed once more by the stone. By and by came from the shadows a stooped and hooded figure, garbed all in black, face invisible between black cowl and black mask, who seemed to find his way by feeling the pillars of the arches beside him, and stood before me.
  ‘Who is there?’ asks he.
  ‘My name is Pepys,’ say I. ‘I have an appointment at eleven for an Exceptionally Sound Examinacion.’
  ‘My name is Brother Renald. I am one of the kidney monks and I will be performing your examinacion today. Come.’
  And so he led me further along the corridor, to a heavy wooden door on great iron hinges, where he seemed to feel with his finger tips for the latch. The room was larger than I expected, but with little more within than a pair of paynted statues, a chair, a bench, some candles and a curious instrument in the form of a slim black cone, set upon the floor. Each corner of the room vanished into shadows, as did the apex of its vault, where I sensed the presence of small bodies, hanging. The monk pushed back his hood, and now I saw that in his eyes was the whiteness of milk where should be the black depths of the pupil.
  ‘The candles are for your benefitte, Mr. Pepys,’ says he. ‘Now, perhaps you would be good enough to remove your tunic and waistcoat, loosen your belt, lift up your shirt and lie upon the bench on your left side.’
  I having done as entreated, he took up his slender black cone and proceded to place the larger cyrcumference of this device upon my flank, whereupon I perceived that its slim flare narrowed to a delicate mechanism at the smaller end, and that this provided a close fit to the external Oriffice of his left ear. Thus positioned, he extracted from within his capaciose robe a tiny tuning fork, which he struck upon the bench and placed vibrating upon my hip bone, though I could hear no noyse from it. Thus alternately striking and placing he listened, moving his strange trumpet with methodickle intent across my flank whilst seeming to map in his mind what he heard. The same procedure now with the other side, until all seemed to satisfy him and I was bid dress.
  ‘I believe there to be a slight anomallie,’ says he, straightening to sum up, ‘posterior to the lower pole of the right kidney, perhaps arising from the corticle Structures of the kidney itself or possibly lying within the perinephric fat, more likely cystique than solid.’
  ‘I see,’ say I, deflated to take on board this unexpected finding.
  ‘There is something else,’ continues he. ‘It is beyond the confynes of my examination and I may be picking up some bat squeeks, but I sense a curiose space-occupying Lesion in the vicinitie of the perinæum. Does it pain you there?’
  ‘Since this very morning when I dressed,’ say I, further deflated and anxiose, ‘I have had a pain at the very site where Mr. Hollier the chyrurgeon cut me, if that is the position you mean.’
  ‘I will report my findings. You have another appointment later today, I believe?’
  ‘I do, at 1 a-clock. Thank you for your time,’ say I and then, while I tie my cravatt, I attempt to disguise my disquiet and venture, ‘May I ask who are these here?’
  ‘Ah,’ says he, seeming to follow my eyes, ‘they are fine statues, are they not? This is St. Vitalis of Assisi, the patron of our little order. The other is St. Henry the Exuberant,’ and here he permits himself a wry smile, ‘who is said to have suffered a chronic urinery infection from which he sadly died. Allow me to show you out.’ …


Toggle off

24 January, in the year of our Lord 2022

Waked and up, and, it being a bright sunshine, purposed afresh to draw plans for a new coach, and so set out by my coach to the coachmakers, where I did take mine for a repair two weeks ago, waiting upon their investigacion of a noyse from beneath its body, which I did hear especially on rough streets, but after some hours unable to find the source of it, though they heard it as plain as day, they reassured me it was of no consequence, but only some little annoyance, and the coach safe to be driven, though I think now it is even worse and more expense will come with it, if I keep it.
  There took for a ride a new coach that they had, and rode a mighty fine ride in it, only that in the years since my last coach, all is changed inside, with so many little things that emprove it, such as glass in the windows. But to drive it — Lord! how everything is controll’d with little devices, the like of which I never saw, and so I must ask in a witless sort of way the manner of their working.
  ‘Everything hath changed since last you bought a coach,’ says the coachmaker, as we sit together on the raised seats at the front. ‘All is now digital.’
  ‘Digital?’ say I.
  ‘Digital means anything done by a magick screen with little pictures, or in a box with tiny lights,’ says he.
  ‘Ah, yes,’ say I, wishing to demonstrate evidence of catching on. ‘I have seen those tiny lights on my new musical box. The sound does not work unless they are twinkling.’
  ‘Those are Ellie Dees. Now, this device here — ’ (he demonstrates a little magick window by where lie the reins, fixed at knee height by a sturdy metal rod) ‘ — is the centre of Reason for the whole affair.’
  I look where he points and see on the screen a collection of arcane symbols in many colours.
  ‘Are they Masonic?’ ask I in awe.
  ‘They are Ikons, there to provide warnings of sundry natures. I shall take you through them one by one. This — ‘ (he points at a little yellow one) ‘ — will inform you how far you may travel before refilling the horses nosebags. And with this — ’ (he prods a little orange one) ‘ — you may set the trot speed: six miles an hour, say, or seven if you dare.’
  ‘And this little brown one?’
  ‘Emissions, so you may stop and your servant get out with a shovel.’
  We move on.
  ‘This selection here is where we control the sound system.’
  ‘I see! How marvellous! This orange one here?’
  ‘That warns that you are about to hear Any Answers, which might otherwise ruin a Sunday afternoon in the park.’
  ‘And this red one?’
  ‘That is the Dissembling icon. You can toggle it to Johnson On — ’ (which he does, so we hear, ‘Mr. Speaker, I can once again reassure the House that no Lockdown Rules were broken at any point during — ’) ‘ — or Johnson Off.’ (‘Sailing By’ plays.) ‘Off is the default and we have never seen it changed.’
  ‘And can I play my own music?’
  ‘There is room at the back for a small lutenist.’
  So, swept along by enthusiasm I say I will buy one, its livery to be Attol blue, varnished metallick, with a black velvet enterior, so leave a depositt, 30l 3s.
  And so home in boyant spirits, though they did not last, for after a late dinner came correspondence, informing me I must attend the Hospitalle, in one weeks time, and, after supper, read in the gazette that our spies in Mosco fear that the Emperor of Russia thinks to envade the Cossack lands, which I think should freeze all the hearts of Evrope if it come to pass.