16 Apr

Let me introduce you to Cardew Bonceworthy.
There are some who say I should tear straight into his story and to hell with what you might make of poor old Cardew, but I want to write this properly. I want you to know what’s going on in my mind. I want you to feel him. All of him.
You see, Cardew Bonceworthy is going on in my mind.
He was born about an hour ago in the dregs of a cup of coffee. Right at the bottom where the instant stuff is undissolved like it usually is because I don’t stir it properly. He was a bitter taste in my mouth and an echoing reaction in my brain and hey! Presto! There was Cardew.
Fully formed and growing old within the minute.
An all-knowing grotesque with too many words in his mouth for his brain to organise with any degree of propriety. Cardew Bonceworthy was positively objectionable and he leapt from my coffee cup with a frown on his face and a darkness in his coffee-eyes.
“I’m out of here, you moron!” he pronounced, and stormed off. Out of my coffee cup and out of my mind and into the world where any old ogre might knock him down or gobble him up or do any of the things that ogres do to newly formed Cardews.
He made it to the old library in town. I saw his image on the television, a brusque sort of pompous image, and he snorted the air as if it was toxic or coke or something like that, and he went in.
It was the old library – I mentioned that, didn’t I? The one in town that has been closed so long that even the spiders have forgotten when it was open… Well, he made it into the old library and went up to the reception desk, which was unmanned and unwomanned. (I wonder why the spell checker on this computery-thing likes “unmanned” but doesn’t like “unwomanned”? Is it a remnant of sexism from when women didn’t count?)
In fact, the library was so old that it had long closed its doors to everyone but Cardew, and by some miracle of space and time and its damnable continuum he managed to worm his way in. But then, doors would never present much of an obstacle to Cardew.
Old libraries are musty places, especially if all they’ve got in them are a few piles of old books due for the pulping works because nobody has wanted them for a decade, with the odd less tatty but equally unloved title amongst them, smelling just as unwashed and unwanted.
“Oh mercy me!” groaned Cardew Bonceworthy, “poor things, neglected wretched, what shall I do?”
“Cardew? Is that you, Cardew?” came a voice from behind a particularly large and fusty pile of unwanted literature, leather-bound hardbacks full of words arranged in particularly unwanted orders and read by nobody, newspapers announcing the end of the Boer War and half a dozen well-thumbed copies of “Soho Treats”, little tabloid magazines full of photos of naked women from the days when naked women were exclusively black and white and had their private parts tidily retouched out of existence.
“Mother!” he replied, knowing the voice instantly.
“Cardew, you’ve been a very naughty boy…” it began so severely he started quivering and shaking..
“It was the coffee, Mother,” replied Cardew, using a snivelling tone of voice. “I came here because I love you,” he added, “every breath you take and every heave of your mighty bosom! There was a time … I know, it was a long time ago … when we could have made something of the world, have maybe conquered it … and we can’t blame that nasty Mr Hitler for our failure, the fault was entirely our own…”
Cardew Bonceworthy found his way past an unused and splintered book-case until he was standing tall and unwashed behind that noxious pile of unwanted printing, and there was his mother. His breast swelled with sudden pride. A dribble of thick, black coffee trickled down his nose.
“THE WORLD AND ITS ANTS”, he read aloud from the cover of the topmost book.
“That’s my boy…” crooned Mother. “Totally unwashed and unread. Mankind doesn’t know what its eyes are for, not reading that masterpiece of the printed word… it’s no wonder things are falling to pieces just about everywhere…”
“THE WORLD AND ITS ANTS by CARDEW BONCEWORTHY” repeated the dregs from my coffee cup. “Unread, unwanted, not even with a date stamped on its issue page…”
“But your mother none the less…” it crooned back at him.
“Oh snot is me,” he sighed, and allowed the contents of his Cardew Nose to drip onto his mother’s title page and form and neat and coffee-coloured letter “P” before the dusty ANTS”
“Mmmm…” she whispered, and winked at him.


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