Launch

After late night shopping for an Alaskan salmon steak for today's cooked lunch, I went on to the launch of the Raw Food directory at the Richmond Organic Pharmacy where was one woman talking to a man. I pushed open the door anyway. She turned out to be Pam, designer of the CORRESPONDENCE book cover as well as that of the directory, whom I was meeting for the first time, and he, Paul, a sometime editor for Jacyntha, a small publisher, he explained, breaking into India with two translators of a Buddhist book by Margaret Dempsey. Coals to Newcastle?

It was one of my two days off for the sake of my raw, recuperating liver, so I wasn't drinking. No sooner had she arrived, Jacyntha was, drinking that is, the bottom of her plastic flute breaking off in her eagerness to imbibe. She went through several glasses. She was so well brushed up as to be barely recognisable and immediately demanded where was Fiona, my library friend. I stammered out an abject apology in my most obsequious and submissive manner - well, you know what Jacyntha's like - that Fiona had a subsequent social engagemnment and lift home to it. Then, Jacyntha stormed on, I should've brought another librarian. 'You hadn't ordered me to!' I objected, 'Mein Fuhrer, and you know I only do as you command,' which slipped down well; I was not immediately sent to the gulag though ordered to stay to the end of the ordeal. In my slavering manner I suggested Karen, my editor, be punished for non-attendance but Jacyntha graciously and disappointingly waived punishment for her. Women always get off with everything! Men pay, and pay, and pay.

In her tow was Ian, variously described by her as desperate and repressed - one can only wonder who might be the cause - and by Jenny as lost. He did seem to be tugging away all the time though always returning with a most beneficent smile, masking god alone knows what torment. He did complain at missing Primeval, which really should be spelt Primaeval but I'm pedantic.

Jacyntha complained people who said they'd come hadn't and I suggested people do say that but was savaged by both her and her hell hound at doubting people who gave their word to her would not keep it. Twice I yelped, twice I was put down, like a dog.

Pam was sent off to Waterstone's to chivvy up the guy there into coming as promised but she'd forgotten who it was she'd spoken to and anyway the place was shut, so who was vindicated, who? I'll give you a clue. Me. Whoever it was had said it was coming and hadn't, so there. Pam had this habit of not remembering who and on being reminded shifting social gear. I casually remarked on this. I was accused by - yes, you've guessed - Jacyntha of being a stirrer. Me! A stirrer? It's a calumny. I just like to make things interesting, for myself of course, for others too, not that I care about that, by making them interesting, livening things up a bit. How can that possibly be called stirring? It's a social skill, to be commended, not deplored.

"I should talk to my nephew from South Africa," Jacyntha said, obviously herself lacking in the social nous I have in abundance, so, greatly daring, I shoved her in his direction. So remiss is she, I had to ask him myself what his name was and this after quite a lengthy disquisition and interrogation on my part. He's called Cameron, from Durban, looking for a flat in Acton for himself and his Japanese girlfriend. He works as a hotel concierge and the Raw Food Directory will come in handy because Americans ask for the most peculiar things like Starbucks and though there's one across the road, don't understand the word 'across' but need to be taken by the hand and the place pointed out to them, he said almost robotically. One suspects he was programed by... need I say?

Raw food is very sophisticated. You can have a pizza. "How?" I boldly asked you know who. After putting it in a dehydrating appliance at not more than 40 degrees... - Fahrenheit or Celsius? - to avoid the imputation one presumes of its being cooked. Because I was questioning, Jacyntha malevolently had me eat a piece of organic chocolate despite my gluten-freak condition in hopes I'd die on the spot but I defied her, ate it and lived. It's not easy being servile and Lord Acton was absolutely right. Since the place was by then satisfactorily filling up, I kow-towed and was given permission to go. I slipped away like a boat down a slipway and had a supper of blueberries, organic yoghurt, plant cholesterol and fruit compote. And cocoa. The berries were raw.

Would it be untoward - who knew she'd read this! - to say how magnificent Jacyntha is? like a greater Atlas, bearing up twin globes, one Venus, the other Earth, though her back should break. (It should, it really should.) I don't know how I could've omitted that fact which was staring me in the face. (Will that do, do you think? I feel like Shostakovich under Stalin.... She's not going to read that, is she?)

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