Mother would insist on two things, my playing the doodle-sack and her speaking French. Both were problematic. Of course, one had a rather jolly time as a youth in the incessant push and pull of her and father’s rather acrimonious custody battle. Father’s determination was the prevent the ‘Parisian Whore’ gaining anything but the most brief of custodial periods. Yes, indeed, courts always remind me of the rather jolly times when one or the other would enter the dock and under oath profess their ‘interest’ in me. I always regard this, and not their private actions(1) as revealing their true feelings.

During one of the “temporary legal setbacks” which had seen me return to mother’s apartment in the VIth androissiment (she was, as Father said, “screwing some Ponce from some Frog Ministry”) I made my first acquaintance with the hated doodle-sack. Allow me to digress. The doodle-sack, or as mother called it the sac-doodelle (mon pee-pee) was brought into the country sometime before my birth (and that of my younger brother) for reasons which are still, to me, unknown. It appears to be modeled largely on some form of sporting equipment from a southern hemisphere (my third favourite hemisphere), a hybrid of the cock-shuttle and the medicine ball.

In these days I believed it to have been a manufacture of the inquisitive goblins whom father had appointed to observe me through the two way mirror in the bathroom, that they may best monitor the imposition of wickedness which I was want to cause on myself (although today I feel the story to be somewhat fanciful – and believe father’s loyal goblins to have been nothing more than a metaphor for his prized camcorder (Betamax MX3).

I knew little of music (even less of sports) in those halcyon days of my incontinent(2) youth. But as the parson had often detained me after Sunday School, eager to translate the braggadocio with which I would describe stepmother's figurations (not to mention my speculations as to her worldliness) into a vigorous interest in his choir, I had picked up a little. I believe he was later to become famous for his dispositions towards his choristers, although this was about as much as I could gather from the rather sweaty innuendo and naughty-talk which that policeman who informed me of this was full of (“I can't believe what he did to you” was his rather non-sequitous cry as I offered to show him the old super 8 tapes of Stepmother in her prime).

Communication with mother was impossible. The ever faithful goblins had once reported to my father my singing of a jaunty allouetta while in the bath (a double blow – they would also chastise the thoroughness of my soaping) and since on that day when he swore he would beat that vile tongue out of me and feed it to his osprey (was this another metaphor? I never saw any birds of prey), I had limited my interaction with mother and indeed any of her countrymen to gazing into the middle distance and intermittently nodding.

When the custody battles happened to swing by the French courts this idiosyncratic gesture would have me legally pronounced “an idiot” (their emphasis on the prefix 'an' seems so much crueller than the more clinical 'idiotic' which I generally receive in these Isles). I have since always found the language of the French courts to be somewhat brutal, not to mention standoffish (although the technique would later work to my advantage after the ill-fated pilgrimage to mother’s grave (the asylum was pleasant and I am led to believe their prisons - of which there was some talk - are quite bloody appalling)). The nicest thing father had ever done was purchase Ruprecht – a stuffed basset hound which he had trained to diligently watch me in the night and prevent the rather dramatic entries of Cyril, his twin brother, who would turn up inebriated and watch me sleep. He was always to claim it was for my own benefit though was generally disconcerted by the whole procedure – the noises he would make made me doubt the supposed benevolence of his intention to see me at repose (I was never to see Cyril, except in these late night encounters when he would come round (smelling of gin) after I had gone to bed, to see father (who had generally been drinking heavily o such occasions (quite incredibly they were twins and always even wore the same clothes – this quite tickled me!))).

However, Mother immediately confiscated Ruprecht upon my arrival in Paris and forced me to sleep with the ghastly airbag, the doodle-sack, which would emit it’s terrifying cry as I shuffled around in the night, terrified and waiting for Cyril’s inevitable arrival. She seemed to believe that, as I sat, hunched over in the chair in the Minister's drawing room crying into the cursed fabric of that evil sack, that I was somehow communicating with her emotionally. She would call it the special time with her little one, even as she sat and tormented me there, with the despicable half smile of the cuckold playing about her lips.

Still the matter is not wholly undesirable – every time the various psychiatrists have since advised me to begin weeping, I merely imagine that ghastly air womb to be in my hands. Since my youth I have had two reoccurring dreams. One is of father and mother dancing together in that drawing room while I watch from a comfortable vantage point on the back of an octopus. The other is of me doing unspeakable things to the octopus.

  1. Generally ineluctable, though various degrees of coldness
  2. As far as my understanding goes, this means when I was abroad. Father would never properly explain, beyond symbolic acts of violence (of all categories (which one is wont to repress)).