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.The idea of him actually having friends as such seemed not somuch unlikely, more a sort of mismatching of concepts, like the idea ofthe Suez crisis popping out for a bun.Svlad Cjelli.Popularly known as Dirk, though, again, “popular”was hardly right.Notorious, certainly; sought after, endlesslyspeculated about, those too were true.But popular? Only in the sensethat a serious accident on the motorway might be popular — everyoneslows down to have a good look, but no one will get too close to theflames.Infamous was more like it.Svlad Cjelli, infamously known asDirk.He was rounder than the average undergraduate and wore more hats.That is to say, there was just the one hat which he habitually wore,but he wore it with a passion that was rare in one so young.The hatwas dark red and round, with a very flat brim, and it appeared to moveas if balanced on gimbals, which ensured its perfect horizontality atall times, however its owner moved his head.As a hat it was aremarkable rather than entirely successful piece of persona!decoration.It would make an elegant adornment, stylish, shapely andflattering, if the wearer were a small bedside lamp, but not otherwise.People gravitated around him, drawn in by the stories he deniedabout himself, but what the source of these stories might be, if nothis own denials, was never entirely clear.The tales had to do with the psychic powers that he’d supposedlyinherited from his mother’s side of the family who he claimed, hadlived at the smarter end of Transylvania.That is to say, he didn’tmake any such claim at all, and said it was the most absurd nonsense.He strenuously denied that there were bats of any kind at all in hisfamily and threatened to sue anybody who put about such maliciousfabrications, but he affected nevertheless to wear a large and flappyleather coat, and had one of those machines in his room which are supposed to help cure bad backs if you hang upside down from them.Hewould allow people to discover him hanging from this machine at allkinds of odd hours of the day, and more particularly of the night,expressly so that he could vigorously deny that it had any significancewhatsoever.By means of an ingenious series of strategically deployed denialsof the most exciting and exotic things, he was able to create the myththat he was a psychic, mystic, telepathic, fey, clairvoyant,psychosassic vampire bat.What did “psychosassic” mean?It was his own word and he vigorously denied that it meantanything at all.“And from this chasm, with ceaseless turmoil seething,As if this earth in fast thick pants were breathing,A mighty fountain momently was forced:Amid whose swift half-intermitted burstHuge fragments vaulted…”Dirk had also been perpetually broke.This would change.It was his room-mate who started it, a credulous fellow calledMander, who, if the truth were known, had probably been speciallyselected by Dirk for his credulity.Steve Mander noticed that if ever Dirk went to bed drunk he would talk in his sleep.Not only that, but the sort of things he would sayin his sleep would be things like, “The opening up of trade routes tothe mumble mumble burble was the turning point for the growth of empirein the snore footle mumble.Discuss.”“…like rebounding hail,Or chaffy grain beneath the thresher’s flail:”The first time this happened Steve Mander sat bolt upright inbed.This was shortly before prelim exams in the second year, and whatDirk had just said, or judiciously mumbled, sounded remarkably like avery likely question in the Economic History paper.Mander quietly got up, crossed over to Dirk’s bed and listenedvery hard, but other than a few completely disconnected mumblings aboutSchleswig-Holstein and the Franco-Prussian war, the latter beinglargely directed by Dirk into his pillow, he learned nothing more.News, however, spread — quietly, discreetly, and like wildfire.“And “mid these dancing rocks at once and everIt flung up momently the sacred river.”For the next month Dirk found himself being constantly wined anddined in the hope that he would sleep very soundly that night anddream-speak a few more exam questions.Remarkably, it seemed that thebetter he was fed, and the finer the vintage of the wine he was givento drink, the less he would tend to sleep facing directly into hispillow [ Pobierz całość w formacie PDF ]