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14. August 2020

Via Heliograph to Mr Lush, City of Westminster



My British Lion,

after my sojourn in Zurich, I’m excited to travel again, to feel the rush of wind in my hair. My original plan was, of course, to go to Munich. However, the words and images that were evoked in the library convinced me to abandon those plans. Or was it the words of Tacitus?

Whatever it was that moved me to change my mind, I am now on my way to Ferney, the sanctuary of the brightest light, the most beautiful sun of the 18th century. In his garden, I desire to learn the joys of rambling.

I would like to use my time in the choochoo train to describe a recent visit to the Crix Crax Bar. A small bar with wood furnishings and a pink ceiling, it’s a meeting place for many a good-natured Swiss. The bar stools are uncomfortable and squeaky and enough patrons puff on cigars and cigarettes to smoke a whole ham. You would have adored the music in the place. Not a single song that couldn’t have been played as the Titanic was sinking. A Prince of Wales was served in a silver cup in the shape of a goblet. The glasses were as small as priceless porcellan cups from the Ming Dynasty. Though the drinks are of excellent quality, the prices remind one of encounters with Dick Turpin.

Special mention must go the restrooms. I would suggest that they have not been renovated since the days of our beloved George VI. However, the highlight is most certainly our host himself. He gives one the impression not simply of a chef de bar but also of a wandering minstrel. His pudgy face is clean-shaven and his hair is short but neatly coiffed. His voice is that of a preacher. 

With remarkable oratory skill, he recited lines from poets good and great, recalled with perfection from his eidetic memory. He is noticeably incapable of even a single original thought, idea, or image. Most of the patrons were spellbound by this regurgitator of foreign phrases, as if they had never read a word of it themselves. His most endearing touch was the long gold chain he wore around his neck, adorned with a large cross. Simply divine how he could connect this thespian skill with his faith. This man is no mere poet but a true believer. What exactly he believes in is unclear, of course. I suspect the collection tray is the icon he venerates most.

After his performance had ended, a few guests asked him to give his opinions on the political topics du jour. He lamented the current state of affairs. ‘Only the great minds should make the decisions. The average person can barely count to four. It should be the elites and the specialists who solve the problems caused by the common rabble. They alone are immune to the poison of party politics.’ He went on in this manner for some time. Much to my amusement, when he had finally finished, he received his first standing ovation of the night. The citizenry of a republic clamouring to be the pallbearers of democracy.

Just as there are many strange places, there are many strange faces, brains, and many a strange concoction of the mind. This particular potion I cannot say that I wish to drink. Many wizards are there in Oz and without. There are many scarecrows but scarcely enough brains. Armour is what is needed. In that spirit, I recommend that you read The Open Society and its Enemies by Karl Popper. I can already see your grimace in my mind’s eye. Yes, it’s a work of philosophy and yes, there are two volumes. However, these works contain a vaccine against wizards and false prophets.

The choochoo train is arriving at the station of Bellegarde-sur-Valserine. I must go now, Lush, for I have promises to keep and a short drive to Ferney before I sleep. Tomorrow, I will wander the paths of Voltaire and rid myself of the ghosts of Zurich.