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Via Snail Mail to Mr Lush, City of Westminster



Caro amico e umano,

It has been quite some time since you last heard from me. My apologies. Allow me to make amends by jotting down some thoughts for you here.

After Venice, I slowly and ever more slowly made my way through a country that is stricken with suffering, pain, and death. Wherever you look, you see crying children. Nonna e nonno are no more. Bergamo was worst of all: I saw cats in mourning for the humans who should have been serving them. What a loss of loving and friendly people. No salvation in the streets, the houses, the homes; only silent pain. There are those who speak of this as of a common cold. Let those people be rewarded for their cowardice with abolitio nominis.

I suppose you are asking yourself what I am even doing in this part of the world. In fact, I was on my way to Tegna in Switzerland and so had to pass through Bergamo. A city of such charm and light ravaged by pestilence. La povera Italia piange.

As I said, I was on my way to Tegna, to pay my respect to a priestess of Bastet and to learn more of that Goddess. As I left Bergamo behind and closed in on the mountains, my heart grew lighter and I jumped for joy at the sight of cows and sheep. Switzerland, my old flame.

The train crosses a wild and romantic river on the Ponte Brolla. Just seeing that water left me refreshed and, as I stepped out of the train at my destination, I couldn’t quite hold back a short meow of joy. Home at last?

The village itself is (somewhat ironically) nothing to write home about. Lots of fieldstone walls and a couple of pastel-coloured houses. It was not difficult to find the way to the House of Eternity. Right past the church tower and the iron gate I went. Just a few more steps and I had reached the columbarium. To find what I was looking for, I still had a bit of work to do. However, there it was, in the top corner on the right side, the nameplate hidden by flowers (oh, how she hated flowers!), the priestess’ urn.

How many years had I spent in the company of her words? Immersed in a vision of the truly quotidian that was illuminated like the works of Andrea Mantegna. A cigarette case, a visit to the newsagent, a short trip in the countryside. And, of course, a murder or two. The descriptions of her characters’ emotions are as lucid as her observations are dry, and yet, the stories contain the mystery of the songs from one’s childhood.

She speaks of there being nothing so stimulating for the imagination as the assumption that anyone one might encounter could be a sadist, a serial thief, or even a murderer. What delight must there be in strolling hand-in-hand with such a mind, always ready to explore the deepest depths of human depravity at the next street corner. Alas, she is no more and we shall never again stroll with her. We are left with Tom Ripley for eternity. What an expression of posture and style. Oh, Lush, even you must admit that there is something there to be emulated.

I hope this message finds you well. Before I go, a reading recommendation: The Animal-Lover’s Book of Beastly Murder. Personal highlights include a cat called Ming and a certain particularly honourable cockroach.

Do send me a note by snail mail some time, my dear Lush.