One hot afternoon, whilst struggling with an anthology of South American poetry, I receive a telephone call from a friend. I am invited to a garden party, to take place that evening. Relieved to be dragged away from the largely
incomprehensible verse of Chile, I get changed, pour myself a large whisky, and
stare for some time at the roof-tops visible from my room. The evening comes, and I stroll over to the party.
The smell of a barbecue, the chatter of voices in the summer air, and the sight of a full table of wine bottles fills me with a childlike glee, which I conceal for the sake of propriety. I spot a number of old friends and colleagues, and mingle with ease. Birds sing, audible during short lulls in conversation. After several large glasses of wine, my bladder begins to feel a little uncomfortable, and I saunter off in search of
the lavatory. After urinating, I drop a sheet of toilet paper into the bowl,
the sight of tissue succumbing to water always being one of my minor pleasures in life.
I return to the party, but during my brief absence my friends have apparently been replaced by zombie doll-creatures from some long-forgotten nightmare. They look the same as ever, but exude evil. Something is dreadfully wrong.
They fail to notice me, so I scurry back into the toilet and stand, with my
head resting on the cool tiles. I come to the relentlessly adult conclusion
that I must have imagined something nasty, and that all I need to do is go back
out there and continue with this lovely party. Reluctantly, I return to the
garden, but this time the zombies have mutated once more into slavering
hell-hounds with five eyes. With a rising moan, I turn and crash through the
fence, trailing broken trellis, wreathed with nasturtiums. I awake in hospital,
wondering exactly what it is that has conspired to make my life so patently