PM Question Time #7: with the Trader in Fat Cat Paperweights
Another instalment in the ongoing series of interviews that the Postmodern Mariner held with the eight Sea of Tea Pirates...
The seventh conversation is with the pirate of the eastern zone, Captain Dangleglum, and this is how it goes:
PM: Do piracy and trade go hand in hand?
CD: They go hook in claw instead, that's the truth, but I do regard myself as a hybrid of both: a private enterprise privateer. I can't call myself an aggrandizing entrepreneur because I don't know how to spell those words. I have been known to fleece my victims of everything they own and then sell it all back to them at competitive rates.
PM: Are you in receipt of any kind of grant for your work?
CD: I'm not. I believe in looking after myself and not relying on handouts. I have a nose for existing gaps in the market, and when those gaps simply aren't there I have a cutlass to make them, then I thrust my nose into the gap before it heals.
PM: You once traded in fat cat paperweights?
CD: Yes, in a story entitled 'The Man Who Threw His Voice', but in fact I was conveying ordinary cats and yoghurt on the same ship; it was only after those cats reprehensibly, though somewhat inevitably, consumed all the yoghurt that they became fat. Then I sold them as paperweights in the nearest port. It wasn't a deliberate product.
PM: You also dabbled with rain?
CD: I dribbled with it. I bought a downpour for a mermaid. I trade in anything under the sun, clouds included, and I will piratize anything under those clouds, even shadows. And yet I'm not cruel or vindictive. As buccaneers go, I'm one of the milder ones.
PM: How do you enjoy sailing on the Sea of Tea?
CD: It has its special moments, also its hours of tedium. Elevenses are nice. But I pass even the uneventful days pleasantly enough. I make sundials. I'm working on a moondial now: a much more complex creation. I know what you're going to say! The moon that hangs over the stewed ocean on which I float is actually a gigantic ginger biscuit. How can the reflected light of a ginger biscuit accurately tell the time?
PM: That question did cross my mind…
CD: Foolish man! Don't ever underestimate the power of biscuits! How might a biscuit unite the warring states of Italy? And yet Garibaldi did! So it's perfectly feasible that one might be able to indicate the hour at any time of night. Nonetheless, I am not obsessed with my time-keeping instruments. I have other hobbies too. I fill empty suits of armour with coal and set them on fire. They flex and glow and sometimes march across my deck leaving footprints of charred wood, then I push them over the side with a long pole and watch them hiss and sink in the tea!
PM: A worthwhile pursuit.
CD: I also indulge in intense naivety. Oh yes. I assume that sociopaths cure sociologists; that Nietzsche's 'superman' wore a red cape and red shorts; that pesto is a poison for insects; that Brunei is in the Middle East near Dubai; that chillies come from Chile; that oil slicks are dead rainbows fallen out of the sky; that steelworks with belching chimneys are cloud factories.
PM: Are you overfond of clouds?
CD: Overlooked by them.
PM: Can an overtone have undercurrents?
CD: The worst current I was ever caught in was just off the Isle of Garket. It was the dreaded Garket Flow! I didn't know where it would take me, but then I saw a sheet of paper floating past and I hooked it out and examined it. That sheet of paper informed me that the current would carry me to a pleasant place and so I lost all my anxiety.
PM: You mean to say that…
CD: That's right. I spotted a map in the Garket.