meandering monologue, or none. Here, at least, you should be safe from it, if anywhere. Your ankles itch beneath their heavy woollen socks. The tan Doc Martens boots feel positively puddled with perspiration. The body approaches its crisis – should you be hoping for an expiation of sins? Des villages heureux animaient les rives dominées par les burgs centenaires et les vignes rhénanes étalaient à l’infni leur mosaïque régulière et précieuse. “Happy villages animated the banks dominated by century-old castles” – miserable old suburbs burdened the slopes dominated by a thirty-year-old motorway system – “and the Rhenish vines extended their precise and regular mosaic to infinity.” Steel-shuttered bottle-shops displayed their graffiti-clad corrugations to disappointed late-night revellers: revellers bound for here, for the nettled undergrowth of the gully.

The sense of peril has not abated – an exodus threatened by every shift of that rippling back, those bony thighs – and yet some progress has undoubtedly been made. Another test, another examination, another assessment of some kind of strange achievement. Can you think of tree-alphabets, do arithmetic problems in your head, translate half-remembered fragments of French prose, long enough to climb Mount Moriah? To what end, really? So that we can all sleep?

Quand Mony se retourna, il vit le sinistre Cornabœuf assis sur le visage d’Estelle. Son cul de colosse couvrait la face de l’actrice. Il avait chié et la merde infecte et molle tombait de tous côtés.

Oh, the filthy, filthy brute! Poor Estelle, whose only crime had been to strangle her maid in the ecstasies of mutual cunnilingus. No-one should be made to translate that, in your opinion. You’re not as bad as that, even if you are in the city’s oldest graveyard at the darkest time of the night, performing the act of sodomy on a convenient gravestone, with a svelte young sprite, whose very sex seemed ambiguous until a moment or so ago.

Il tenait un énorme couteau et en labourait le ventre palpitant. Le corps de l’actrice avait des soubresauts brefs. … “His immense knife was stabbing into her living flesh.” Yes, it is hard, achingly hard, which is more than you expected to achieve at first, when approached. That agonising over-excitement which is so fatal to so difficult an enterprise, so profound a challenge, to penetrate the elastic walls of an organ which defends itself so sedulously from intrusion. “The actress’s body jerked galvanically.” You are disgusting! You’ve pulled up the ripped black T-shirt, and are kissing the malodorous shoulderblades and neck-muscles of your … companion in crime; your hands control those smooth brown

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