GUEST POST: Tummywumps

I was perusing the diary of Tummywumps, the orange tabby with whom I reside, when I came across the following half-decent poem. I never took her for a cat with literary ambitions. She’s full of surprises…




FLASH FICTION: “The Theory of Gin”


I’m not in the mood to talk. I don’t feel like talking.

After his breakdown, Dad played the piano when he was drunk, only. When he was too drunk to play Liszt, he played Chopin. I sat under the piano. It was damn loud under there, but I liked it. I was listening to the Ramones, in those days.

Dad was a mad scientist. He was a musicologist. He was a mad scientist. He thought … there was something mathematical about creativity, musical creativity. A formula. There were no geniuses, really, but people, lucky people, who chanced on the formula. Berlioz, Strauss…

“Imposters,” he called them. “Worse than impostors. Romantics.”

The Secret of the Secret. That’s what he named it. His theory of the formula. He spent half his life, trying to prove it.

The Secret of the Secret. That was the book, too. His colleagues… Of course they called him a lunatic. He was a lunatic. He was a musicologist.

When The Secret flopped, he bought every copy he could find. And burned them.

I just don’t feel like talking.

I was playing the piano, one night. Wagner—my favourite. By my late teens, I’d grown bored of punk. It wasn’t heavy enough.

Ride of the Valkyries. That was the piece.

I smelled gin. Dad hated Wagner.

I turned around.

Dad wasn’t… He had a strange look on his face.

He closed his eyes.

“Beautiful,” he whispered.



He kissed me—my forehead. I think … that was the first time. In years.

The Secret of the Secret.

He never proved it, of course. The theory. All he proved was the Theory of Gin. That’s how it usually is, isn’t it?

I’d rather not talk about it.

Hardly anyone went to the funeral. Not even my mother. None of his colleagues. He was an important musicologist. He was a mad scientist. He was a musicologist.

I found a notebook. Going through his things. Notes about the theory, mostly. Some lewd sketches. But on the last page… Under the heading AUTOBIOGRAPHY:

“Early in life, my ambition was to be a composer as great as Liszt or Chopin.”

That was it. He didn’t get any further.

It’s not easy, being the daughter of a musicologist. I could tell you stories.

I’m not in the mood to talk.



Rolli Stuff

I am a nightingale. I’m fairly certain. I enjoy singing, and when I sing, it’s generally dark out.

I lived in the city for the first year, but it was so noisy. I had to sing twice as loud, for anyone to hear. This was hard on the syrinx.

It’s an improvement, the country. The air is better. Thicker. More trees. Nice, thick bushes. I live in a bush behind Børglum Abbey. It’s pretty nice, as far as bushes go.

Monks are a peculiar species. Their song is melancholy. Brother Geestvaas walked over a cliff. Brother Godslee stopped eating. He shrunk down to the size of a child. The brothers carried him outside, and threw him in the sea. But … it didn’t revive him.

They aren’t like the city men, always moving, too busy to wonder whether they’re happy or not. They are still and sad. Like hurt birds.

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Rolli Stuff

God pulled Mom up through the ceiling. Her necklace fell down and her white dress floated down. Nothing else came down.

I put on Mom’s dress and her gold necklace. There’s two stools in the living room, I pushed the one stool into the bathroom and stood on it and looked in the mirror. I looked like my mom but littler. My hair was messier. The dress looked pretty big. I looked like the egg yellow in the middle of a spread-out egg.

Then I got down and pushed the stool back to the living room. Then I sat the other stool on top of it. Then I put two pillows on top of that. When my tower’s done I can climb up through the ceiling too.

I am not scared. I just really miss my mom.


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