A Way of Dreaming

Letter From London

Another eventful night at Aspinalls, and, somewhere between four in the morning and daybreak, for the thousandth time, I catch myself asking the same thing.  How do I explain to a normal person, to a disinterested layman who has never walked down Curzon Street, what goes on in the gambler’s soul?  Doubtless this can be done, but as with just about every difficult question worth pondering, it would be best to begin somewhere far afield.  At any rate, it would be good to begin somewhere, which is always the toughest part for anybody who wants to tell the whole perplexing truth, especially when what he’s used to telling, for the most part, are the facile lies gangsters slip their molls in old movies.  

There are people who spend their whole life in a state of agitation that they perceive as sexual, but which a detached onlooker regards as sad, mad, and manipulative.  While a university student, I once had dinner with an inordinately plain woman whom her elderly mother, an internationally known scholar of Old English and among the few professors to give me the time of day, had implored me to meet.  At the close of the evening, I had to throw the cunning madwoman out of my rooms by force and lead her across the road to her Volkswagen Beetle with her arms behind her back, like a prisoner.  The car wouldn’t start, of course, and, for the rest of my life, I shall treasure the malodorous...

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