Tuesday, 3 April 2012

If I Remember Right

"When crocodiles lie thus with open jaws, small shore birds, especially waders of the sandpiper kind, which are always running about on the banks in search of food, enter the huge reptiles' mouths to capture any such small fry as may have sought refuge among the teeth or in the folds of the mucous membrane of the mouth or pharynx. Indeed, if I remember right, I have witnessed the thing myself; but now as I write I cannot feel quite sure that it was not one of many stories told me by my men."
                                    Odoardo Beccari, Wanderings in the Great Forests of Borneo

In the summer of 1982 Gospodin Stotinki was a regular visitor to the Bournemouth home of American diarist Anna Kronis. During long dinners with the Mississippi socialite and her adoring circle, he had noticed her tendency to back up her reminiscences with reference to her diaries. An avid diarist himself, Stotinki decided to replace her entire diary for the year 1971 with a plausibly modified version of his own. Perfecting her handwriting style, he recopied his own experiences into a blank volume and, after leaving the book in a cage of crickets to give it a suitably aged appearance, he returned it to her shelves. Guided to that year by after-dinner conversation, she began to describe the events therein with such vivid clarity that Stotinki soon came to doubt whether it had been he or she who had actually spent that year travelling the Breton peninsula in search of forgotten ancient monuments. One evening she produced a photograph clearly showing Stotinki and his mysterious associate Heron beneath the 'Champignon' of Huelgoat forest. Feeling certain that he had not referred to this incident in the diary, he attempted to remember who had taken the photograph. It was her.

 Surely they would not meet until five years later.