Chapter 11 


It's late – I can tell from the light coming through the curtains. For a few minutes I'm as confused as anybody else is when woken by an alarm clock they didn't set. Do I have a nine to five job to rush off and do? No. Do I have a train to catch? No. 

Order returns and the world begins to make sense. Perversely, I feel happy about my visit to heaven, although I accomplished little. 

Rachel looks wonderful with her dark red hair scattered across the pillow. I'm not very familiar with morning-after procedures, as woodnymphs in heaven generally sneak away soon after sex. I think they find the company of males quite tiresome – we're only good for one thing. Yet I like the idea that Rachel is still here. 

I'm fully awake and mildly charged with adrenalin, so I decide to get up and greet the world. This entails opening the curtains slightly and staring out on to the street for no particular reason. Buddha tells me it's a suburban tradition, and as I have the front bedroom with the bay window I'm required to follow it. Normally it's a private pastime, but today when I part the curtains I get a tremendous round of applause.  

"What? There are hundreds of them!"

I'm not very good on numbers. I may be underestimating. There are so many people out in the street that there's no room for cars. At each end of the road I can see police officers at metal barriers, keeping vehicles out. 

"You're standing very close to the window," says Rachel, sleepily. 

Ah, yes. The windowsill is quite low and I'm not wearing clothes. Perhaps I should move back a step. 

The applause subsides, and once again I have that wicked temptation to move forward and see if the volume returns, and once again I give in to it. Then a step back for the muted effect, forward for volume.  

"What are you doing?" asks Rachel. 

"Morning exercises. They can't possibly be here just to see me, surely?" 

I take her silence as a yes. 

When the excitement outside has died down I put on a dressing gown and open the window to address my fans. "This is all very nice, but there's not much point in hanging around. There's no entertainment planned, we're just about to tidy up after a party, that's all. You may as well go home." 

This doesn't get much of a reaction. Actually, it doesn't get any reaction, until a lone voice replies, "No."

"But surely you've all got lives to get on with?" 

Again, no reaction, and then that same solitary voice. "No." 

"This isn't some kind of soap opera." 

"It is from where we're standing." 

Worse is to follow, as I fail to anticipate the inevitable question.  

"Where do you get your underwear?" 

I feel the questioner has carried this question around with him since early morning, like a bag of cement from a builders' yard, and is relieved to have disgorged it. 

"I really don't remember. Usually I don't wear any." 

"But you've got a sponsorship deal with Agent Provocateur. We read about it in the newspapers."

"Ah, yes. Then it must be true." 

"What football team do you support?" 

I think about this for a moment. "Crewe Alexandra." It's a memorable name. Indeed, it's the only football team name I can remember, which is why I've said it, but it doesn't seem to be a popular choice. Most of the crowd continue to stare at me blankly. A few snigger.  

"What colour shoes should we wear this summer?" 

"I have no idea. Depends on what colours suit you, I suppose." 

"What should we do about famine in Africa? Should we give money to charity, or is charity like applying a sticking plaster to a broken leg?" 


"You're not being very helpful." 

It's true that I'm not giving very good answers, but then I'm not being asked very good questions. It strikes me that the press is slightly easier to deal with, less demanding, more ready to sort the wheat in my answers from the chaff, indeed to manufacture the wheat themselves if I'm not able to come up with enough. 

I'm not sure how to bring this stuttering dialogue to a close. What would Stephanie do? 

"Listen, I have to go and help clear up after the party, now. I'll try to think up some better answers for next time. And you work on your questions." 

I close the window, knowing that the multitude outside is hardly satisfied. But then neither am I. The strange dysfunctional discussion leaves me ill at ease. I need some kind of resolution, and the only person I can think of who might be able to supply one is Stephanie, so I make my way downstairs and pick up the phone in the hallway.

 She listens patiently to my tale of mutual dissatisfaction.

"It's as if I gave all the wrong answers," I say at the end. 

"Well you did." 

"How can they be the wrong answers? I was being perfectly honest. Not about Crewe Alexandra, perhaps, but everything else was true." 

"Because you failed in your duty to your followers. These people are looking to you for leadership, for advice and direction, and you didn't give any. I can't believe what you said about shoes. You should have said pink or yellow, anything other than 'depends what suits you'. What kind of ridiculous advice is that?" 

"I can't be responsible for the way thousands of people dress and lead their lives." 

"Hundreds of thousands. And you already are. Everybody wants leadership, Peter. Well, almost everybody. It's a big responsibility, deciding what to do, how to lead a life, what to wear. Most people prefer to avoid it if they can, let somebody else make all those big decisions and then just follow them. David Beckham gets a tattoo on the back of his neck, ten thousand youths call in at the tattoo parlour and pull their shirts back. His wife wears furry boots, furry boot sales quadruple. You've got to take your leadership responsibilities seriously, Pan. Make a choice - Arsenal, Chelsea or Man U. You can't support some minor side, it's useless for the people who follow you. Tell them what to wear, where to go on their holidays. They'll love you for it. You have been telling them to wear Agent Provocateur underwear, haven't you?"

"Well, er, kind of." 

"Oh, come on, you can double their sales. Then we can look around for a sunglasses deal, maybe hats. By the way, I've got you on another TV programme, Four on Four. It's a serious panel discussion, about genetics." 

"I'm not at all sure about this fame business, Stephanie." 

"Oh, don't give me that. You love it." 

"Really, don't book me on another programme just yet, thanks." 

"It's in two days. I'll arrange a car to pick you up." 

"I don't want to go."

"Now then, sunglasses. I think with the stovepipe hat we have great poster potential here. I'll try RayBan first, then maybe Armani…" 

Stephanie carries on talking, but I don't carry on listening. This is no more satisfactory than my discussion with the crowd. Actually it's less satisfactory, since the crowd isn't on a percentage. 



Despite the ragged start to the day, there's a spring in my step and physically I'm feeling better than I have done for years. That could be down to sex, but I don't think so. I have a feeling it's somehow connected with my new popularity. Maybe fame isn't such a bad thing after all.  

In fact I'm so full of energy that I make the mistake of going to see my lawyer, who is desperate to prepare a case for my trial. He's sent me three letters to this effect, each one costing me three hundred pounds. His advice is clearly valuable and I should try to see him, especially before he sends me another letter. 

And so I make my way to Knightsbridge, where he has an office. He also has an office in Lincoln's Inn Fields, and one in Royal Tunbridge Wells, for the summer, and maybe I should be making a connection between the number of offices and the price of the letters and the cost of my trial, but I'm not, and so I roll up innocently at his office in Knightsbridge. 

 The contrast between the many districts of this metropolis still overwhelms me. I've already worked out that Cricklewood is a place where people come to sleep. In the evening there's a great influx of people intending to eat, watch TV, and bed down. They spend their active daytime hours elsewhere, except for the young and old and those who have the pleasure of looking after them. Regent Street is, I suspect, Cricklewood in reverse - busy in the daytime but deserted at night - and at first sight it looks as if Knightsbridge is where everybody goes to shop. But I'm careful not to draw my conclusions prematurely, and soon I realise that in fact it's a place where people go to look at shops, but not usually to buy anything, because all the goods are too expensive. Watching people not buying things is very educational, and teaches me more about the prevailing system of wealth than any amount of completed transactions.

My lawyer's office complex looks pleasantly exclusive, full of escalators and glass panels and equipped with a café-bar at its atrium and centre. Glamorous women ride the escalators and drink the coffee. Are they models or executives? I have a scary feeling they might be both. Either way, I'm sidetracked into three circuits of the escalators and two coffees before I remember I'm supposed to be seeing my lawyer and preparing a defence for Foxglove versus Nesmith.

At first I imagined the claim of Foxglove Laboratories couldn't amount to anything. Surely they didn't have a patent that covers half-human, half-goat creatures. But the modest research I've done is worrying. It turns out that they do, and my lawyer confirms this. He tells me they're not allowed to patent human genes, so the human side of me is relatively safe, but the goat part of me is patentable, and they have such a patent, along with scores of other patents covering partial animals. If the patent is valid, they'll own me from below the waist, and unless I decide to have myself cut in two, they'll be able to order my bottom half around and my top half will be obliged to follow. 

"But this is utterly absurd," I tell him, with some passion. 

"Clearly you are not familiar with the law," he tells me. "Otherwise this would seem to you to be merely a minor example of absurdity." 

Oddly, he reminds me of a cross between Joe Progress and Mammon. He has the unctuous charm of Joe Progress, along with Mammon's love of statement-dressing. His pink silk tie probably cost as much as my entire wardrobe, and his pristine chalk-stripe suit could have been made yesterday. For a while I wonder if it really was made yesterday, but this is mental overrun and I block it out.  

"So how are you going to defend my case?" I ask. 

"Oh, very easily. On the grounds of non-utility. Animal entities are only covered by patents if they have some clear use - some utility. The first patent of this nature was for an oncological mouse – or oncomouse – a mouse that has a genetic tendency to get cancer, so it's particularly useful for medical research. And there are other, later examples. For example a naturally asthmatic guinea-pig – clearly useful for studying asthma. But I don't believe you have any such utility." 

"You mean, the basis of my defence is that I'm completely useless." 


Some mental gymnastics are required here, but I'm able to comprehend that despite the ridiculous direction this is going, any defence is better than none, and so I give my lawyer my blessing and get up to leave his office.

"I'll need some kind of deposit, of course," he tells me. "Genetics patent cases are notoriously expensive." 

"A deposit?" 

"Yes, against legal costs." 

"How much were you thinking of?" 

"Three hundred thousand should do." 

Momentarily I forget to breathe. "Pounds?" I croak. 

"Oh no. Guineas. A re-mortgage on a house will usually cover it. You do own a house, don't you?" 

It's at this point that I notice my lawyer's collar and cuffs are white, while his shirt is blue, and his cufflinks are exceedingly large and elaborate. 

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