Dear Reader,

Janice called me at 2am last night sobbing something about it being the End of Days.

‘Dr Ada!’, she exclaimed. ‘It is the end of the university’s financial year tomorrow, and I have just got round to doing the books! Not only is there an underspend against the IT budget, there is an enormous black hole in your personal research fund. It is as though someone has been using the departmental credit card to buy fripperies and extravagances for their personal benefit!’

‘Never mind the research fund’, I said, stroking my vicuña smoking jacket and adjusting the Persian kilim cushion on which I was resting. ‘We must focus on the IT budget. Clearly, Darren is to blame.* I shall address the underspend in the morning.’

And so you find me now at Taizhou market, dear Reader, where I am told a person may buy almost anything.

Miniature dictionary in hand, I pick my way through rows of indescribable pickled items.

I pause for a moment to get my bearings. A woman standing near a stall of small gerbil-like creatures** watches me.

I point in my dictionary at an exploded diagram showing computer parts.

‘I want one of these’, I say, loudly and clearly. ‘A 鼠.’

‘说请’, she says.

‘Make it so’, I say. (Confidence is the key to successful communication in any language, dear Reader).

The woman disappears for a moment, and then reappears carrying a small, giftwrapped box with little holes in it.

I return to campus, triumphant, and hand the box to Janice.

‘Here is your mouse, dear Janice’, I say. ‘I’m sure it will be easy to connect. Darren used to do it all the time’.

Dear Reader.

I was just slipping on my silk mules when I heard a scream.

It was Janice, dear Reader.

It seems I have bought the wrong kind of mouse.


* Indeed – dear, dear Darren is still missing.

** This is not a market in Islington, dear Reader.


10 thoughts on “End of Days

  1. Clearly the problem lies in a mistranslation from the original classical high Cantonese. The correct translation was mousse, not mouse. This would naturally explain Janice’s anguished cry – if that is indeed what it was: it could also have been a cry of serendipitous delight that she had at last acquired a substance with which she could not only wash her hair but also consume after a late-night pot noodle.

  2. Dear Ada, you are so brave, venturing to a market all by yourself. It is no wonder that an unscrupulous person took advantage of your good nature, your innocent attitude, your trusting approach to life, and sold you a cordless mouse. Poor Darren always preferred the retro style.

    1. At last, I said to myself, dear Speccy – at last! A Reader of Calibre. A Perspicacious Reader. A Reader Who Understands Me. How delightful to have you with us, my dear, offering us your insights on rattus cordlus.

  3. Perhaps the vendor did not hear you aright. Perhaps, next time you could raise your voice a few decibels and speak very slowly. I have found that to be an effective tool when communicating in foreign countries.

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