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’.
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.