Margery Harridan, New York Times
After a lengthy process of inquiry and many false leads and disappointments I finally managed to track Glands down to one of his favourite haunts. The initial investigation to locate this paragon of the ‘other’ was somewhat complicated – involving midnight telephone calls in swahili, rituals involving small numbered pieces of green paper, submitting photographs of pangolins and huntsman spiders, memorising the scripts of several Woody Allen films, supplying a list of my three favourite brands of plasticine and a sample of my dentist’s DNA – just to list a few of the tasks involved. Eventually a purple envelope was delivered, embossed with the ‘Glz’ crest and containing a DVD featuring one of Glands’ (nude) secretaries, who confirmed my right to an interview if I was able to track Glands down to an unspecified location in Eastern Australia. The shivering young woman further indicated the specific modes of dress, speech, abasement and flattery that I should use during the interview if I expected to be received with anything more than a surly grunt.
After searching in eastern Australia for several months without success I eventually called into a cafe in Merimbula ( a NSW south coastal town) for refreshment. After a while I noticed that another customer was reverently addressed by the staff as ‘Glands’ or ‘Glandzy’, and realised that serendipity had directed me to my quarry. I also appreciated the reason for my previous difficulty in locating him, as in no way did this person resemble the popular image of Glands as broadcast by his publicity department. Whereas I had been looking for a handsome, powerfully built man in his early thirties with a commanding presence and a luxurious head of hair, I was hardly prepared for the stark reality of the Glands visage and demeanour, which I won’t attempt to describe here. Suffice to say that the Glands’ appeal and charm resides mostly in the graceful mannerisms of his index fingers and in the sonorous sound of his breathing.
Remembering his secretary’s advice, I adopted a pose of breathless admiration and approached Glands with a suggestive jiggling of the knees and other prescribed mannerisms. Glands welcomed my advances and flattery and soon agreed to an interview, on condition that he could edit all adverbs used in the article before it was published.
My first question to Glands concerned his views on the current international crisis. Glands: “Well, mmm,…umph” he pondered, sucking froth from his latte, “I believe that resolution of the current situation will only occur when the various parties involved have finally reached mutual agreement” he stated. “Furthermore”, he continued, ears wiggling didactically, ” the potentially dire consequences to the world of an erroneous decision must be kept from the general public. And I don’t believe that teaching burramys possums to squeak the ‘Ding Dong’ song in Db will have anything more than a passing effect on the transatlantic alignment of beach polychaetes.” He leaned back, looking at me smugly, with a slight tick of his right eyebrow.
Realising that Glands was discoursing on a different topic than the one I had raised, I rephrased my question, making particular reference to the international state of the arms/trade/financial/ethnic/talk show dilemma. Glands was surprised at this and expressed ignorance of these issues, considering them to be beneath his attention. When I urged him to further expand on the subject that he been discussing he refused, stating, with an air of mystery, that thinking about reality forced his toenails to grow inwards.
Somewhat discouraged by this fracas, I smoothly segued to a discussion of Glands’ famous unreleased hit music recordings. “They are rather good, aren’t they?” said Glands). I replied that as I, and nearly everyone else, had never heard these proported masterpieces I could offer no opinion. “But look at how well they’ve done on the charts – why, ten no.1s in a row, with bullets!” I acknowledged Glands’ fantastic success and he on went to state ” that one doesn’t need to experience a work of art to know its true value, only to be cognisant of its economic and popular success to gauge an accurate index of its profundity and relevance”. I tactfully agreed with this concept of course, being fully aware of the phenomenal success of Glands’ musical compositions, not even the titles of which are known to more than handful of the Glands cognoscenti. Upon my asking if there were to be any further unknown unreleased hit recordings he said “no comment”, smiling fatuously. And, although I pressed him, Glands also refused to comment on the rumours circulating about his latest film, said to be an 18 hour long silent documentary filmed in utter dark and based on the significant events of his life, so far.
About this time Glands produced a coffee table book displaying thousands of views of the internal walls of his fabulous apartment. This National Treasure is well known and studied of course and has been the subject of many learned dissertations and doctorates across the disciplines of art history, aesthetics, post pre-post synergistic modernism, arachnology and sanitary acrobatics. He then preceded to play on his iPad Sir David Attenborough’s award-winning wildlife documentary on the ecological community living in Glands’ apartment, featuring the Green Scorpions That Live Under The Sink. Having been immersed in this subject ad nauseam for a number of years (my ex-husband’s professorship was based on his authoritative knowledge of the ‘Glands Flat Phenomenon’) I was startled out of a bored reverie by enthusiastic applause from the cafe staff and patrons at the program’s conclusion. Glands returned sometime later, having taken the opportunity to do some fishing and assassinate a loquacious relative.
I now used this opportunity to ask Glands to describe his famously reported meeting with ‘X’ (well-known international personality) in 1989, an event which some claim to have dramatically altered the course of world events. Glands was at first reticent to discuss ‘X’, being more interested in dwelling on his own achievements, but, after being reassured that I would offer numerous sycophantic expletives during his discourse, agreed to describe this momentous event.
‘X’, as Glands described him, at the time of their meeting was basking in the glory of his recent simultaneous Nobel Prizes for Peace and Economics, as well as his triumph at the Oscars the year before (awards in 42 categories). In Glands’ words: “The poor fellow, I took pity on him and tried to relax him as much as possible. You see, much like yourself, he was so overwhelmed at meeting me that his hands were trembling and he could hardly even utter a word. Even so, after I’d turned my irresistible charm on him, he quickly relaxed and even became quite garrulous for a while, punctuating my monologue with small chirrups of gratitude and pleasure, before eventually falling asleep in his chair. Anyway, to condense our two minute conversation, I advised him about where to buy socks, lectured to him on the most rewarding ways of thinking about trees and further urged ‘X’ to adopt feng shui techniques with his current mistress”.
“Yes, yes” said Glands, noticing my journalistic expression, “we also discussed the international situation, during which I advised ‘X’ to manoeuvre Ireland into declaring war on New Zealand as an adroit means of tricking China into relinquishing its stranglehold on the world supply of television remote controllers, a dire situation that at that time that was threatening to destabilise western civilisation. A serious situation, indeed” Glands continued portentously,” “but after ‘X’ scrupulously followed my advice, the possibility of World War VII was avoided. Unfortunately X failed to follow my other suggestions about ensuring that shoelaces were included in the UN’s shipment of bananas to Cuba, and so it is now inevitable that we’ll have to endure World Wars III – VI. But WW VII is definitely off. I’m not so sure about WW VIII, though”.
I then cautiously raised the often mentioned criticism that there is no official record of ‘X’ having actually met Glands, nor is there any mention of Glands in ‘X’s copious and frequently published memoirs. While I asked this question some papers inadvertently dropped out of my briefcase, including a photograph of ‘X’. After glancing at the famous image of the African statesman (the one where he’s wrestling an aardvark), Glands declared it have been taken in 1925 and depicted Bootsmouth Flabberpick, an early US bluesman and originator of the Shimmy and Hucklebuck, in the act of tuning a wolverine bagpipe. Upon my advising Glands to the contrary, he laughed nasally and assured me that the Bootsmouth identity was one of ‘X’s more subtle disguises. Having met ‘X’, he could authoritatively describe him as resembling an unemployed Icelandic farm labourer living out the back of the Booroowa Hotel, New South Wales. Anyway, wolverines and aardvarks have a similar look in their eyes. Seeing that this topic was also becoming occluded in a characteristically Glands way, I moved on to my next question.
Gland’s lack of literary awards is famous and his latest book has received the usual critical attention. “Sesquipedalian to a fault”; “Polysyllabic, yet unencumbered by relevance”; “An obdurate morass of confused inanity”; “A great log-jam of offensive inconsequentiality”; “My wife liked it” – these are typical reviews by the literary press, indicative of the artistic merit and intellectual achievement of Glands’ typically massive tome.
I asked Glands to describe the process he used to create such literature. “Well first you have to have lived, really lived. Down in the mire. And to have lost. Lost everything. And to have failed, utterly. To have been abandoned by everyone: friends, family, strangers, ticks and leeches, Mormons. To be completely ostracised by civilised society. Even dogs refuse to urinate on your leg. And then you must work, work, work, until the puss runs out of your ears. Only then can you really create. Or at least that’s what they say. For myself, I’ve only ever experienced bland unending happiness and ease. I’ve made it my lifetime’s work to pursue the superficial and trivial. But I’ve read quite a lot in newspapers and on Wikipedia about those who have suffered. So I know. I can talk with the authority of deep reflection”. I asked Glands to describe how he managed to forge such forgettable characters and tedious plots with a characteristic lack of insight. “Oh, mostly I just copy what some else has written and change it a bit. That’s the best way. Its what everyone else does, right?”
I noticed that Glands was now learing at me, and realised that what I had taken to be a small furry animal nuzzling my thigh was actually a probing slipper at the end of a knobbly Glands leg. I was shocked at this, or pretended to be, and immediately responded by asking Glands to explain his controversial views on feminism. Glands stared vapidly at me for a while and then proceeded to count the different species of flies resting on the windows of the Merimbula cafe. “Don’t be flippant!” I snapped, at which point Glands immediately terminated the interview, after first securing my written agreement to accompany him on a quasi-erotic sojourn through the Carpathian Mountains the following March, in return for a considerable sum of money (and all expenses paid).
So went my only formal interview with Glands, although later we had many casual conversations and disagreements, or what might pass for the same in normal society.