La Maison Verte, South of France
After three or so days the evenings fall into a predictable pattern. Lounging in a circle, variously fitted into alarmingly shaped furniture, the soberest among us exhort the rest to delineate our favourites: favourite character in fiction, favourite film version of a book – so it goes on. By now we are struggling.
“How about your favourite orgasm in fiction?” The challenge is taken up. Foreheads furled in taut concentration, breathing stertorous in anticipation, not a word is said.
The windows of the balcony are wide open. The still night edges into the room. A voice is heard from below:
Clearly planning for tomorrow morning’s work is not going too well. We are too focused to be distracted.
I am panicking. In my head I scan the insubstantial canon of literature that I can recall. Just to find one ecstatic moment, one involuntary shudder that I can disgorge. But it defeats me. Did Noddy ever have an orgasm? Disabling anxiety grips me as I fail to remember. Perhaps that is what that bell is all about.
“Come on, Mrs Tubby, ring my bell.” Now I remember that he was always getting people to ring his bell – male, female, animal – it didn’t seem to matter.
Fortunately when all the others have expostulated their orgasms they are too limpid and post-ecstatic to ask for mine. I escape to bed.
The following day the dawn comes up – as the dawn tends to most days. I come down to breakfast but there are three poets fighting over the Rice Crispies so I grab a cup of coffee and flee.
Work starts. If they had been in trouble the night before it doesn’t show.
“What we want you to do this morning” – a pause – “is to write an account of an orgasm, any orgasm” and here the tone becomes more emphatic, the pace more measured, “but in a voice which is in a different gender from your own.” She sits back with a big smile on her face.
Have they been eavesdropping? It is an extraordinary coincidence. Or perhaps it is the convergence of minds dedicated to a single cause, unconsciously merged on to a single path.
I know now. I should have realized it before, all those years ago when I first made his acquaintance. Little Noddy is a hermaphrodite. That is the key point which pulls together all the divergent narratives, all the subtexts, the existential angst (actually that was Big-Ears). Now I can write with a clear, gender-free voice. God bless you, Enid Blyton.