Some short time later, Hogg sat trembling in a public lavatory. He could actually see the flesh of his inner thighs jellying with rage. Up above him diesel trains kept setting off to the west, for this was Paddington Station, whither he had walked by way of Madam Tussaud's, the Planetarium, Edgware Road and so on. He had put a penny in the slot and was having more than his pennyworth of anger out. The whole poetry-loathing world had the face of Dr Wapenshaw but, he felt, having soundly and legitimately bemerded that face in imagination and micturated on it also, the world was content merely to loathe, while Dr Wapenshaw had had to go further, deliberately liquidating the poet. Or trying to. He, Hogg, was maligning the world. The world was very bad, but not as bad as Dr Wapenshaw. But then again, was not the bloody Muse bad too, withholding her gifts as she had done and then coming forward with a most ill-timed bestowal? The point was, what was the position? What precisely and the hell did she want him to do? He caught a most agonising and fragrant whiff of himself as he had once been, seated like this in the workroom of his seaside flat, scratching bared legs that were mottled by the electric fire, working away steadily at his verse, the Muse and he set in a calm and utterly professional relationship. Would she, coaxed (which meant, among other things, not calling her bad or bloody as he had done just then), be willing to return on a sort of chronic basis? An acute spasm like that one which there had just been the row about really did nobody anything but harm.
But, of course, in those days, before that bloody woman had married him and made him squander his capital, it had been possible for him to be a professional (i.e. non-earning, or earning very little) poet. Now he had to have a wage. Even if the gift returned properly it would have to be expended in the form of what was called a nice hobby. Of course, he had been able to save a little. He had a little bedroom in the hotel, his food, a few tips. His trousers being down, he was able to find out at once how much he had saved. He still kept his cash in a sponge-bag whose string was wound about a fly-button. He trusted neither banks nor his colleagues at the hotel. Keys there were a mockery, because of pass-keys. Once he had entered his little bedroom to find Spanish John in it, with a shirt of Hogg's in one hand and one of Hogg's razor-blades in the other, and Hogg had been quite sure he had locked his door. John had smiled falsely and said that he had found the door unlocked and had entered to borrow a razor-blade, he being out of them, and at the same time had been filled with a desire to admire Hogg's shirts, which he considered to be very good ones. Hogg did not believe that. Anyway, he kept his money in a bag in his trousers. It was also a kind of testicle-protector, for there were some dirty fighters among the Maltese and Cypriot commis waiters. He now took his roll of five-pound notes out of the bag and counted them earnestly. A crude drawing of a man, a sort of naked god of fertility, looked down without envy.
Twenty-five drawings of a clavigerous lion guarding a rather imbecilic teenage Britannia. That was not bad. That was one hundred and twenty-five pounds. And, in his trouser pocket, there was about thirty shillings in silver, made up of mostly very mean gratuities. The value of certain other gratuities, dispensed in foreign notes, he had not yet troubled to ascertain. These-dirhams, lire, newfrancs, deutschmarks and so on-he kept folded in his passport, which was in the inside pocket of his sports-jacket, now hanging from the door-hook. It was necessary, he had learned, for every employee of the hotel to keep close guard on his passport, because of the thievery and shady trade in passports that went on among the dark scullions, outcasts of the islands, creatures of obscure ethnic origin, cunning, vicious, and unscrupulous. Despite Britain's new despised status in the world, a British passport was still prized. So there it was, then. Enough to buy time to write, say, a really careful sestina or a rambling Pound-type canto, if the Muse would be willing to cooperate. He blew very faint wind. That was not, he told her, in case she were around, acting silly, meant in any spirit of acrimony or impatience: it was a legitimate efflation, paid for in advance.
He was calmer now. He looked with sympathy at the graffiti on the walls and door. Some of these must, he thought, be considered a kind of art, since they were evidently attempts to purge powerful emotion into stylised forms. There were also wild messages, pleas for assignations at known places, though the dates were long gone; there were boasts too extravagant to be capable of fulfilment, also succinct desiderations of sexual partners too complaisant to be of this world. Sex. Well, he, Hogg, had tried, following the rehabilitatory pattern imposed by Dr, now bloody, Wapenshaw, to go in for sex like everybody else, but it had not been very successful. In any case, you really had to be young nowadays to go in properly for sex: that had been made fairly clear to him by such of the young-Italian chambermaids and so on-as he had met, as also by some of the popular art he had, again in fulfilment of the Wapenshaw bloody pattern, tried glumly to appreciate. So there it was, then. He must stop himself saying that to himself all the time.
On the walls there were also little verses, most of them set-like those works of Faith Fortitude-as prose. They were all traditional verses, mostly on cloacal subjects, but it was somehow warming to find that verse was still in regard for its gnomic or mnemonic properties. Among the common people, that was. He could not imagine bloody Wapenshaw writing or drawing anything in a lavatory. There was, Hogg noticed, a nice little patch of naked wall by his right arm. He did not need his Muse for what he now took out his ballpoint pen to write. He wrote:
Think, when you ease your inner gripe
Or stand with penis in your paw,
A face is lodged within the pipe
And it belongs to Wapenshaw.
That, perhaps, would be learned by heart and reproduced elsewhere underground, imperfect memory blurring the sharp elegance but perhaps not wholly losing that name, in some allomorph or other. Enderby, folk poet. Enderby, not Hogg. And Wapenshaw given a proper immortality.
Hoggerby now felt hungry. He girded himself, pulled the chain, donned his jacket and went out. He nodded kindly at the wash-and-brush-up man, who was reading the Evening Standard by his glazed partition, then mounted to the light. He walked out of the station and found a sufficiently dirty-looking little eating-hell in a sidestreet, nearly filled with slurping men. He knew the sort of meal he wanted: a rebellious meal. From the tooth-sucking man with glasses behind the counter he ordered a mug of very strong tea, eggs and fat bacon, marged doorsteps. He was going to give himself indigestion. That would show bloody Wapenshaw.