Harry Turner's Footnotes to Fandom
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Pyramids In My Wardrobe by Harry Turner

- You don't seriously believe all that crap about god being an astronaut, do you, asks Lisa incredulously.

My reputation as a serious thinker sways in the balance. I've just got hold of a copy of von Däniken's book In Search of Ancient Gods ... his "pictorial evidence for the impossible". And I have to admit that among the wealth of illustrations provided there are many that impress me, ranging from the grandiloquence of the Tiahuanaco ruins and Nazca "lines'' to the elaborately carved stone bas-relief over the sarcophagus and remains that the ancient Maya left in a burial chamber inside the Temple of Inscriptions at Palenque - a find that shook up archeological preconceptions in the 1950s.

This exquisite example of classic Mayan sculpture, on a stone some 14 feet long by 7 feet wide, and weighing all of 5 tons, depicts, according to orthodox opinion, an Indian on a sacrificial altar. Däniken chooses to interpret it as showing an astronaut cradled in a space capsule. And his book includes the work of American aviator engineer John Sanderson, who has decided to re-interpret the carving in terms of a technical diagram and produced a picture of an efficient-looking space craft with an astronaut at the controls. But another item catches my attention... about pyramids.

- Guess who's involved in these miniature pyramids I mentioned in the review of the Umland's book, I invite Lisa.

- Who, she enquires vaguely, preoccupied as she breaks off typing to slosh another blob of corflu on the blood-splattered stencil in her typewriter.

- Son of Marshall McLuhan, no less, I announce. Seems that it was McLuhan junior who first built an 18-inch high model pyramid in red Plexiglass, and as well as resharpening a blunt razor blade, also preserved a juicy beefsteak for all of 20 days. And Däniken also mentions this experiment with a cosmic ray detector in the Pyramid of Chephren, but his reference doesn't make any more sense to me than the Umland brothers did...

- That figures, murmured Lisa, happily typing away once more:

- Incidentally, your readers don't need to let me know where to get a commercial plastic pyramid: the address is right there in Däniken's book. Though what inflation's done to the price quoted of three dollars I shudder to think... ■

*     *     *     *     *

I can never resist the lure of a book sale. There's this copy of "Teach Yourself Polish" going cheap. Hearing the language spoken on visits to Lisa has created a certain aura of familiarity, and the back-page blurb is full of promises: "laborious learning of tables .. replaced by a gradual process of familiarisation.. grammar similarly simplified.. a thorough grounding." I feel supremely optimistic about my capabilities. I pick it up. Why not, I think.

Getting down to it, I find there's more hard work than the publishers suggest. Polish grammar's more involved than English. Then there's the complication of inflection, the way words keep changing form by function and relationship to other words in a sentence. But I persist. Eventually, when I fancy I have achieved a certain mastery, I pluck up courage to compose a letter to Lisa. Nothing involved, and yet, as I lick the envelope flap, I feel this is going to surprise her.

Apparently it does.

On my next visit while complimenting on my letter she mentions, in a polite way, a few mistakes in the matter of gender. Then she looks faintly puzzled. What, she asks with eyebrows raised, is this bit about the painting that's fallen behind the wardrobe?

Back at the studio, I ransack the waste-paper basket, unscrumple the many drafts discarded during composition. I consult my notes. Not a hint of paintings falling behind wardrobes. I am seized by an immense sense of failure to communicate and, next day, when the local Boy Scouts call collecting for their summer jumble sale, am tempted to present them with "Teach Yourself Polish".

The thought that stops me is that I might yet have a future as a Dadaist poet in Polish... ■

one of a series of occasional pieces published by the Septuagenarian Fans Association
Originally published in Lisa Conesa's Zimri 8, 1976

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