Coales' Notes: Letter bomb

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The Independent Culture
WEDNESDAY: I simply want to return to the real world.

Last night I put my dilemma to Rowena. As she was perhaps aware, I had recently, for want of a better word, gone a little mad, and had issued this rallying call to all and sundry. And now, just as I had stopped being mad - she said, 'Oh dear' - just as I had stopped being mad, a group of genuine and committed madmen had responded to my call, offering to blow up the Department of National Heritage in my name.

What on earth should I do? Let the Department know, and risk making a complete fool of myself? Or sit tight, and risk getting myself arrested as an accessory to the crime, being wrongfully imprisoned for 15 years, and eventually having my case made the subject of an inaccurate film?

She said I was being irrational: 'You'll simply have to tell them not to.' I explained I had absolutely no idea who they were - just one of the apparently thousands of people on the Ars Longa mailing list. She replied: 'You'll have to circulate another message then.' I said, what - along the lines of: 'Whoever you are, if you were planning to, please do not bomb the Department of National Heritage. It is not my wish, sincerely, Gordon Coales' - how would that look? She said: 'Well, it would make your position clear, wouldn't it?' I agreed it seemed a possible solution.

I experimented with various wordings. The problem, given the kind of people it would be going out to, is to do it without planting the idea in anyone else's mind.

But today I had a call from Richard Silver. 'I gather you haven't been seen around the office for the last month. Apparently, you've gone mad. Perfectly understandable. Rory says he's seen it coming for months.' I said I wished he'd mentioned it to me then.

He went on: 'But I just wanted to check on one thing. You're not thinking of claiming it as a kind of industrial injury are you? Because I really hate anything to do with the courts.' I told him it hadn't occurred to me. He said: 'Fine. But no more funny messages in the mailing list, all right? Get well soon.'

I've just checked the news. It hasn't gone up yet, anyway.