Wednesday, April 23, 2014

Because Of Mistakes! pt 17

Part 1 Part 2 Part 3 Part 4 Part 5 Part 6 Part 7 Part 8 Part 9 Part 10 Part 11 Part 12 Part 13 Part 14 Part 15 Part 16

After they'd crossed the bridge they cut through St James' Park, the Green Park and Hype Park to arrive at St Mary's Hospital where a certain highly-recommended doctor awaited them. His office, one floor up from street level, was spacious and filled with books. Large windows showed old oaks changing from buds to leaves. They both went into the doctor's office, Ted didn't wait outside. Since Albert Latham had announced that his neurological system was very similar to Charlie's, transparency had become the word of the day regarding that neurological condition: it was not to be kept secret, it was to be publicly discussed, and doctors were to meet with neither of them alone. Ever. It seemed clear to Ted that Albert feared some danger that lurked in his and Charlie's condition being treated or examined or discussed in secret or in private. Even Albert's habits of rocking and moaning and doing other odd things when he got agitated, very similar to Charlie's way of doing it -- even these things, Albert now sometimes did in front of other people, mannerisms which, he had publicly announced, he had spent a lifetime hiding from others. Sometimes. And sometimes Albert would start to rock and moan or clutch his head or wring his hands in front of others, and then suddenly run off -- presumably to finish doing what he needed to do in private, as he'd been accustomed to do.

Some doctors had refused to see Charlie other than one-on-one, but there were plenty of other doctors interested in him, and even some of the doctors who at first hadn't gone along with the as-public-as-possible nature of the whole case relented so as not to be left behind.

This doctor -- Ted had heard the man's name not for the first time today when they introduced each other, and forgotten it already, the doctors were beginning to become something of a blur for him -- asked them to please be seated in some of the office's rather abundant armchairs. Ted complied, Charlie cast a nervous glance at Ted, and Ted said to the doctor, "It's sometimes very difficult for Charlie to stay seated. It may seem to you that you don't have his full attention if he's wandering around the office and looking at everything but you, but believe me, the interview will go better than if he's sitting and can't think of anything but how uncomfortable he is sitting."

"It's true," Charlie chimed in. "It's a bit strange, but I'd be very grateful for your understanding." Charlie had found, with Albert's guidance, that phrases such as admitting that certain things were strange and saying he'd be grateful for someone's understanding were very helpful when meeting people for the first time. At seemed to help everyone to be more at ease. The doctor's books were fascinating. Charlie had seen so many books in so many different luxurious rooms lately.

"Of course," the doctor replied. "And I understand that an actual physical examination will not occur today, that it's to be an interview only, am I correct?"

"Yes," Ted said.

"Yes, thank you for understanding, doctor," Charlie said.

"Of course," the doctor replied.

Charlie strode over to one of the large windows, just outside of which a female robin was jumping back and forth between two branches of an oak and chattering agitatedly. "She's lost her babies," Charlie said, pointing to the bird. "She had a nest right there on one of those branches, I don't know whether or not the eggs had hatched yet, but now they're gone, the whole nest is gone somehow, something happened to it, and she's very sad. It's very distressing. But there's nothing anybody can do about it now."

The doctor turned in surprise to Ted, who said, "I'd imagine e's completely right, Doctor. E's very good with animals, very sensitive to what's 'appening to them. Also, if e doesn't know something, e tends to say 'I don't know,' right straight up with no 'if's' or 'but's.' If e says something is such and such way about an animal or a watch, I'd say a good rule a thumb is to assume e's right until you know otherwise."

"I hadn't even noticed there was a robin's nest out there," the doctor said. "That's extraordinary, Mr Evans."

"Aaaa-aah. Aaaa..."

"E prefers that everyone call im 'Charlie.'"

"Oh, I'm sorry, Charlie. I shall do so from now on."

"It's not so important. Thank you for understanding."


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Monday, April 21, 2014

Because Of Mistakes! pt 16

Part 1 Part 2 Part 3 Part 4 Part 5 Part 6 Part 7 Part 8 Part 9 Part 10 Part 11 Part 12 Part 13 Part 14 Part 15

At about 12:19 PM on Thursday the following week, the 31st of May, Ted slapped a man on the back of his head, slapped him so hard that it gave a resounding crack and sent the man stumbling forward for several steps. Charlie turned and looked as the man stumbled past him. It looked as if he were going to fall, but he righted himself again. This was one of two men who had been walking toward them as they walked across the bridge toward Westminster. One of them had called out to Charlie "Oy!" and took off his cap and was holding it over his heart, "d'ya mind if we have a look at the watch?" Charlie was reaching to take the Latham Model 100 out of his pocket, the one Albert had let him pick pick out of all one hundred of them, with an emerald-green face and a gold case and chain. Part of the face actually was covered with emeralds, the rest was gold covered with emerald-green lacquer which kept a very high shine.

Charlie had taken his hand away from his watch pocket again when Ted slapped the man. The man had managed not to fall, but he had dropped his cap. Before he'd righted himself Ted had begun to shout at the two men, turning back and forth from one to the other and holding one of his enormous forefingers very close to their faces: "Oy! Ya don't bother this one! Ya don't touch him, ya don't touch any of his fings, and you certainly don't try to rob him! D'ya understand me? Oy! I asked you a question!"

The man Ted had struck mumbled, "Oy, Guv, we understand," as he picked up his cap and set it on his head again with both trembling hands. The other said, "Yeah, Captain, we hear you loud and clear."

"Good! Understanding is a glorious fing. Now piss off on out of it!" The two men ran away toward Lambeth without a look back. They were both about average size, but when Ted had slapped one of them and yelled at them both he'd made them seem very small. Charlie guessed that Ted was about six foot five, and his shoulders were very broad and he had very big rippling muscles in his arms and legs, you could see that through his shirt sleeves and trouser legs. They watched the men running away for a while, then Ted turned to Charlie and clapped him gently on the shoulder and said softly, "Alright then." Charlie didn't mind when Ted clapped him on the shoulder. He knew that Ted came with him to keep him safe. These occasional claps on the shoulder were the only times Ted touched him, and, just as when his Dad hugged him or toussled his hair, he knew that these claps on the shoulder were meant to express good will and the intent to protect him.

Charlie asked, "Were they going to -- "

"Yeah, Charlie, they were going to try to steal your watch."

"How do you know?"

"Hm. It's hard to put into words."

"Is it because of their social class?"

"Ah, well, no, Charlie, it wasn't that. I'm from the same class as they are. It may be that most of the people who'd try to steal a man's watch are from the lower classes, but not everybody from the lower classes is a fief."

"I guess I'm from the same classes myself."

"There you go, Charlie. Have you ever even thought about robbing someone?"

Charlie stood for a moment, trying to recall such thoughts, and then replied, "No."

"There ya go, Guv."

"Aaaaahhh. Aaaa, yah."

"What's wrong, Charlie?"

"It's... I'd like it better if you just called me 'Charlie.'"

"But I do call you 'Charlie.'"

"Just then you called me 'Guv.'"

"Oh, I see. Sorry."

"It's not a bad thing. It just confuses me when people call me 'Guv' or 'Sir' or 'Mr Evans' or 'Charles' or 'Friend' or 'Matey.' It's like when there's somebody else around named Charlie. I'm not sure whether people are talking to me or someone else."

Ted was basically Charlie's bodyguard now, and the Lathams had given him that position when they gave Charlie the gold-and-emerald Model 100. At first Ted -- like many others -- had been alarmed by the idea of Charlie carrying around a watch worth well over a thousand quid. "This ain't exactly a posh part of town," he'd said to Albert. "I know, you and your fahver and brover carry watches like that, and some customers come and go with them, but... You know what I'm saying, Sir."

"Yes, I do know."

"He's different."

"Yes, he is. But, you know, we're different too. You, me, the whole firm. We want to change things."

"Yes, Sir, and you have changed things -- "

" -- We have changed things."

"Alright, thanks for saying so. We have changed things. But do we go around asking for trouble?"

"Yes, that's exactly what we do."

"Sir?"

"Anytime anybody wants to make a real change for the better for people who need help, they're told, 'You can't do that.' Every time someone shows any ambition to rise above what is supposed his 'station' in life, he or she is told, 'You can't do that. You'll fail. Well sod that. Do you know what I mean?"

"Yes, Sir," Ted had answered, and he felt the glow in his chest he had often gotten from working for the Lathams, "you've shown it to me before, but fank you for reminding me: you mean that if you actually want to change fings, as opposed to merely sitting around wif a bunch of pooves talking about changing fings, you're going to have to upset some people." It wasn't the extremely high wages he and all the other Latham employees got which gave Ted this periodical warm feeling -- it was the arrogant determination to change the world which was behind those wage rates and many other things they did. It had occurred to Ted then that the wages were an example of things which people said couldn't be done. No doubt people told the Lathams that they couldn't pay their people so much, that they would go broke and that it would spread anarchy and chaos and crime and disease and so forth, and, well, that it was simply impossible. It was the way that the Lathams, some more than others, Albert particularly, whenever people told them, "You can't change the world," as all of us are constantly told, said, "Sod that, watch me, I'm changing it."

Back on the bridge, Charlie said, "You 'read' them. That's what it's called, isn't it? People 'read' other people. That's how you knew they wanted to take my watch. I can't read people. I'm not good at it at all."

"That's okay, Charlie. We all have strong points and weak points. Your strong points are very strong."

"Yes, I'm becoming well-known for watch repair. And for 'reading' animals. I do that unusually well."

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Friday, April 18, 2014

Because Of Mistakes! pt 15

Part 1 Part 2 Part 3 Part 4 Part 5 Part 6 Part 7 Part 8 Part 9 Part 10 Part 11 Part 12 Part 13 Part 14

At about 10:05 on the same Monday morning, about the same time that Latham had a panic attack leading to his confessions to Brown, Chief Superintendent Martin rose from behind his desk and shut the door to his office, because Inspector Raymond had begun to shout most indiscreetly. As he settled back into his chair, Raymond had not interrupted or slowed down his screed: " -- because how do I know you're really with us on the Left? Because you say you are. That's all I've got to go on. How do I know that Smith had to be dealt with that way, for the greater good, for the sake of things I believe in? Again, your say-so is all I have."

"Raymond! Do please try to calm down. You ought to take a leave of absence, for the sake of those very same things you and I believe in. At least you finally stopped wearing Smith's watch on that great bloody platinum chain -- yes, I noticed that, of course I did, do you think others didn't?"

"One other person did, at least. He took it off me. Someone I know is my friend." At last Raymond had stopped shouting. Through the glass walls of his office Martin saw entirely too many policemen looking up from their desks in their direction.

"Good," he said to Raymond. "Be grateful you've got friends. Think of your friends, and how your behavior and appearance can affect their safety, and what they try so hard to do."

"You might want to be just a bit careful lecturing me about my friends' safety. Sir. You going to have me dealt with if I'm too troublesome, like you had Smith dealt with? Or maybe finally I'll just decide that I need to deal with you before you deal with me"

"Oh please don't be melodramatic! A bit ironic, while we're at it, you lecturing me right now about being careful. Do try to calm down and think for a moment, Raymond. My word is in fact not all that you have about Smith, you also have someone rather widely known as a Leftist, known not previously to have been in the pocket of the reaction, suddenly sporting suits costing a month of his salary apiece, and that expensive watch on the end of that bloody great platinum chain. In Smith's case, in fact, you have my word, plus his extremely erratic behavior."

"But about you, all I have is your word. you could well be triple-agent passing yourself off as a double-agent, giving just enough help to me and others like me to keep the flow of information going the other way. Well, I'm tired of it. I want to be given more information about your network, I want to be reassured that the man I've been working for is who he says he is. Yes, I suppose the reasonable thing to do would be to take some sick leave, go to the country for a week or two, maybe to a spa, have you tell everyone I'd just needed a break, then come back and as if all I'd needed was a rest. Well sorry, but I just don't feel like being so reasonable. I think I've earned the right to make some demands. For or I know about you, you might be neither a double- nor a triple-agent, but an independent, pretending to be on everyone's side but really on no-one's side, merrily lying to everyone you meet and plundering everyone you can. Your great big house and your piles of cash are real, whether you swindled the reaction of them or not."

"Yes they are. I also have to constantly pretend to flatter and serve people I despise. I'm quite aware that almost everyone thinks I'm a corrupt lackey for them. I know that any day, I could be arrested, if the state suddenly decides to punish corrupt police officers, or I could be blown to bits by a bomb thrown by someone because he shares my ideals -- assuming I actually haven't been lying through my teeth to you for years. You ever consider things like that?"

"I have, I have," Raymond mumbled.

"Alright then. You've earned the right to be unreasonable. You've certainly earned the right to know more." Martin picked up the phone and told the operater, "House of Commons, terminal twelve... Yes, hello, it's Martin... Yes yes, Chief Superintendant Martin, please get me Griggs... Well then you'll just have to interrupt him. This is urgent... " As he apparently waited for someone named Griggs to come to the phone, Martin took a piece of paper and wrote on it. "Griggs. Put everything you've got on file 12 into a packet and bring it to my station... Well then you'll have to schedule your meeting, and extend to everyone my sincere apologies for disrupting their schedules. Get it all into one package, write '12' on the package, and nothing else, bring it to my station, hand it to the sergeant at the front desk, tell him it's for me, and leave. Don't say anything about the package, don't say your name or where you work, don't engage in small talk if you happen to know the sergeant personally, don't hang about at all, just say the packet's for me and get out of there. Oh, and forget you ever knew anything about something called file 12. Thanks very much, Griggs." Martin hung up and handed Raymond the piece of paper he'd been writing on. There were several names on it, including the names of two Labour MP's. "Tell all of these people that I've widened your circle of confidential contacts. If they act like they don't know what you're talking about, it means you're visiting them before I've had a chance to tell them you were coming, in which case just have them telephone me. Now, file 12: that's a dossier on Smith. Plenty of things to investigate, and figure out how accurate I was when I talked to you about him. I am sorry, you know. It's a bloody awful thing, killing a friend."

"Killing anybody," Raymond said.

"You ever kill anyone in the Army?"

"I don't know if I did or not," Raymond said. "In a couple of different battles a bunch of us shot away at each other from hundreds of yards apart. I fired my rifle into the middle of some clouds of smoke, mostly. No idea whether I hit anyone or not. Never was in any hand-to-hand fighting."

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Thursday, April 17, 2014

Because Of Mistakes! pt 14

Part 1 Part 2 Part 3 Part 4 Part 5 Part 6 Part 7 Part 8 Part 9 Part 10 Part 11 Part 12 Part 13

"I'm not. Often he can fix a watch with his bare hands. He's got such control of his fingertips that he can unscrew a tiny screw with his index finger, and screw it back in with his finger when he's done. When a screw was too tight to use his hands, he used the blade of a folding pocket-knife. Besides that knife, he kept a pair of tweezers in his workspace in his father's pub, and I believe that may've been all of the tools he was using before we met. We've given him proper loupes and tools and lamps he can use at home now, in addition to his work desk at the plant. And of course having decent tools has just fired him off like a rocket, in terms of what he can do, and how fast."

"So does he have any interesting designs for new watches?" Brown asked.

"Um, no. We were very hopeful about that at first, but the idea of designing something new doesn't seem to interest him at all. He wants to fix things. He sees a watch and as if he immediately imagines a Platonic ideal of the perfect version of that watch, and he wants the watch to be as close to that imaginary perfection as it can be. And that's how he expresses it, too: as approaching perfection. He's quite clear that he doesn't consider any existing thing to be perfect, and that everything is just a matter of trying to come close to perfection. If it's close enough to perfection it gives him pleasure. If it's not it can distress him quite a bit. And we're not just talking about watches here, he wants to fix everything he possibly can: he'll move a fork a tenth of an inch to make a table place-setting more symmetrical. He'll insist on walking a certain route because it'll shave ten paces off of a half-mile walk. He'll complain that there are too few pigeons sitting on a statue to make a pleasing arrangement. He'll notice if an animal is injured. He's very concerned about animals. He might see that a pigeon has a sore foot, and he can't do anything about that, and it upsets him greatly. He'll see that a shoe on a horse pulling a hansom cab is loose, or too thick or too thin, and he'll try to tell the driver about it. Some drivers actually listen to him about such things, because, ...Hmm. Well, because they've learned that he's always right. He's simply a genius."

"That's extraordinary," Brown said. "I'd only heard about the watch repair, I hadn't realized his talents extended to those other things. But I gather that he's also, oh... Forgive me..."

"Yes, in addition to his unusual abilities he also has unusual weaknesses. He doesn't understand people very well. He can be quite awkward socially. And so at first many people assume that he's quite simpleminded, when in fact the opposite is the case. Let me put it this way: he's very sharply focused on some things, such as watch repair, while he has great difficulty focusing on some other things which most people understand, and take for granted that others will understand them too. For example, if a group of people are walking and conversing, it will be clear to most people that whatever it is they're talking about is likely to be much more important than whether the route they take to their destination gets them there a few seconds sooner. Crowds generally are difficult for him. He doesn't seem to lie, as far as I can tell, nor do I think he can tell when others are lying. Not right away. Sometimes he'll figure out after the fact that things which have been said don't all add up. That can sometimes distress him quite a bit. In some respects he's innocent in the extreme."

"You said that crowds generally are difficult for him. Generally, but not always?"

"That's right, not always. Depends very much on the particular crowd," Latham said. "What are you getting at?"

"Well. He's obviously an extraordinary man. I thought it might be nice to introduce him to society."

"You want to show him off as a freak at one of your parties." Latham knew this wasn't quite accurate and he blushed as soon as he'd said it.

"Latham! What do you take me for?" Latham had begun to breathe heavily and to become dizzy. He felt the need to rock and forth or moan, to do something to soothe himself. Something or other which he always did after he had gone off by himself and hidden. He felt that whenever the conversation was about Charlie, people perceived that he was unusual like Charlie, although they never admitted this to Latham's face. He imagined them laughing at him and Charlie behind his back. He was fairly sure that it didn't happen quite as often as he imagined, that these anxieties were irrational. But it was hard to control them, and the fear that he would be exposed as a lunatic, and sent to some torture-chamber of an asylum, never to be released. This fear of awful asylums was even more irrational than the concern that people could see that he shared Charlie's characteristics, and that they regarded both of them as imbeciles, but it was hard to banish the fear even as he recognized it as irrational. Latham was upset with himself for confiding in Inspector Raymond about autism. Raymond simply didn't understand. He'd been the wrong one to confide in. Or perhaps, on the other hand, it was the secrecy which had been ill-advised all along, and he ought to have been perfectly open about his condition all along, never made the slightest attempt to conceal the ways in which he was unusual. Various scenarios of alternate pasts, if he had done or not done this or that, and imaginings of various possible consequences for each choice he might have made differently, began to race faster and faster through his mind, and the need to get away, to rock, to clutch his head and wring his hands and moan, became ever more desperate. Brown was saying, "Latham! My God, what's wrong? Do you need some water, some brandy? Do you need a doctor?" Obviously, Brown was a much better one to confide in than Raymond. But he had to open up generally. Let people think what they would. As with anything, the more intelligent would understand and the stupid ones would draw stupid conclusions. No one was gone to put him into an asylum. Get it out, get it out. Tell the truth at last.

"Water," he said to Brown. "Water, please." Brown went running out of the office and soon was back with a glass of water. In the meantime Latham had begun to rock and moan and wring his hands, and this time when he was no longer alone he didn't attempt to hide these behaviors. He took the glass from Brown, drank down half of it at a gulp. It was icy and good. He put the glass down on Brown's desk, Brown raised a hand as if to lay it comfortingly on his shoulder, he gestured for Brown to please keep his distance, Brown understood the gesture and and stayed back. Latham took another gulp of water and nodded toward Brown's desk. Again, Brown understood the wordless request, and he went back and sat behind his desk again.

And then Latham told him, in detail, about how he shared many of Charlie's characteristics, with the major differences that neither his genius nor his social awkwardness was as pronounced as Charlie's, and that since early childhood, sensing much better than Charlie did how some people reacted to others who were different, he was in the deeply-ingrained habit of hiding the ways in which he was atypical. About the effort it took him to attempt to blend in. How things like the rocking and moaning and hand-wringing, which he usually did in secret, helped calm him down when his mind began to race uncomfortably. Clutching his head also, and striking the tendons below his knees and under his feet to set off his reflexes, how these and other things also helped. Things like a drink or two, for instance, or the company of some pretty girl or other with whom he managed to get along. How he had instantly known that he had many of these things in common with Charlie, the moment he'd first seen Charlie in agony, being held down by two constables on a crowded Waterloo station platform while an inexpert doctor methodically made things worse. About his anxieties about being confined in an asylum, and how he realized that those fears were irrational. Each big secret he gave up to Brown was like a heavy stone lifted off of his chest. He could breathe easily again. "I know you would never want to show anyone off as a freak," he said the Brown, "I know you're not like that at all. I lashed out because I was panicking. I'm sorry."

"My dear fellow," Brown said. "My dear Albert."

"I really prefer being called Latham. Sorry."

"Not a problem at all, Latham. Well, I must honestly say, as far as I was ever able to tell, you always fit in quite convincingly. Only thing a bit unusual about you has been how little eye contact you make. Just a split-second here and there to sort of ground things, and otherwise you're staring off somewhere. But even that isn't terribly unusual. I had no idea at all. My god, the strain it must have cost you."

"So, yes, by all means, let's let you have a party and introduce Charlie to some nice sensible people. You're quite right, it's time to introduce him to the wider world. What sort of event did you have in mind?"

"I was thinking of my uncle's place, actually. Does Charlie like the countryside?"

"I've no idea. I'll ask. And of course you've got to invite Charlie's Dad as well. I'm not sure how often he leaves the pub to someone else, or for how long."

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Wednesday, April 16, 2014

Because Of Mistakes! pt 13

Part 1 Part 2 Part 3 Part 4 Part 5 Part 6 Part 7 Part 8 Part 9 Part 10 Part 11 Part 12

The next Monday, the 21st of May, at around 10:01 AM, Brown, the man with whom the Latham concern generally dealt at Harrods, was exclaiming over some watches Latham had brought to show him. They custom-built some individual watches to order, and then they made watches like these, in models. Latham's grandfather had been the first in the firm to put a number to a group of similar watches, dubbing them Model 1 in 1854. They had reached Model 100. Unlike the other models, which they had built until demand petered out and/or a newer and better model had replaced them, they had decided to make exactly one hundred Model 100 watches. They were all done now, and Latham had brought ten of them to show to Brown. There were in an office away from the main ground-level floor at Harrods. Latham had chosen 10 pieces which he felt well-represented the variety of cases and faces in the Model 100 series.

"But the movements are all the same?" Brown asked.

"Identical."

"Beautiful," Brown said. Latham had come to the puzzling realization lately that many, perhaps most of their customers actually knew little and cared less about watches, and bought them mostly to impress other people who also knew practically nothing about how watches worked, or even which ones were more accurate or reliable than others, but had remarkably accurate knowledge about how much the customers had paid for them -- unlike most of the people who ended up wearing their watches, the shops who bought them wholesale tended to have a pretty exact idea of what they were buying. And Brown here was a true connoisseur. He had unscrewed the back case of one of the Model 100's, removed the cover and was looking at the whirling movement through a loupe. Brown was one of the few people Latham would allow to take apart a Latham watch which he hadn't yet purchased. Latham would disassemble a watch for some others, and watch closely to make sure they didn't damage it. But Brown here was okay.

"There's the same price for each watch," Latham said, "although, as you can see, of course, some of the cases and faces were more expensive for us to build than others." Latham winced a bit, but said exactly what his father and his brother William had asked him to say: "Our prices for series watches have always been negotiable in the past, and especially for good customers such as Harrods, but for the Model 100 I'm afraid it's take it or leave it. Thirteen hundred pounds apiece."

Latham had expected Brown to pretend that he was outraged at such a price, and to have to go through some back-and-forth before Brown either took it or left it, but instead Brown just said, "I'm not even going to pretend that that isn't a bargain."

Latham smiled. He really did like Brown. With him, there was very little of the bargaining nonsense Latham encountered with many buyers, and which he also observed in William. They seemed to enjoy that sort of thing, which to Latham was like pulling teeth. Perhaps Brown was bargainer too, most of the time? And sensed that Latham didn't care for it? He continued, again, exactly as his father and William had asked him to: "There's one exception to this firm price: if Harrods buys all of the available Model 100's, the price will be eleven hundred pounds apiece."

"All one hundred, eh?"

"I'm sorry, no, three are already off the market," one in a display case at the plant, one to be auctioned off and the proceeds given to the Salvation Army, and the other, at Latham's insistence, was now in Charlie's pocket. "It's felt that -- Ehh! Excuse me for speaking to you that way -- my brother feels that there could be some considerable marketing cache both for our firm and for Harrods if we make this an exclusive deal with you. He's even speculated about the deal making headlines."

"I daresay it will. This is news, my good man. Ah, I should say, it would make news. I'd like to go ahead and say yes, but with... Ah... Eleven hundred times -- "

"One hundred and six thousand and seven hundred pounds."

"Thanks, old chap. You really do such sums in your head, don't you?" Brown seemed honestly surprised. Latham was surprised that Brown hadn't been able to do the math in his head. But this was apparently another example of how people like him and Charlie were unusual. "With an amount as high as a hundred and six thousand and seven hundred pounds, I can't say yes or no on my own. Afraid I'm not quite that far along in my career yet. Don't want to make you a promise about something that's not done yet, but I'm pretty sure they'll say yes." Brown was putting the watch back together again. "There's been a lot of excitement about this around here."

"That's gratifying."

"So," Brown said, "I've heard about your prodigy. Your young man Charlie Evans."

Latham was quite startled. He felt his heart pound in his chest. Who'd been talking about Charlie? Then he reflected that customers came and went in the plant all the time, and that they'd seen Charlie at work and exclaimed about him, and that it certainly wasn't his place to expect them not to talk about it to others. He cleared his throat and said, "'Prodigy.' Yes, that's exactly right. Happened to run into him when I was consulting on a police investigation, and Charlie was a witness."

"They say he's an amazing repairman."

"Better than I am. Miles better."

"You're exaggerating," Brown said.

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Monday, April 14, 2014

Because Of Mistakes! pt 12

Part 1 Part 2 Part 3 Part 4 Part 5 Part 6 Part 7 Part 8 Part 9 Part 10 Part 11

"Oy!" somebody called.

Charlie looked in the direction of the voice and saw two men walking toward him, looking at him. He looked back at the sky and replied, "Oy."

"You the one fixes watches?"

"Yes, I am."

"You think you could fix this one?" Charlie looked at them again and saw that one of them had taken an old watch made by Thomas Fuller out of his pocket. The case was badly dented and most of its silver plating was gone, and the brass underneath was dull. All three of the hands were still there, but Charlie could see that the second hand was not seated, was almost about to fall off, and wouldn't turn anymore if the watch were running. The minute hand was bent.

"You have to talk to my Dad first." Charlie pointed to the front door of the pub. "He runs the pub. First you talk to him. If you make a deal, then I look at the watch."

"Your Dad have another name, besides 'Dad'?"

"Aa... aa... Yeah. His name's Pete. He runs the pub."

"You charge anything for taking the watch apart and looking at it, even if you can't fix it?"

"My Dad... My Dad handles the money." Charlie couldn't understand money. Money had to do with the way people behaved. "But no," Charlie added: "if I don't fix anything, you don't pay anything."

"Awright, cheers," and the two men went behind him and into the pub as Charlie continued to look at the sky. The two pigeons had disappeared from that rooftop. Charlie's father had tried and tried to explain money to him, and Charlie had tried hard to understand, but over and over his mind went numb as he tried to listen, and his father's words made no sense to him. With money there were always deals and discounts and bonuses and such, and Charlie had made no progress in understanding those things. You had to "read people," as his Dad put it, in order to be able to make deals well.

The lovely purple was fading into dark blue in the sky and it was getting colder. He went into the pub just as his father and the two men were walking toward the front door. "Ah, Charlie," his Dad said. "I was just telling these two gents I thought they'd be better off just buying another watch. Gave them the names of some places to look for one. And I said maybe you might have one for sale as well -- ?"

"Not at the moment, Dad."

"Ah, well."

"I don't mind lookin' at it, Dad?"

"You sure?"

"Yeah. Nothin else planned at the moment, and I'm curious what I'll see."

Charlie's Dad said to the men, "I don't want to get your hopes up here. We're talking about five minutes, maybe more."

"Maybe less," Charlie said.

"What do you think?" one of the men said. There was a pause. Charlie was looking at the floor. He wondered whether the men were communicating by looking at each other. Charlie couldn't communicate that way. "Alright," said one of the men. "I could do with a half-pint of that IPA, I think."

Charlie took the watch into his little workshop just off of the pub's main room. Mr Latham had given him a lamp and loupes and tools and parts to bring back home, in addition to those things which he said were now Charlie's at the Latham plant. Mr Latham encouraged Charlie always to use the loupes and to keep whatever he was working on well-lit, whether by sunlight through a window or by a lamp. The loupes and lamps made a huge difference in the ease of working on watches.

Charlie checked the time when he started to work. Ninety seconds later he had many of the Fuller's parts spread across his desk top, and he called for his father. After his Dad had closed the workshop door behind him Charlie said, "It's gonna need seven new parts. I have three of them."

"Right. Hang on." Charlie's Dad popped back out, then very soon he was back and saying, "All right then, Son, put it back together for them. Very polite of you to offer to look at it, but they're going to get another watch."

"Dad, do you want to see if they'll sell it to us?"

"No, Charlie, I do not."

Charlie was disappointed at that, but he put the Fuller back together, seating the second hand so that it would turn properly when the watch was running again, and straightening the bent minute hand.

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Sunday, April 13, 2014

People Who Doubt The Authenticity Of The Gospel Of Jesus' Wife Seem To Be Grasping At Straws

(Before I begin here, let me try to be as clear as possible: "authenticity" means that the famous postcard-sized piece of papyrus containing the so-called Gospel of Jesus' Wife is ancient, that is: more than 1000 years old, and perhaps over 1600 years old, and not a 19th-or 20th-century forgery. No serious academics are saying that this text records the actual words of Jesus, talking about his wife. None of them are saying this proves that Jesus was married. What Prof King has said all along, consistently, is that this document may perhaps show that one group of early Christians thought of Jesus as having been married. It's a real shame that so many people are somehow managing not to hear her.)

Professor Karen L King, who came under heavy criticism in 2012 when she presented the so-called Gospel of Jesus' Wife to the public in 2012, when critics said it was a modern forgery, and not a 4th-century Coptic translation of a 2nd-century Greek text, seems to have been at least partially vindicated.

But some experts are still skeptical:

"Brown University Egyptology professor Leo Depuydt [...] points to grammatical mistakes that he says a native Coptic writer would not make"

If Depuydt is right about that: so what? King says this is a 4th-century translation of a 2nd-century Greek text. There's no reason why a native speaker of Greek in the 4th century couldn't have translated something into Coptic, making mistakes no native Coptic speaker would have made. Ideally translations are made by native speakers of the language being translated into. Ideally, but certainly not always, as countless people of many different natives languages have discovered when they've had great difficulty trying to decipher texts in their own native languages in owner's manuals for appliances.

Depuydt says, "the text … is a patchwork of words and phrases from the [...] Coptic Gospel of Thomas."

And again I say: if Depuydt is right, so what? A 4th-century translator could've been familiar with the Gospel of Thomas, which was not officially condemned by the Orthodox authorities until the 4th century. If his or her native language was Greek, it would be only natural for him or her to depend on words and phrases which he or she knew from a Coptic text, such as, for example, the Gospel of Thomas.

Depuydt is not convincing me at all that the Gospel of Jesus' Wife is a modern forgery. If this is the best that the skeptics have, then I say, forget 'em, and consider the artifact to be authentic. (And forgive me for being a broken record, but please be sure you understand what is meant here by "authentic," as explained in italics and bold print at the beginning of this blog post.)

PS My dear readers, please consider clicking on some of the ads while you're here. It would be a great help to me. And as always, thank you very much for visiting my blog!