Extracts from The Book of Numbers:
The Earth is a small blue planet in a solar system governed by a yellow dwarf star. The Earth appears diminished from the surface of its moon, shrinks to the size of a sequin seen from the mountains of Mars, and beyond the shores of Neptune the Earth makes no impression at all.
1. Those most often eaten in anger, including the brazen Ginger Nut and the gaudy Brandy Snap, also the grumbling Garibaldi, the sinister Bourbon, the gritted Fig Roll, the anaemic Arrowroot and Petit Beurre; the Viennese Whirl and recalcitrant Wafer.
2. Those eaten more in sorrow, most especially the ominous Custard Cream and Raspberry Shortcake, the malevolent Malted Milk, the spiked Iced Gem and the cindery Oreo, also the pimpled Lincoln, the ghostly Peek Frean Marie and bumbling Petit Ecolier.
One: Those who can levitate Two: Those who raise their skirts and dance before a mirror Three: Those who dream of the circus
The First Strength: Called the Slight or Passing. Symptoms include yawning, sighing, flushing, fidgeting and foreboding.
The Second Strength: Called the Bumper or Grinder. Symptoms include sobbing, shrieking, palpitations, blurred vision, vertigo.
The Third Strength: Called the Cruel Vice, Iron Fist or Crippler. Symptoms may include hallucinations, demonic possessions, levitating, talking in tongues.
The Fourth Strength: Called the Widow-Maker or Night Butcher. Symptoms include manifestation of ectoplasm, insidious flatulence, spontaneous combustion, patricide in women, lactation in men.
The First Kingdom: Those beasts with the ability to dream inhabit the first kingdom and they include the dog, the snail and the buffalo.
The Third Kingdom: Those maddened by their own reflection belong to the third kingdom, including in particular the giraffe and the dromedary, the porcupine and the giant clam.
The Fifth Kingdom: Animals that dread the future distinguish the fourth kingdom, especially the elk and the forest elephant, the walrus and the manatee.
One: Shadows that cling to ceilings Two: Shadows that dance with one another Three: Shadows that possess their own shadows Four: Shadows that assume the shape of birds Five: Shadows that glow in the dark Six: Shadows that whisper to strangers Seven: Shadows that stalk one another Eight: Solitary shadows Nine: Shadows with evil intentions
One: The Churning Swan Two: The Captive Saddle Three: The Chattering Scissors Four: The Devil’s Strappado Five: The Pestle Surrenders Six: The Quarrelsome Goldfish Seven: The Cruel Postillion Eight: The Hissing Cockroach Nine: The Anvil’s Regret Ten: The Insistent Blindfold Eleven: The Rampant Windlass Twelve: The Silken Executioner
Extracts from The Bestiary:
Pity the three-hearted cuttlefish, that green-blooded privateer, knobbly as a scrotum, so shocked at the sight of her own appearance, that she fled, a fugitive from herself, a master of disguise, employing her eight tangled arms to assume the attitudes of rocks, corals and miscellaneous crustaceans.
The cuttlefish is a nervous creature, prone to blushing and weeping ink. Her bundles of black eggs are called sea grapes by those who eat them.
Aristotle was fond of cuttlefish.
But something always seems to happen. Time after time. Swine after swine. Generation after generation. There are too many distractions. The sweet smell of fermenting apples. Acorns. Truffles. Yams. Potatoes. She grunts and shovels the earth in excitement, her buttocks twitch like a wanton matron. And so it continues. The days of feasting. The night of knives.
Extract from The Anatomy of Man:
5. The diarist Samuel Pepys, upon his death, was found to have harboured a nest of seven stones in his left kidney, which had caused him great discomfort. It is honestly reported that the master surgeon, Thomas Hollier, had earlier in the patient’s life, removed a stone from his bladder the size of a tennis ball.
6. Stones are said to generate dark and violent Humours in those afflicted. Caesar Augustus, the Roman Emperor, suffered great torment from the movement of his stones. Herod the Great, son of Antipater the Idimaean, ruler of Judea, was crippled by crystals obstructing his kidneys, Peter the Great of All the Russias was enraged by them and Napoleon’s kidneys - having filled with gravel - eventually poisoned him.
Extract from The Taxonomy:
A spate of razors A ditty-box of bandages A dawdle of soaps A flight of toothbrushes A parliament of combs A stupor of towels A cupidity of gargles An upstart of shaving brushes A lechery of mirrors A rumpus of hair pins A protestation of pomades
Extract from The Miscellanies:
Dreams containing lame beggars, cockroaches, comets, blizzards, concubines, beehives, famine, drowning, hunting, flying machines and suffocating:
Dreams containing jugglers, fire-eaters, skeletons, mermaids, porpoises, flails, nails, strapados, velvet gloves, elephant cavalry, musicians and wolf hounds:
Dreams containing graveyards, goldfish, porcupines, pantry-boys, flies, pin cushions, pike, dung, church bells and Belgian lace:
Dreams containing pepper, pearls, knife grinders, organ grinders, vagabonds, mechanical birds, serpents, silk ribbons and starfish:
Extract from The Book of Numbers:
Luctator - 20th January - 18th February. The sign of the Wrestler. Ruler: the large intestine. Element: soot. Birthstone: alexandrite. Colour: nankeen. Personality: exasperation. Strength: the ability to play the trumpet. Weakness: dread of casement windows. Those born under the influence: Jacques Prevert, Claes Oldenburg, Francois Rabelais, Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart, Jules Verne, Lewis Carroll, Kim Jong-il, Pol Pot, William Henry Harrison, ninth president of the United States.
Cocodilus - 23rd October - 21st November. The sign of the Crocodile. Ruler: the oesophagus. Element: salt. Birthstone: obsidian. Colour: deep grey. Personality: hyperventilation. Strength: the gift of talking with statues. Weakness: paranoia. Those born under the influence: Roy Rogers, Pablo Picasso, Joseph Goebbels, Leon Trotsky.