Everett Greene

If I Were a Bell

Leggi il Testo,la Traduzione in Italiano, scopri il Significato e guarda il Video musicale di If I Were a Bell di Everett Greene contenuta nell'album My Foolish Heart. “If I Were a Bell” è una canzone di Everett Greene. If I Were a Bell Lyrics.

TESTO - Everett Greene - If I Were a Bell


TESTO - Everett Greene - If I Were a Bell

I think I would make a very good astronaut.

To be a good astronaut you have to be intelligent and I'm intelligent. You also have to understand how machines work and I'm good at understanding how machines work. You also have to be someone who would like being on their own in a tiny spacecraft thousands and thousands of miles away from the surface of the earth and not panic or get claustrophobia or homesick or insane. And I like really little spaces, so long as there is no one else in them with me. Sometimes when I want to be on my own I get into the airing cupboard outside the bathroom and slide in beside the boiler and pull the door closed behind me and sit there and think for hours and it makes me feel very calm.

So I would have to be an astronaut on my own, or have my own part of the spacecraft which no one else could come into. And also there are no yellow things or brown things in a spacecraft, so that would be OK, too. And I would have to talk to other people from Mission Control, but we would do that through a radio linkup and a TV monitor, so they wouldn't be like real people who are strangers, but it would be like playing a computer game.

Also I wouldn't be homesick at all because I'd be surrounded by lots of the things I like, which are machines and computers and outer space. And I would be able to look out of a little window in the spacecraft and know that there was no one else near me for thousands and thousands of miles, which is what I sometimes pretend at night in the summer when I go and lie on the lawn and look up at the sky and I put my hands round the sides of my face so that I can't see the fence and the chimney and the washing line and I can pretend I'm in space. And all I could see would be stars. And stars are the places where the molecules that life is made of were constructed billions of years ago. For example, all the iron in your blood which stops you from being anemic was made in a star.

And I would like it if I could take Toby with me into space, and that might be allowed because they sometimes do take animals into space for experiments, so if I could think of a good experiment you could do with a rat that didn't hurt the rat, I could make them let me take Toby.
But if they didn't let me I would still go because it would be a Dream Come True.

The next day at school I told Siobhan that Father had told me I couldn't do any more detecting, which meant that the book was finished. I showed her the pages I had written so far, with the diagram of the universe and the map of the street and the prime numbers. And she said that it didn't matter. She said the book was really good as it was and that I should be very proud of having written a book at all, even if it was quite short and there were some very good books which were very short like Heart of Darkness, which was by Conrad.

But I said that it wasn't a proper book because it didn't have a proper ending because I never found out who killed Wellington so the murderer was still At Large. And she said that was like life, and not all murders were solved and not all murderers were caught. Like Jack the Ripper.
I said I didn't like the idea that the murderer was still At Large. I said I didn't like to think that the person who killed Wellington could be living somewhere nearby and I might meet him when I went out for a walk at night. And this was possible because a murder was usually committed
by a person who was known to the victim. Then I said, "Father said I was never to mention Mr. Shears's name in our house again and
that he was an evil man and maybe that meant he was the person who killed Wellington."

And she said, "Perhaps your father just doesn't like Mr. Shears very much."
And I asked, "Why?"
And she said, "I don't know, Christopher. I don't know because I don't know anything about Mr. Shears."
I said, "Mr. Shears used to be married to Mrs. Shears and he left her, like in a divorce. But I don't know if they were actually divorced."
And Siobhan said, "Well, Mrs. Shears is a friend of yours, isn't she. A friend of you and your father. So perhaps your father doesn't like Mr. Shears because he left Mrs. Shears. Because he did something bad to someone who is a friend."
And I said, "But Father says Mrs. Shears isn't a friend of ours anymore."
And Siobhan said, "I'm sorry, Christopher. I wish I could answer all these questions, but I simply don't know."
Then the bell went for the end of school.
The next day I saw 4 yellow cars in a row on the way to school, which made it a Black Day, so I didn't eat anything at lunch and I sat in the corner of the room all day and read my A-level maths course book. And the next day, too, I saw 4 yellow cars in a row on the way to school,
which made it another Black Day too, so I didn't speak to anyone and for the whole afternoon I sat in the corner of the Library groaning with my head pressed into the join between the two walls and this made me feel calm and safe. But on the third day I kept my eyes closed all the way to school until we got off the bus because after I have had 2 Black Days in a row I'm allowed to do that.
But it wasn't the end of the book because five days later I saw 5 red cars in a row, which made it a Super Good Day, and I knew that something special was going to happen. Nothing special happened at school so I knew something special was going to happen after school. And when I got home I went down to the shop at the end of our road to buy some licorice laces and a Milky Bar with my pocket money. And when I had bought my licorice laces and a Milky Bar I turned round and saw Mrs. Alexander, the old lady from number 39, who was in the shop as well. She wasn't wearing jeans now. She was wearing a dress like a normal old lady. And she smelled of cooking. She said, "What happened to you the other day?"

I asked, "Which day?"
And she said, "I came out again and you'd gone. I had to eat all the biscuits myself."
I said, "I went away."
And she said, "I gathered that."
I said, "I thought you might ring the police."
And she said, "Why on earth would I do that?"
And I said, "Because I was poking my nose into other people's business and Father said I shouldn't investigate who killed Wellington. And a policeman gave me a caution and if I get into trouble again it will be a lot worse because of the caution."

Then the Indian lady behind the counter said to Mrs. Alexander, "Can I help you?" and Mrs. Alexander said she'd like a pint of milk and a packet of Jaffa cakes and I went out of the shop. When I was outside the shop I saw that Mrs. Alexander's dachshund was sitting on the pavement. It was wearing a little coat made out of tartan material, which is Scottish and check. She had tied its lead to the drainpipe next to the door. I like dogs, so I bent down and I said hello to her dog and it licked my hand. Its tongue was rough and wet and it liked the smell on my trousers and started sniffing them. Then Mrs. Alexander came outside and said, "His name is Ivor."

I didn't say anything.
And Mrs. Alexander said, "You're very shy, aren't you, Christopher."
And I said, "I'm not allowed to talk to you."
And she said, "Don't worry. I'm not going to tell the police and I'm not going to tell your father, because there's nothing wrong with having a chat. Having a chat is just being friendly, isn't it."
I said, "I can't do chatting."
Then she said, "Do you like computers?"
And I said, "Yes. I like computers. I have a computer at home in my bedroom."
And she said, "I know. I can see you sitting at your computer in your bedroom sometimes when I look across the street."
Then she untied Ivor's lead from the drainpipe.
I wasn't going to say anything because I didn't want to get into trouble. Then I thought that this was a Super Good Day and something special hadn't happened yet, so it was possible that talking to Mrs. Alexander was the special thing that was going to happen. And I thought that she might tell me something about Wellington or about Mr. Shears without me asking her, so that wouldn't be breaking my promise So I said, "And I like maths and looking after Toby. And also I like outer space and I like being on my own."

And she said, "I bet you're very good at maths, aren't you."
And I said, "I am. I'm going to do my A-level maths next month. And I'm going to get an A grade."
And Mrs. Alexander said, "Really? A-level maths?"
I replied, "Yes. I don't tell lies."
And she said, "I apologize. I didn't mean to suggest that you were lying. I just wondered if I heard you correctly. I'm a little deaf sometimes."
And I said, "I remember. You told me." And then I said, "I'm the first person to do an A level from my school because it's a special school."
And she said, "Well, I am very impressed. And I hope you do get an A."
And I said, "I will."
Then she said, "And the other thing I know about you is that your favorite color is not yellow."
And I said, "No. And it's not brown either. My favorite color is red. And metal color."
Then Ivor did a poo and Mrs. Alexander picked it up with her hand inside a little plastic bag and then she turned the plastic bag inside out and tied a knot in the top so that the poo was all sealed up and she didn't touch the poo with her hands.

And then I did some reasoning. I reasoned that Father had only made me do a promise about five things, which were
1. Not to mention Mr. Shears's name in our house
2. Not to go asking Mrs. Shears about who killed that bloody dog
3. Not to go asking anyone about who killed that bloody dog
4. Not to go trespassing in other people's gardens
5. To stop this ridiculous bloody detective game
And asking about Mr. Shears wasn't any of these things.
And if you are a detective you have to Take Risks, and this was a Super Good Day, which meant it was a good day for Taking Risks, so I said, "Do you know Mr. Shears?" which was like chatting.

And Mrs. Alexander said, "Not really, no. I mean, I knew him well enough to say hello and talk to a little in the street, but I didn't know much about him. I think he worked in a bank. The National Westminster. In town."

And I said, "Father says that he is an evil man. Do you know why he said that? Is Mr. Shears an evil man?"
And Mrs. Alexander said, "Why are you asking me about Mr. Shears, Christopher?"
I didn't say anything because I didn't want to be investigating Wellington's murder and that was the reason I was asking about Mr. Shears.
But Mrs. Alexander said, "Is this about Wellington?"

And I nodded because that didn't count as being a detective.
Mrs. Alexander didn't say anything. She walked to the little red box on a pole next to the gate to the park and she put Ivor's poo into the box, which was a brown thing inside a red thing, which made my head feel funny so I didn't look. Then she walked back to me.
She sucked in a big breath and said, "Perhaps it would be best not to talk about these things, Christopher."
And I asked, "Why not?"
And she said, "Because." Then she stopped and decided to start saying a different sentence. "Because maybe your father is right and you shouldn't go around asking questions about this."
And I asked, "Why?"
And she said, "Because obviously he is going to find it quite upsetting."
And I said, "Why is he going to find it upsetting?"
Then she sucked in another big breath and said, "Because. . . because I think you know why your father doesn't like Mr. Shears very much."
Then I asked, "Did Mr. Shears kill Mother?"
And Mrs. Alexander said, "Kill her?"
And I said, "Yes. Did he kill Mother?"
And Mrs. Alexander said, "No. No. Of course he didn't kill your mother."
And I said, "But did he give her stress so that she died of a heart attack?"
And Mrs. Alexander said, "I honestly don't know what you're talking about, Christopher."
And I said, "Or did he hurt her so that she had to go into hospital?"
And Mrs. Alexander said, "Did she have to go into hospital?"
And I said, "Yes. And it wasn't very serious at first, but she had a heart attack when she was in hospital."
And Mrs. Alexander said, "Oh my goodness."
I said, "And she died."
And Mrs. Alexander said "Oh my goodness" again, and then she said, "Oh, Christopher, I am so, so sorry. I never realized."
Then I asked her, "Why did you say '
I think you know why your father doesn't like Mr. Shears very much'?"

Mrs. Alexander put her hand over her mouth and said, "Oh dear, dear, dear." But she didn't answer my question.
So I asked her the same question again, because in a murder mystery novel when someone doesn't want to answer a question it is because they are trying to keep a secret or trying to stop someone from getting into trouble, which means that the answers to those questions are the most important answers of all, and that is why the detective has to put that person under pressure.

But Mrs. Alexander still didn't answer. Instead she asked me a question. She said, "So you don't know?"
And I said, "Don't know what?"
She replied, "Christopher, look, I probably shouldn't be telling you this." Then she said, "Perhaps we should take a little walk in the park together. This is not the place to be talking about this kind of thing."

I was nervous. I did not know Mrs. Alexander. I knew that she was an old lady and that she liked dogs. But she was a stranger. And I never go into the park on my own because it is dangerous and people inject drugs behind the public toilets in the corner. I wanted to go home and go up to my room and feed Toby and practice some maths.

But I was excited, too. Because I thought she might tell me a secret. And the secret might be about who killed Wellington. Or about Mr. Shears. And if she did that I might have more evidence against him, or be able to Exclude Him from My Investigations. So because it was a Super Good Day I decided to walk into the park with Mrs. Alexander, even though it scared me. When we were inside the park Mrs. Alexander stopped walking and said, "I am going to say something to you and you must promise not to tell your father that I told you this."

I asked, "Why?"
And she said, "I shouldn't have said what I said. And if I don't explain, you'll carry on wondering what I meant. And you might ask your father. And I don't want you to do that because I don't want you to upset him. So I'm going to explain why I said what I said. But before I do that you have to promise not to tell anyone I said this to you."

I asked, "Why?"
And she said, "Christopher, please, just trust me."
And I said, "I promise." Because if Mrs. Alexander told me who killed Wellington, or she told me that Mr. Shears had really killed Mother, I could still go to the police and tell them because you are allowed to break a promise if someone has committed a crime and you know about it.
And Mrs. Alexander said, "Your mother, before she died, was very good friends with Mr. Shears."

And I said, "I know."
And she said, "No, Christopher. I'm not sure that you do. I mean that they were very good friends. Very, very good friends."
I thought about this for a while and said, "Do you mean that they were doing sex?"
And Mrs. Alexander said, "Yes, Christopher. That is what I mean."
Then she didn't say anything for about 30 seconds. Then she said, "I'm sorry, Christopher. I really didn't mean to say anything that was going to upset you. But I wanted to explain. Why I said what I said. You see, I thought you knew. That's why your father thinks that Mr. Shears is
an evil man. And that will be why he doesn't want you going around talking to people about Mr. Shears. Because that will bring back bad memories."
And I said, "Was that why Mr. Shears left Mrs. Shears, because he was doing sex with someone else when he was married to Mrs. Shears?"
And Mrs. Alexander said, "Yes, I expect so."
Then she said, "I'm sorry, Christopher. I really am."
And I said, "I think I should go now."
And she said, "Are you OK, Christopher?"
And I said, "I'm scared of being in the park with you because you're a stranger."
And she said, "I'm not a stranger, Christopher, I'm a friend."

And I said, "I'm going to go home now."
And she said, "If you want to talk about this you can come and see me anytime you want.
You only have to knock on my door."
And I said, "OK."
And she said, "Christopher?"
And I said, "What?"
And she said, "You won't tell your father about this conversation, will you?"
And I said, "No. I promised."
And she said, "You go on home. And remember what I said. Anytime."
Then I went home.

Mr. Jeavons said that I liked maths because it was safe. He said I liked maths because it meant solving problems, and these problems were difficult and interesting but there was always a straightforward answer at the end. And what he meant was that maths wasn't like life because
in life there are no straightforward answers at the end. I know he meant this because this is what he said.
This is because Mr. Jeavons doesn't understand numbers.

Here is a famous story called The Monty Hall Problem which I have included in this book because it illustrates what I mean.
There used to be a column called Ask Marilyn in a magazine called Parade in America. And this column was written by Marilyn vos Savant and in the magazine it said that she had the highest IQ in the world in the Guinness Book of World Records Hall of Fame. And in the column she answered maths questions sent in by readers. And in September 1990 this question was sent in by Craig F. Whitaker of Columbia, Maryland (but it is not what is called a direct quote because I have made it simpler and easier to understand)

You are on a game show on television. On this game show the idea is to win a car as a prize. The game show host shows you three doors. He says that there is a car behind one of the doors and there are goats behind the other two doors. He asks you to pick a door. You pick a door but the door is not opened. Then the game show host opens one of the doors you didn't pick to show a goat (because he knows what is behind the doors). Then he says that you have one final chance to change your mind before the doors are opened and you get a car or a goat. So he asks you if you want to change your mind and pick the other unopened door instead. What should you do?

Marilyn vos Savant said that you should always change and pick the final door because the chances are 2 in 3 that there will be a car behind that door. But if you use your intuition you think that chance is 50-50 because you think there is an equal chance that the car is behind any door. Lots of people wrote to the magazine to say that Marilyn vos Savant was wrong, even when she explained very carefully why she was right. Of the letters she got about the problem, 92% said that she was wrong and lots of these were from mathematicians and scientists. Here are
some of the things that they said

I'm very concerned with the general public's lack of mathematical skills. Please help by confessing your error.
-- Robert Sachs, Ph.D., George Mason University

There is enough mathematical illiteracy in this country, and we don't need the world's highest IQ propagating more. Shame!
-- Scott Smith, Ph.D., University of Florida

I am in shock that after being corrected by at least three mathematicians, you still do not see your mistake.
-- Kent Ford, Dickinson State University

I am sure you will receive many letters from high school and college students. Perhaps you should keep a few addresses for help with future columns.
-- W. Robert Smith, Ph.D., Georgia State University

You are utterly incorrect... How many irate mathematicians are needed to get you to change your mind?
-- E. Ray Bobo, Ph.D., Georgetown University

If all those Ph.D.'s were wrong, the country would be in very serious trouble.
-- Everett Harman, Ph.D., U.S. Army Research Institute

But Marilyn vos Savant was right. And here are 2 ways you can show this.
Firstly you can do it by maths like this

Let the doors be called X, Y and Z.
Let Cx be the event that the car is behind door X and so on.
Let Hx be the event that the host opens door X and so on.
Supposing that you choose door X, the possibility that you win a car if you then
switch your choice is given by the following formula
P(Hz ^ Cy) + P(Hy ^ Cz)
= P(Cy)·P (Hz ¦ Cy) + P(Cz)·P(Hy ¦ Cz)
= (1/3 · 1) + (1/3 · 1) = 2/3

So if you change, 2 times out of 3 you get a car. And if you stick, you only get a car 1 time out of 3.
And this shows that intuition can sometimes get things wrong. And intuition is what people use in life to make decisions. But logic can help you work out the right answer. It also shows that Mr. Jeavons was wrong and numbers are sometimes very complicated and not very straightforward at all. And that is why I like The Monty Hall Problem.

When I got home Rhodri was there. Rhodri is the man who works for Father, helping him do heating maintenance and boiler repair. And he sometimes comes round to the house in the evening to drink beer with Father and watch the television and have a conversation. Rhodri was wearing a pair of white dungarees which had dirty marks all over them and he had a gold ring on the middle finger of his left hand and he smelled of something I do not know the name of which Father often smells of when he comes home from work. I put my licorice laces and my Milky Bar in my special food box on the shelf, which Father is not allowed to touch because it is mine.

Then Father said, "And what have you been up to, young man?"
And I said, "I went to the shop to get some licorice laces and a Milky Bar."
And he said, "You were a long time."
And I said, "I talked to Mrs. Alexander's dog outside the shop. And I stroked him and he sniffed my trousers." Which was another white lie.
Then Rhodri said to me, "God, you do get the third degree, don't you."

But I didn't know what the third degree was.
And he said, "So, how are you doing, captain?"
And I said, "I'm doing very well, thank you," which is what you're meant to say.
And he said, "What's 251 times 864?"
And I thought about this and I said,"216,864." Because it was a really easy sum because you just multiply 864 X 1,000,which is 864,000. Then you divide it by 4, which is 216,000, and that's 250 X 864. Then you just add another 864 onto it to get 251 X 864. And that's 216,864.
And I said, "Is that right?"
And Rhodri said, "I haven't got a bloody clue," and he laughed.
I don't like it when Rhodri laughs at me. Rhodri laughs at me a lot. Father says it is being friendly.
Then Father said, "I'll stick one of those Gobi Aloo Sag things in the oven for you, OK?"
This is because I like Indian food because it has a strong taste. But Gobi Aloo Sag is yellow, so I put red food coloring into it before I eat it. And I keep a little plastic bottle of this in my special food box.
And I said, "OK."
And Rhodri said, "So, it looks like Parky stitched them up, then?" But this was to Father, not to me.
And Father said, "Well, those circuit boards looked like they'd come out of the bloody ark."
And Rhodri said, "You going to tell them?"
And Father said, "What's the point? They're hardly going to take him to court, are they?"

And Rhodri said, "That'll be the day."
And Father said, "Best to let sleeping dogs lie, I reckon."
Then I went into the garden.
Siobhan said that when you are writing a book you have to include some descriptions of things. I said that I could take photographs and put them in the book. But she said the idea of a book was to describe things using words so that people could read them and make a picture in
their own head. And she said it was best to describe things that were interesting or different. She also said that I should describe people in the story by mentioning one or two details about them so that people could make a picture of them in their head. Which is why I wrote about Mr. Jeavons's shoes with all the holes in them and the policeman who looked as if he had two mice in his nose and the thing Rhodri smelled of but I didn't know the name for. So I decided to do a description of the garden. But the garden wasn't very interesting or different. It was just a garden, with grass and a shed and a clothesline. But the sky was interesting and different because usually skies look boring because they are all blue or all gray or all covered in one pattern of clouds and they don't look like they are hundreds of miles above your head. They look like someone might have painted them on a big roof. But this sky had lots of different types of clouds in it at different heights, so you could see how big it was and this made it look enormous. Furthest away in the sky were lots of little white clouds which looked like fish scales or sand
dunes which had a very regular pattern. Then next furthest away and to the west were some big clouds which were colored slightly orange because it was nearly evening and the sun was going down. Then closest to the ground was a huge cloud which was colored gray because it was a rain
cloud. And it was a big pointy shape and it looked like this.

And when I looked at it for a long time I could see it moving very slowly and it was like an alien spaceship hundreds of kilometers long, like in Dune or Blake's 7 or Close Encounters of the Third Kind, except that it wasn't made of solid material, it was made of droplets of condensed water vapor, which is what clouds are made of. And it could have been an alien spaceship. People think that alien spaceships would be solid and made of metal and have lights all over them and move slowly through the sky because that is how we would build a spaceship if we were able to build one that big. But aliens, if they exist, would probably be very different from us. They might look like big slugs, or be flat like reflections. Or they might be bigger than planets. Or they might not have bodies at all. They might just be information, like in a computer.
And their spaceships might look like clouds, or be made up of unconnected objects like dust or leaves.

Then I listened to the sounds in the garden and I could hear a bird singing and I could hear traffic noise which was like the surf on a beach and I could hear someone playing music somewhere and children shouting. And in between these noises, if I listened very carefully and stood completely still, I could hear a tiny whining noise inside my ears and the air going in and out of my nose.

Then I sniffed the air to see if I could see what the air in the garden smelled like. But I couldn't smell anything. It smelled of nothing. And this was interesting, too. Then I went inside and fed Toby.

The Hound of the Baskervilles is my favorite book.
In The Hound of the Baskervilles, Sherlock Holmes and Doctor Watson get a visit from James Mortimer, who is a doctor from the moors in Devon. James Mortimer's friend, Sir Charles Baskerville, has died of a heart attack and James Mortimer thinks that he might have been scared to death. James Mortimer also has an ancient scroll which describes the curse of the Baskervilles.

On this scroll it says that Sir Charles Baskerville had an ancestor called Sir Hugo Baskerville, who was a wild, profane and godless man. And he tried to do sex with a daughter of a yeoman, but she escaped and he chased her across the moor. And his friends, who were daredevil roisterers, chased after him. And when they found him, the daughter of the yeoman had died of exhaustion and fatigue. And they saw a great black beast, shaped like a hound yet larger than any hound that ever mortal eye has rested on, and this hound was tearing the throat out of Sir Hugo Baskerville. And one of the friends died of fear that very night and the other two were broken men for the rest of their days.
James Mortimer thinks that the Hound of the Baskervilles might have scared Sir Charles to death and he is worried that his son and heir, Sir Henry Baskerville, will be in danger when he goes to the hall in Devon.

So Sherlock Holmes sends Doctor Watson to Devon with Sir Henry Baskerville and James Mortimer. And Doctor Watson tries to work out who might have killed Sir Charles Baskerville. And Sherlock Holmes says he will stay in London, but he travels to Devon secretly and does investigations of his own. And Sherlock Holmes finds out that Sir Charles was killed by a neighbor called Stapleton who is a butterfly collector and a distant relation of the Baskervilles. And Stapleton is poor, so he tries to kill Sir Henry Baskerville so that he will inherit the hall. In order to do this he has brought a huge dog from London and covered it in phosphorus to make it glow in the dark, and it was this dog which scared Sir Charles Baskerville to death. And Sherlock Holmes and Watson and Lestrade from Scotland Yard catch him. And Sherlock Holmes and Watson shoot the dog, which is one of the dogs which gets killed in the story, which is not nice because it is not the dog's fault. And Stapleton escapes into the Grimpen Mire, which is part of the moor, and he dies because he is sucked into a bog.

There are some bits of the story I don't like. One bit is the ancient scroll because it is written in old language which is difficult to understand, like this Learn then from this story not to fear the fruits of the past, but rather to be circumspect in the future, that those foul passions whereby our family has suffered so grievously may not again be loosed to our undoing.

And sometimes Sir Arthur Conan Doyle (who is the author) describes people like this There was something subtly wrong with the face, some coarseness of expression, some hardness, perhaps of eye, some looseness of lip which marred its perfect beauty. And I don't know what some hardness, perhaps of eye means, and I'm not interested in faces.

But sometimes it is fun not knowing what the words mean because you can look them up in a dictionary, like goyal (which is a deep dip) or tors (which are hills or rocky heights). I like The Hound of the Baskervilles because it is a detective story, which means that
there are clues and Red Herrings. These are some of the clues

1. Two of Sir Henry Baskerville's boots go missing when he is staying at a hotel in London. This means that someone wants to give them to the Hound of the Baskervilles to smell, like a bloodhound, so that it can chase him. This means that the Hound of the Baskervilles is not a
supernatural being but a real dog.

2. Stapleton is the only person who knows how to get through the Grimpen Mire and he tells Watson to stay out of it for his own safety. This means that he is hiding something in the middle of the Grimpen Mire and doesn't want anyone else to find it.

3. Mrs. Stapleton tells Doctor Watson to "go straight back to London instantly." This is because she thinks Doctor Watson is Sir Henry Baskerville and she knows that her husband wants to kill him.

And these are some of the Red Herrings
1. Sherlock Holmes and Watson are followed when they are in London by a man in a coach with a black beard. This makes you think that the man is Barrymore, who is the caretaker at Baskerville Hall, because he is the only other person who has a black beard. But the man is really Stapleton, who is wearing a false beard.

2. Selden, the Netting Hill murderer. This is a man who has escaped from a prison nearby and is being hunted down on the moors, which makes you think that he has something to do with the story, because he is a criminal, but he hasn't anything to do with the story at all.

3. The Man on the Tor. This is a silhouette of a man that Doctor Watson sees on the moor at night and doesn't recognize, which makes you think it is the murderer. But it is Sherlock Holmes who has come to Devon secretly. I also like The Hound of the Baskervilles because I like Sherlock Holmes and I think that if I were a proper detective he is the kind of detective I would be. He is very intelligent and he solves the mystery and he says The world is full of obvious things which nobody by any chance ever observes.

But he notices them, like I do. Also it says in the book Sherlock Holmes had, in a very remarkable degree, the power of detaching his mind at will. And this is like me, too, because if I get really interested in something, like practicing maths, or reading a book about the Apollo missions or great white sharks, I don't notice anything else and Father can be calling me to come and eat my supper and I won't hear him. And this is why I am very good at playing chess, because I detach my mind at will and concentrate on the board and after a while the person I am playing will stop concentrating and start scratching their nose, or staring out of the window, and then they will make a mistake and I will win.
Also Doctor Watson says about Sherlock Holmes His mind... was busy in endeavouring to frame some scheme into which all these strange and apparently disconnected episodes could be fitted. And that is what I am trying to do by writing this book.

Also Sherlock Holmes doesn't believe in the supernatural, which is God and fairy tales and Hounds of Hell and curses, which are stupid things.
And I am going to finish this chapter with two interesting facts about Sherlock Holmes

1. In the original Sherlock Holmes stories Sherlock Holmes is never described as wearing a deerstalker hat, which is what he is always wearing in pictures and cartoons. The deerstalker hat was invented by a man called Sidney Paget, who did the illustrations for the original books.

2. In the original Sherlock Holmes stories Sherlock Holmes never says "Elementary, my dear Watson." He only ever says this in films and on the television.

That night I wrote some more of my book, and the next morning I took it into school so that Siobhan could read it and tell me if I had made mistakes with the spelling and the grammar. Siobhan read the book during morning break when she has a cup of coffee and sits at the edge of the playground with the other teachers. And after morning break she came and sat down next to me and said she had read the bit about my conversation with Mrs. Alexander and she said, "Have you told your father about this?"

And I replied, "No."
And she said, "Are you going to tell your father about this?"
And I replied, "No."
And she said, "Good. I think that's a good idea, Christopher." And then she said, "Did it make you sad to find this out?"
And I asked, "Find what out?"
And she said, "Did it make you upset to find out that your mother and Mr. Shears had an affair?"
And I said, "No."
And she said, "Are you telling the truth, Christopher?"
And then I said, "I always tell the truth."

And she said, "I know you do, Christopher. But sometimes we get sad about things and we don't like to tell other people that we are sad about them. We like to keep it a secret. Or sometimes we are sad but we don't really know we are sad. So we say we aren't sad. But really we are."
And I said, "I'm not sad."
And she said, "If you do start to feel sad about this, I want you to know that you can come and talk to me about it. Because I think talking to me will help you feel less sad. And if you don't feel sad but you just want to talk to me about it, that would be OK, too. Do you understand?"
And I said, "I understand."
And she said, "Good."

And I replied, "But I don't feel sad about it. Because Mother is dead. And because Mr. Shears isn't around anymore. So I would be feeling sad about something that isn't real and doesn't exist. And that would be stupid."
And then I practiced maths for the rest of the morning and at lunch I didn't have the quiche because it was yellow, but I did have the carrots and the peas and lots of tomato ketchup. And for afters I had some blackberry and apple crumble, but not the crumble bit because that was yellow, too, and I got Mrs. Davis to take the crumble bit off before she put it onto my plate because it doesn't matter if different sorts of food are touching before they are actually on your plate.
Then, after lunch, I spent the afternoon doing art with Mrs. Peters and I painted some pictures of aliens which looked like this.


My memory is like a film. That is why I am really good at remembering things, like the conversations I have written down in this book, and what people were wearing, and what they smelled like, because my memory has a smelltrack which is like a soundtrack. And when people ask me to remember something I can simply press Rewind and Fast Forward and Pause like on a video recorder, but more like a DVD player because I don't have to Rewind through everything in between to get to a memory of something a long time ago. And there are no buttons, either, because it is happening in my head. If someone says to me, "Christopher, tell me what your mother was like," I can Rewind to lots of different scenes and say what she was like in those scenes. For example, I could Rewind to 4 July 1992 when I was 9 years old, which was a Saturday, and we were on holiday in Cornwall and in the afternoon we were on the beach in a place called Polperro. And Mother was wearing a pair of shorts made out of denim and a light blue bikini top and she was smoking cigarettes called Consulate which were mint flavor. And she wasn't swimming. Mother was sunbathing on a towel which had red and purple stripes and she was reading a book by Georgette Heyer called The Masqueraders. And then she finished sunbathing and went into the water to swim and she said, "Bloody Nora, it's cold." And she said I should come and swim, too, but I don't like swimming because I don't like taking my clothes off. And she said I should just roll up my trousers and walk into the water a little way, so I did. And I stood in the water. And Mother said, "Look. It's lovely." And she jumped backward and disappeared under the water and I thought a shark had eaten her and I screamed and she stood up out of the water again and came over to where I was standing and held up her right
hand and spread her fingers out in a fan and said, "Come on, Christopher, touch my hand. Come on now. Stop screaming. Touch my hand. Listen to me, Christopher. You can do it."

And after a while I stopped screaming and I held up my left hand and spread my fingers out in a fan and we made our fingers and thumbs touch each other and Mother said, "It's OK, Christopher. It's OK. There aren't any sharks in Cornwall," and then I felt better. Except I can't remember anything before I was about 4 because I wasn't looking at things in the right way before then, so they didn't get recorded properly.
And this is how I recognize someone if I don't know who they are. I see what they are wearing, or if they have a walking stick, or funny hair, or a certain type of glasses, or they have a particular way of moving their arms, and I do a Search through my memories to see if I have met them before.

And this is also how I know how to act in difficult situations when I don't know what to do. For example, if people say things which don't make sense, like, "See you later, alligator," or "You'll catch your death in that," I do a Search and see if I have ever heard someone say this
before. And if someone is lying on the floor at school, I do a Search through my memory to find a picture of someone having an epileptic fit and then I compare the picture with what is happening in front of me so I can decide whether they are just lying down and playing a game, or having a sleep, or whether they are having an epileptic fit. And if they are having an epileptic fit, I move any furniture out of the way to stop them from banging their head and I take my jumper off and I put it underneath their head and I go and find a teacher.

Other people have pictures in their heads, too. But they are different because the pictures in my head are all pictures of things which really happened. But other people have pictures in their heads of things which aren't real and didn't happen. For example, sometimes Mother used to say, "If I hadn't married your father I think I'd be living in a little farmhouse in the south of France with someone called Jean. And he'd be, ooh, a local handyman. You know, doing painting and decorating for people, gardening, building fences. And we'd have a veranda with figs growing over it and there would be a field of sunflowers at the bottom of the garden and a little town on the hill in the distance and we'd sit outside in the evening and drink red wine and smoke Gauloises cigarettes and watch the sun go down."

And Siobhan once said that when she felt depressed or sad she would close her eyes and she would imagine that she was staying in a house on Cape Cod with her friend Elly, and they would take a trip on a boat from Provincetown and go out into the bay to watch the humpback whales and that made her feel calm and peaceful and happy. And sometimes, when someone has died, like Mother died, people say, "What would you want to say to your mother if she was here now?" or "What would your mother think about that?" which is stupid because Mother is dead and you can't say anything to people who are dead and dead people can't think.

And Grandmother has pictures in her head, too, but her pictures are all confused, like someone has muddled the film up and she can't tell what happened in what order, so she thinks that dead people are still alive and she doesn't know whether something happened in real life or whether it happened on television.


When I got home from school Father was still out at work, so I unlocked the front door and went inside and took my coat off. I went into the kitchen and put my things on the table. And one of the things was this book which I had taken into school to show to Siobhan. I made myself
a raspberry milk shake and heated it up in the microwave and then went through to the living room to watch one of my Blue Planet videos about life in the deepest parts of the ocean. The video was about the sea creatures who live around sulfur chimneys, which are underwater volcanoes where gases are ejected from the earth's crust into the water. Scientists never expected there to be any living organisms there because it was so hot and so poisonous, but there are whole ecosystems there.

I like this bit because it shows you that there is always something new that science can discover, and all the facts that you take for granted can be completely wrong. And also I like the fact that they are filming in a place which is harder to get to than the top of Mount Everest but is only a few miles away from sea level. And it is one of the quietest and darkest and most secret places on the surface of the earth. And I like imagining that I am there sometimes, in a spherical metal submersible with windows that are 50 cm thick to stop them from imploding under the pressure. And I imagine that I am the only person inside it, and that it is not connected to a ship at all but can operate under its own power and I can control the motors and move anywhere I want to on the seabed and I can never be found.

Father came home at 5:48 p.m. I heard him come through the front door. Then he came into the living room. He was wearing a lime green and sky blue check shirt and there was a double knot on one of his shoes but not on the other. He was carrying an old advert for Fussell's Milk Powder which was made of metal and painted with blue and white enamel and covered with little circles of rust which were like bullet holes, but he didn't explain why he was carrying this.

He said, "Howdy, pardner," which is a joke he does.
And I said, "Hello."
I carried on watching the video and Father went into the kitchen.
I had forgotten that I had left my book lying on the kitchen table because I was too interested in the Blue Planet video. This is what is called Relaxing Your Guard, and it is what you must never do if you are a detective.

It was 5:54 p.m. when Father came back into the living room. He said, "What is this?" but he said it very quietly and I didn't realize that he was angry because he wasn't shouting.
He was holding the book in his right hand.
I said, "It's a book I'm writing."

And he said, "Is this true? Did you talk to Mrs. Alexander?" He said this very quietly as well, so I still didn't realize that he was angry.
And I said, "Yes."
Then he said, "Holy fucking Jesus, Christopher. How stupid are you?" This is what Siobhan says is called a rhetorical question. It has a question mark at the end, but you are not meant to answer it because the person who is asking it already knows the answer. It is difficult to spot a rhetorical question. Then Father said, "What the fuck did I tell you, Christopher?" This was much louder. And I replied, "Not to mention Mr. Shears's name in our house. And not to go asking Mrs. Shears, or anyone, about who killed that bloody dog. And not to go trespassing in other people's gardens. And to stop this ridiculous bloody detective game. Except I haven't done any of those things. I just asked Mrs. Alexander about Mr. Shears because -- " But Father interrupted me and said, "Don't give me that bollocks, you little shit. You knew exactly what you were bloody doing. I've read the book, remember." And when he said this he held up the book and shook it. "What else did I say, Christopher?"

I thought that this might be another rhetorical question, but I wasn't sure. I found it hard to work out what to say because I was starting to get scared and confused. Then Father repeated the question, "What else did I say, Christopher?"
I said, "I don't know."
And he said, "Come on. You're the fucking memory man."
But I couldn't think.
And Father said, "Not to go around sticking your fucking nose into other people's business.
And what do you do? You go around sticking your nose into other people's business. You go around raking up the past and sharing it with every Tom, Dick and Harry you bump into. What am I going to do with you, Christopher? What the fuck am I going to do with you?"

I said, "I was just doing chatting with Mrs. Alexander. I wasn't doing investigating."
And he said, "I ask you to do one thing for me, Christopher. One thing."
And I said, "I didn't want to talk to Mrs. Alexander. It was Mrs. Alexander who --"
But Father interrupted me and grabbed hold of my arm really hard.
Father had never grabbed hold of me like that before. Mother had hit me sometimes because she was a very hot-tempered person, which means that she got angry more quickly than other people and she shouted more often. But Father was a more levelheaded person, which means he didn't get angry as quickly and he didn't shout as often. So I was very surprised when he grabbed me.

I don't like it when people grab me. And I don't like being surprised either. So I hit him, like I hit the policeman when he took hold of my arms and lifted me onto my feet. But Father didn't let go, and he was shouting. And I hit him again. And then I didn't know what I was doing anymore.

I had no memories for a short while. I know it was a short while because I checked my watch afterward. It was like someone had switched me off and then switched me on again. And when they switched me on again I was sitting on the carpet with my back against the wall and there was blood on my right hand and the side of my head was hurting. And Father was standing on the carpet a meter in front of me looking down at me and he was still holding my book in his right hand, but it was bent in half and all the corners were messed up, and there was a scratch on his neck and a big rip in the sleeve of his green and blue check shirt and he was breathing really deeply.

After about a minute he turned and walked through to the kitchen. Then he unlocked the back door into the garden and went outside. I heard him lift the lid of the dustbin and drop something into it and put the lid of the dustbin back on. Then he came into the kitchen again, but he wasn't carrying the book anymore. Then he locked the back door again and put the key into the little china jug that is shaped like a fat nun and he stood in the middle of the kitchen and closed his eyes.

Then he opened his eyes and he said, "I need a fucking drink."
And he got himself a can of beer.

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