-------------- D IDYMUS---------------------
THE QUESTION currently exercising serious students of the e p h em e r a l (Jo h n M a jo r , Rupert Murdoch, Raymond Illingworth) is how does an outfit held together with a couple of elastic bands, and a shoebox for a database, endure itself for thirty years, and still look fresh-faced at the end of it?
LONG LIVE. . .
J O H N M O A T We are now in the year 18AD
(After D idymus).
ye gQ o
You can imagine this topb rass (especially Raymond Illingworth, unless he’s pulled his socks up between now and publication day) handing their thumbed copies of Resurgence to their quangos and se lec tio n com m ittee s , and calling for an analysis. I t ’s my view that in the ensuing discussions marginally too much emphasis is likely to be laid on the freak capacity of our Editor. T h a t ’s not to deny that they’re properly suspicious of him — so are we all. And your Murdochs, whatever else, would need to be thorough. Their intelligence will have told them that if ever our Editor were to slip through the cordon into their office, they too would be prey to the “gleam” (I refer to his gaze, a diabolical cocktail compounded in part of the naked steel of a Mogul warlord, and in part the doe-eyed “ let’s go” of one of those m i l k m a i d s w h o ’s h e a r d K rish na heading her way through the jungle). They, like so many before them, would come to in the small hours of the next morning to find that without prospect of remuneration they’d toiled to produce 2,000 words, in a positive and ecological vein entirely unfamiliar to them, to meet the 9 a.m. Resurgence deadline.
Yes, our Editor is important. And there’s no denying that his is the secret these other Captains of power boats would like to get their hands on. The secret of how unpred ictab le n o n - c a p i ta l -b a s e d means can translate into predictable results. So would we all. The best example I can give of this siddhi, or paranormal power, is the occasion on which I accompanied him, in my capacity as probationary Sports Editor, to the auction where he was to bid for the house that would become the new Resurgence HQ. There were no other bidders — whether or not this was something he had taken care of, we can argue about later. But nothing was going to prevent him from bidding. To a person of Western restraint, schooled that you don’t so much as sneeze a t an auction for fear of being landed, here was an education. The Editor, in a flurry of non-speculative delight, began to wave his arms — and the impression was that not even the Lord Siva himself could have so many, nor bring to his aerobics such energy and commitment. The auctioneer . . . he too became infected with excitement and retailed to the empty hall the rapid ascension of the bidding. When finally the Editor paused to get his breath, the property was knocked down to him. Unpredictable means: p r e d ic ta b l e r e su l ts . H e ’d bumped up the price, and still been landed with a bargain. And of course within a matter of days non-attachm ent to detail ensured manifestation of the necessary funds. He probably found the cash under a floorboard, or leaking from a chimney, or . . .
But the point I was making is that we should be careful not to overstate the Editor’s c o n t r ib u t io n to Resurgence longevity. In the Resurgence corridors in which I loiter the date celebrated as pivotal to the fortunes of the magazine is 1978. We in fact tend to measure time and events from then. So that we are now in AD 18. AD? Yes, in the year o f Didymus. Anno Didymi.
Before that date it was, as far as I can see, very much the Dark Ages. All the way back through the misty aeons to the Foundation in BD 12. Not dark, I hurry to add, in a pejorative sense. But simply because to your run-of-themill modern reader BD is a legendary phase where beings of titanic proportions (though not big, I hurry to add, in a pejorative sense) stalked the primordial pages of Resurgence, casting the shadow of their wisdom over the sickening world and its silent spring. P a p w o r t h , S c h u m a c h e r , Kohr, Seymour and the illustrious Ashe who, though not as far as I know qualified to edit a sports section, put a reserve on this page for what readers now accept as the cosmic viewpoint.
SO THEN CAME 1978. I was on reconnaissance with a friend, Jo hn Lane. Suddenly the dials blurred and we found we’d strayed off bounds into forbidden Wales. The ensuing experience was like one familiar to most Resurgence readers — of being snatched by extra-terrestrial magnetism into an alien field. Mageled we fetched up in the R esurgence command capsule, and were there exposed to the undeniable “ gleam ” . Jo hn Lane, who in those days more resembled the sleek painter and current England wicketkeeper Ja ck Russell, tends to make light of this — he says § that what undermined his re- g sistance were the welsh cakes 2, and the quality of the tea. £ L ittle odds: the situations o vacant had been Arts Editor 5 and Undercover Columnist. HC/3 And here, eighteen years la- j ter, the two of us . . . still on “ the staff.
Again we have to hand it to the Editor. Mysterious acumen to ld him w hat was needed if the circulation were to increase, and if the magazine were to retain the better class of subscriber. If this means that Didymus is ju s t a drop of gas in his high octane performance, so be it. But, and this is my point, if it weren’t for the Didymus following, the current circulation figures would tell a very different story. You question it? T he column that told the Fourth World how it could dry itself with a couple (one d am p ) o f energy-efficient face-flannels? T hat is constantly knocking on the door o f the people who hand out the Right Livelihood Awards? T h a t gave the planet the D id ym u s second Law of Diminishing Intelligence, viz: T he human brain atrophies in exact relation to the length of the instruction manual? No, he can’t take all the credit. As recently as 1992 my mailbag was inundated with fanmail. A letter from an acupuncturist in Frome, insisting that, if the Sports Page became a reality, he be allowed to cover the West Ham games. # John Moat is a poet and a painter. His latest novel is M a i ’ s Wedd in g (Collins).
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