Here it is Monday. I've got The Australian open at the opinion page and (its been a while now)... still no column by the egregious David Burchell, whose verbal pyrotechnics have many a time made merry my Mondays, as David himself may have written.
But has no one else noticed?
Well, to be frank with you, the matter's got me spooked.
You see, as one who hung on David's every word, I distinctly rememember his love of the word 'wraith'. Wraith. Now that's not a word that exactly trips off people's tongues these days. It's somewhat archaic and conjures up another, shadow world, parallel to our own, something that David seemed to manage in column after column, in fact something, if you think about it, the Australian manages on a daily basis.
But back to that word. In his 28 February column putting the boot into Edward Said, for example, he wrote of the local population at the siege of Tobruk having "vanished like wraiths." And in his column of March 14, he spoke of glancing at his watch only to discover that his "entire afternoon" had - you guessed it - "vanished like a wraith." Which, don't you think? is terribly spooky, even a tad... sinister perhaps.
And now the unthinkable seems to have happened, the etiolated David (or at least it seemed that way to me, judging by his photo at the head of his columns) seems to have vanished utterly... like one of his beloved wraiths. Has he perhaps (my head reels at the thought) been sucked completely, so to speak, into some ethereal, parallel world?
Who can say? But whatever dimension David now inhabits, and whatever weird and wonderful things go on there, I for one like to think that at last and at least he's off with the wraiths that were so dear to his heart.