sounds, too, and he was obviously very pleased with it as an argument-clinching sentence
ender, given the way he nodded and drank from his can with a sort of swagger, so I didn't
feel I could just ignore it. Instead I sort of filed it away phonetically, just as I'd heard
it, and started paraphrasing the rest of the paragraph anyway, hoping that by the time I
got to the end the meaning behind the unidentified sound would become obvious just by
my having had more time to think about it and the context therefore, hopefully, having
become clear in the interim. This just didn't happen, so when I got to the end of the para-
graph I abandoned the Clear English I'd been translating into and just repeated verbatim
what I'd heard him say in Jim Source Code, which was, as near as I could make out, 'Az-
'Azshashoshz.' The word just sort of hung there in the air between all of us, like a
particularly vile fart nobody's prepared to own up to.
I shrugged and looked round everybody who'd been listening.
They all looked mystified.
Jim looked mystified.
He couldn't remember what it was he'd been trying to say then, at the time, let alone
next morning (well, afternoon/evening), and so we never did find out what Azshashoshz
actually meant, but it just kind of became a saying amongst us, especially if we hadn't
quite heard what somebody had said, or one of our party was starting to slur their words.
Sometimes we use it as a toast, our local equivalent of Cheers.
A year or two later when I wanted to dedicate The Player of Games to Jim, I just put
'for Jim' on the dedication page of the hardback. Jim thought that this wasn't specific
enough - unarguably, there are quite a few Jims in the world - and it was his dedication
after all, so I changed it for the paperback edition to 'For James S. Brown, who once said,
Next day; more sun, more rolls, more early morning coughing.
But today is no ordinary day. Today, as well as continuing the whisky research - nat-
urally - we are men with a mission. For today we have an appointment with destiny, today
we take up the challenge of a profound spiritual quest for a near-mythic location, lost in
the mists of time and the depths of ancient Morayshire. We are to revisit the site of one
of our most emblematic achievements, a lodestone locus of enormous symbolic power in
the personal mythology of all three of us.
Today we go in search of the Bombed Fountain of Elgin.
It was our first trip together round the Highlands, back in the late seventies. We were
in the Mk 3 Cortina that had been my dad's. It was white with a black vinyl roof, boasted
a two-litre engine and seemed really quite quick at the time.
I had by this time long been attracted to the concept of foam-bombing a fountain. The
idea of seeing an attractive municipal piazza or corporate car park entrance knee-deep in