pt 130: ESSE QUAM VIDERI

Scampi: But I can’t sleep.

 

Peter: Oh? Why?

 

Scampi: I don’t like American history.

 

Peter: What it is about American history that you dislike?

 

Scampi: It’s just so mean.

 

Peter: Who do you think did a better job? Of history?

 

Scampi: I don’t know. It’s the way they say things, so sly.

 

Peter: Who?

 

Scampi: Like Andrew Jackson.

 

Peter: Can you give me an example of Andrew Jackson speaking in a sly way?

 

Scampi: Oh, Peter. The way you phrase things.

 

Peter: I am simply repeating what you’ve said.

 

Scampi: No, no. Anyway.

 

Peter: [YAWNS.]

 

Scampi: Do you know the machines that window-washers use?

 

Peter: I have seen them.

 

Scampi: Of course you have.

 

Peter: You asked.

 

Scampi: “I have seen them.” You say that like it’s some kind of state secret.

 

Peter: SIGHS.

 

Scampi: Well, have you ever been on one?

 

Peter: Ah. No.

 

Scampi: Are you sure?

 

Peter: I believe so.

 

Scampi: It’s all about belief of course, window-washing. Keeping our sightlines clear, and such.

 

Peter: Ah, sight.

 

Scampi: You use your glasses to see.

 

Peter: I do.

 

Scampi: This is pretty funny.

 

Peter: How so?

 

Scampi: I dunno. Like a lady with a snuffbox.

 

Peter: Pardon me?

 

Scampi: You know. You hold something up to your face to improve your outlook.

 

PAUSE.

 

Scampi: Anyway, you’re aware of the Bessemer process, naturally?

 

Peter: Hm?

 

Scampi: The Bessemer Process. Named after Henry Bessemer, you know.

 

Peter: Yes, what of it?

 

Scampi: Here.

 

Peter: What is this?

 

Scampi: Can’t you read?

 

Peter: I can.

 

Scampi: It’s Bessemer’s autobiography. In which you can learn that he was born in Hertfordshire.

 

Peter: Oh. I was not aware of this.

 

Scampi: How about this?

 

Peter: Oomph.

 

Scampi: What?

 

Peter: Please do not hurl books at me.

 

Scampi: Hurl! As if.

 

Peter: “Father of the Steel Industry”.

 

Scampi: That’s right.

 

Peter: I did not realise you were such an avid aficionado of the steel industry.

 

Scampi: Pff! What sort of thing to say is that? And, speaking of things to say, listen to this: “I had an immense advantage over many others dealing with the problem inasmuch as I had no fixed ideas derived from long-established practice to control and bias my mind, and did not suffer from the general belief that whatever is, is right.”

 

Peter: Yes, ignorance is a great boon to the inventor.

 

Scampi: What do you know about it?

 

PAUSE.

 

Scampi: If we were in a tall building, it would need its windows washed, of course.

 

Peter: Yes.

 

Scampi: And if we were in America, history would be prickling our skin all the time.

 

Peter: Are we in America?

 

Scampi: We might have been. When we were cowboys.

 

PAUSE.

 

Scampi: Or farmers.

 

Peter: I don’t remember being farmers.

 

Scampi: You and your memory. Do you remember the name of the hoisty thing that window washers use?

 

Peter: Remember it?

 

Scampi: Precisely. Do you know, the Bessemer Process helped to make artillery, 16-pounder guns. That sort of thing.

 

Peter: That would make sense.

 

Scampi: What?

 

Peter: That would make sense.

 

Scampi: No it would not. There is nothing sensible about artillery.

 

Peter: Doesn’t this depend on the context of the discussion?

 

Scampi: What discussion? How vile.

 

Peter: I believe it was your choice of topic.

 

Scampi: Sensible.

 

Peter: Saw-see-bluh?

 

Scampi: This is a French word.

 

Peter: Ah.

 

Scampi: And béchamel is a French sauce. But what does that have to do with anything?

 

Peter: I like sauces.

 

Scampi: Oh, naturally.

 

Peter: What do you have against sauces?

 

Scampi: Nothing, nothing. I have something against the sixteen-pounder gun, though.

 

Peter: What is that?

 

Scampi: It is the tender heart of history.

 

Peter: I see.

 

Scampi: Yes. It’s being held against the pride of Her Majesty’s Armed Forces as we speak.

 

Peter: It is?

 

Scampi: Or whatever. I certainly can’t convert anything to steel, myself.

 

Peter: Perhaps you should start with the tender heart of history.

 

Scampi: Oh, Peter. You clownfish.

 

PETER BURNS AN ORANGE STRIPED BLUSH.

 

Scampi: I suppose it’s just a simple pulley system, really.

 

Peter: What is?

 

Scampi: The window-washing platform. What holds it up, et cetera.

 

Peter: Yes.

 

Scampi: A system of pulleys and cables. It’s a dangerous job, of course.

 

Peter: Compared to floor washing?

 

Scampi: That’s right. It’s important to see where we are, in a building.

 

Peter: I suppose it is.

 

Scampi: Rather than where we’re going.

 

PAUSE.

 

Scampi: We aren’t going anywhere.

 

Peter: At present.

 

Scampi: But we can see for miles.

 

Peter: Can we?

 

Scampi: I can. Mind you, don’t look down.

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