A Long Trip to Teatime

A Long Trip to Teatime


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"The original illustrations, marvelously expressive black and white drawings by Fulvio Testa, form the ideal complement for Burgess's text." — The Emerald City Book Review
Edmund Ironside, Edward the Confessor, Edward the Elder, Edward the Martyr . . . Edgar wearies of an endless history lecture on England's Anglo-Saxon kings and longs for an escape from the classroom—which he finds with a sudden plunge through a tiny hole in his desk. Now Edgar is on the shores of Easter Island, listening to the chiming of Easter bells, and searching for Edenborough, from whence he must find his way home in time for tea. Like Lewis Carroll's Alice, Edgar finds himself astray in a wonderland, his bizarre adventures highlighted by gloriously nonsensical conversations with curious creatures.
Anthony Burgess, the acclaimed author of A Clockwork Orange, plays with logic and language in this captivating lost classic. Studded with Joycean puns and fantastical words, the dreamlike odyssey offers a passing nod to the concepts of free will and relativity and can be appreciated by readers of all ages. This edition marks a return to print for A Long Trip to Teatime, which has been unavailable since the late 1970s. Newly republished in the centennial of Burgess's birth, this volume features the charming original illustrations by artist Fulvio Testa.

Product Details

ISBN-13: 9780486813462
Publisher: Dover Publications
Publication date: 03/17/2017
Pages: 128
Product dimensions: 6.00(w) x 9.00(h) x (d)
Age Range: 8 - 14 Years

About the Author

Best known as the author of A Clockwork Orange, Anthony Burgess (1917–93) was a novelist, poet, playwright, composer, linguist, translator, and critic. In addition to his 33 novels, 25 works of nonfiction, and two volumes of autobiography, he wrote three symphonies and more than 150 other musical works as well as reams of journalism.
One of Italy's most distinguished artists, Fulvio Testa is a native of Verona and the author and illustrator of numerous books for children and adults. His watercolors and paintings have been exhibited in museums, libraries, and galleries around the world.

Read an Excerpt

A Long Trip to Teatime

By Anthony Burgess, Fulvio Testa

Dover Publications, Inc.

Copyright © 1976 The International Anthony Burgess Foundation
All rights reserved.
ISBN: 978-0-486-82072-9


Straight Through a Hole in the Desk

Edgar was heartily sick of the droning voice of Mr Anselm Eadmer, who was going on, through the gorgeous spring afternoon, about Edmund Ironside and Edward the Confessor and Edward the Elder and Edward the Martyr, and the rest of the boring kings of Anglo-Saxon England. Edgar's desk was pocked with tiny holes made by doodling compass or dividers, and he thought what a capital thing it would be if he could become small enough to creep into one of those holes and vanish – his real diminished self, that was – until the lesson ended, while this big bored self became a wide-eyed responsive machine, taking it all in about Anglo-Saxon royalty. Imagine his surprise, then, to find himself suddenly on a ship being steered carefully through one of those holes – the one nearest the D of his own carved and inked-in first name – and to hear voices calling in a language he did not understand. He was standing on deck, well-wrapped against a piercing wind that cried in from the other end of the hole, and an old man was standing next to him, all white beard and oilskins, with a red-coaled pipe held firm in smiling jaws. The old man said:

'You, boy – are you on the crew-list? What's your name? Solomon Eagle? John Earle? Hareton Earnscliff? Atalanta, Perseus, Cupid, Psyche, Alcestis, Pygmalion, Bellerophon? Ah, that was a great ship, the Bully Ruffian we used to call her. Speak, boy, and answer.' But he did not seem really interested, and Edgar did not wonder, for the ship had at last come through the hole, or rocky tunnel as it really was, and into a wide sea where the gulls were crying 'Repent! Repent! The end of the world is coming!'

'Eagles they should be by rights,' the old man said, still smiling. And then, suddenly frowning, he called: 'Laxdaela!' or something like it to a couple of members of the crew, who replied with sounds like isk and bosk and etheldeth. 'We put you ashore,' said the old man to Edgar, 'on Easter Island. There it is, on the port bow.'

Edgar had too many questions to ask. He asked one only. 'What language are they speaking, sir?' he asked.

'There it is,' said the old man, 'coming up now. Listen to the Easter bells.' And the sea air had suddenly become alive with a sweet loud jangling. 'But don't,' he said, 'expect the place to be full of eggs and hot cross buns, because it won't. The people there have very long ears, right down to their shoulders, and their gods are the same. Look, you can see some of those stone idols, all along the shore. To keep out intruders, that was the idea. But it won't keep you out, oh dear me, no.'

'Why do I have to be put ashore?' asked Edgar. 'Why can't I stay on the ship and go wherever you are going?'

'Eastward ho,' said the old man, who, it dawned on Edgar, must be the captain. 'That's where we're going. To see Sir Petronel Flash. Also Moses and the Devil and the great Orc. No place for you, boy. Ah, the boat's being lowered.'

So it was. They were still some way from the shore, all along which stone effigies stood, and Edgar did not really enjoy climbing down the nets to the two rowers who awaited him, men who had stripped off their oilskins for the sudden heat and were now half-naked, though, in a sense very fully clothed in tattooings. On the chest of one of them was the blued-in face of a rather pretty girl, her presumed name Rhoda Fleming etched in beneath. 'Hallo there,' said the face, to Edgar's mixed fear and amusement. 'Vanity of vanities, all is vanity.'

'Don't you listen to her,' said the other man, whose chest and stomach were covered with a very fine map of Hindustan, all twinkling lights and bullock-carts moving along the roads. 'It's for me she's saying that, not you. What you might call a longstanding feud, my name being Bob Eccles. So, then – off we go.' And they both plied lustily with their oars. The man who had not yet spoken now spoke, though jerkily and rather breathlessly with the effort of rowing:

'You watch out, son, for the mother of the Blatant Beast. If you see a lady there that's like a big snake from the waist down, then you know it's her.'

'No, no,' cried Edgar with sudden panic. 'Take me back. Take me back to school and Mr Eadmer and the kings of Anglo-Saxon England.'

The two men laughed, and Rhoda Fleming laughed too, all blue teeth.

'Why,' said Bob Eccles, 'bless your heart, son, she's nought to be afeared on. Worn out she is now, having been mother to no end of monsters – Chimera and Orthrus and the Sphinx of Egypt itself. Also Cerebo and the Hydrant.'

'Haven't got them two last ones quite right,' said the other man. 'But never mind. Sing us a song, young un, to keep us in trim for the rowing.' So Edgar sang a song he knew, when he started, he did not know, but knew that he would know when he started. It went like this:

'A forrard leak on the garboard strake
And the harbour bar o'erflowing,
For there's many a man must whistle and ache
And stretch and stitch till his callions break,
And hark to the cock for the morning's sake
And his cree cray crack craw crowing.'

To, but perhaps not really, his surprise, the two toiling mariners joined in with a shanty burden:

'With a hey and a ho and the bo'sun's dead
And his bed unmade in the morning.'

Edgar found himself, without effort, trolling a second verse:

'The trisail's brayed on the mizzen trees,
And sop up rum by the bottle,
And the galley's alive with the reek of cheese,
And the noontide lobscowse fails to please,
And the cargo's eaten alive by fleas,
And the donkey goes half-throttle.'

The two rowers growled their refrain:

'With a hoo and a hee and the first mate's oiled
And he's boiled with eggs in the morning.'

To his, but he was no longer really capable of it, surprise, Edgar found that he was being rowed towards a nice clean wooden pier, and two little men in blue uniforms were dancing up and down on it, as if with rage at the approach of the boat.

'What's that they're shouting?' Edgar asked.

Both rowers made faces, as if to say: it's always like this. The one who was not Bob Eccles said: 'It's their dinner-hour, you see, and they don't like to be disturbed at it.'.

'In it,' the other said, 'or perhaps during it might be more of an ecclesiastical polity.'

'No, more of an ecclesiastical sonnet, I'd say,' said the other, and the tattooed face of Rhoda Fleming began to recite I wandered lonely as a cloud. 'Not having that I'm not,' said her owner sadly, looking down and giving himself three extra chins. 'It's the mention of Wordsworth that does it,' he explained to Edgar. 'She met him once, you see when I was having a bath in Lake Windermere, if you know where that is. Silly old man, I thought, with his top hat on.'

'Look,' Edgar said, as the boat began to touch the steps of the pier, 'why don't they get on with having their dinner instead of jumping up and down like that in a rage?'

The other two shook their heads. 'See now,' said the one who was not Bob Eccles, 'why don't I give my name so as you'll know it? It happens to be Boniface, if you're at all by way of being the least mite interested. Some say as it's really Bonny Face and others as it's really Bony Face, but there's not one bone in my etchy omo as you can see, save for the sniffer perhaps, so I plump for the other meaning.'

'Your what?' asked Edgar.

'His sniffer,' answered Bob Eccles. 'Or his honk or hooter or else his maundy thursday.'

'No, no, the other one.'

But by now the two little blue-clad men were jumping up and down on the very edge of the pier and crying: 'The pancakes are burnt and it's all your fault,' whereupon Boniface yelled:

'I don't believe you're having pancakes, today being Wednesday.' Surprisingly, or not so, this quietened them down a good deal, so that one of them said to Edgar:

'All right, let's be having you up then.' And they quite kindly helped Edgar as he came to the top of the pier-steps, one of them saying: 'You can come a nasty crack there when it's all slimy with the sea-slime and the outcroppings of the topmore gudgeons.' Boniface called up:

'Don't forget to tell them now where you want to go.'

'But I want to go where I've come from,' cried Edgar in some distress 'I want to be in school for the end of the lesson and then be ready to go home to tea.'

'Tea,' and one of the blue-clad men shook his head, saying: 'You'll have to go a good way inland to see about tea. Where the Exhibition is if the truth is to be told, and a good fair crack to the feet it is to get there. But let's be having you in the office.' And Edgar noticed that there was a little hut a hundred yards or so along the pier, from which loud screams were coming. The two sailors started to pull back towards the ship, which seemed to have travelled on a good number of sea-miles without waiting for them, singing:

'With a hoy and a haw and the skipper's fried
And he's tied with springs in the morning.'

'Now,' said one of the blue-clad men, 'let's have a look at you.' Edgar had a look at them. Their hair was very fine and very wild in the sea wind and their noses very red. They seemed, each of them, to be no more than about three feet in height, but they were so paunchy that their blue jackets were made to fit with a loop of string between button and buttonhole. 'Well, now,' said the one who was speaking, 'you seem to be a fair upstanding specimen of a recantation, and I'll thank you to know that I'm Mr Eckhart and this one is called Mr Eckermann.'

'You're Germans?' Edgar asked politely.

'No,' thundered back Mr Eckhart, 'we're brothers.'

'But I don't understand that,' said Edgar. 'I mean, you have different names. If you were brothers, you'd have the same name.'

They both roared with laughter. 'Ah,' cried Mr Eckermann, 'little you know of the great world, and that's a fact. Brothers have to have different names, otherwise you couldn't tell them apart. Suppose Cain and Abel had had the same name, eh? That would have made a pretty mess for everybody.' And they both chuckled. Mr Eckhart at last said:

'Not that this is the job our father would have chosen for either of us. I did a great thing once upon a time. I used to go around warning people about monsters, but they'd never listen.'

'Ah,' Edgar said, 'like the Blatant Beast and its mother?'

'Well, sometimes,' Mr Eckhart said doubtfully. 'But it was more what they call Venus, she being what was known as the goddess of love, whatever that is or was.'

'A lot of nonsense,' Mr Eckermann said. 'Me, I was a great one for the conversations, but that's all over now, aye aye, all over.' They both looked so sad, even though a seagull had landed on the head of Mr Eckhart and was crying 'Eclectic electric eccentric', that Edgar thought he had better remind them that there was work to be done in what they called the office, from which the screaming still came. He said:

'The trouble is I have no money.'

'Money money money,' Mr Eckhart grumbled. 'That's all anybody thinks about.' He looked at his wristwatch, from which a very subdued kind of singing seemed to be coming, and said: 'Well, as for money, the time's arrived. Come on, don't waste it. To the office.' And they hurried off, Edgar following, the seagull now on Mr Eckermann's head and calling 'Liddell and Scott, Liddell and Scott.' But when they came to the little hut it flew off, craaaarking, into the sea wind.

The hut was very small and very untidy. The screaming, Edgar now saw, was not coming from anybody being hurt but from a parrot with a little silver ring about its left leg, attached to a thin chain that was attached to a tall hatstand. The hat-stand was crammed with every possible kind of headgear, from concertina-folding opera-hat to Sherlock Holmes deerstalker, and all were quite clearly too big for either Mr Eckhart or Mr Eckermann, and far far far too big for the little man who sat behind a desk in great gloom, eating some very sticky-looking and rubbery candy from a paper bag. He had a long nose like an empty ice-cream cone with a pencil attached to its apex, and this was all covered with candy, so that he had to keep wiping it with a very grubby handkerchief. 'It's a terrible burden to be sure,' he said, 'eating of this.' The parrot screamed very loudly from the crown of a bowler hat, but nobody took any notice. Mr Eckermann, or it might have been Mr Eckhart, said petulantly:

'Why didn't you make cocoa, as you were asked and as is your duty?'

'It's no good making cocoa, nor drinking it neither,' said the little man, 'since the spoon keeps getting into your eye.' And then he became very official, looking sternly at Edgar, putting the bag of candy into a desk drawer. Out of the drawer something invisible seemed to fly out for Edgar heard a tiny voice call:

'Aye aye. I. Eye.'

'Passport,' said the little man, 'and quick about it.'

'Titititit,' went the little voice. It was now near the parrot, and the parrot looked at it, its head on one side.

'You've let the echo out,' said Mr Eckermann or Mr Eckhart sternly. 'You've been warned about that often enough.'

'Nuff nuff nuff.'

'It does nobody any good, having it,' went the little man gloomily. He wore, under his blue jacket, a rainbow-striped jersey that Edgar rather liked the look of, though it would be much too small for himself to wear.

'The time's coming up for the race,' Mr Eckhart or Mr Eckermann said.

'Ace ace ace.'

'Now you have to place your bet,' Mr Eck said (it was easier this way, decided Edgar). 'Put your money in that letterbox there,' and he gestured with his nose towards a beautifully polished brass letter-box mouth in the wall.

'But I have no money,' Edgar said, 'as I told you.'

'I'll lend him a couple of hamadans,' said the other Mr Eck, taking some bright small coins from his jacket pocket. 'After all, it's what they call, or used to call in the days of my youth, a foregone conclusion.'

'Usion usion.'

So the money was put into the letter-box, and the other Mr Eck said to the parrot: 'Eclipse first and the rest nowhere.'

The parrot listened very carefully and, it seemed to Edgar, seriously to that, its head on one side, and it crooned to itself.

'What is this?' asked Edgar. 'Eclipse, I mean.'

The little man spoke. 'The most famous race-horse in the world it is, and running today in the Queen's Plate at Winchester. Born during an eclipse it was, and so hence, notwithstanding, and not to put too fine a point on it, its name.'

'Ame ame ame.'

'Quiet now,' said one of the Mr Ecks. 'Shut that echo up.'

'Up up up.'

Everybody was now quiet, and the Mr Ecks looked at each other in triumph, since the echo had, indeed, shut up. The parrot seemed to be listening to something intently. After about a minute it began to flap its wings and dance up and down. The little men, all three of them, looked gravely at each other.

'Won,' said one of the Mr Ecks. Echo agreed, three times.

'How do you know?' Edgar asked.

'It always wins,' said the little man. 'Never lost yet. Ah, here comes the money.' And out of the letter-box came the two coins, followed by the smallest coin that Edgar had ever seen. All three tinkled onto the floor.

'Can't win much, you see, it stands to reason,' said Mr Eck. 'It always comes in first, always has done, always will. Anyway, those two hamadans go back to us, and you can keep the vathek, not worth much but better than nothing.'

'Thing thing thing.'

'Thank you,' Edgar said, pocketing the tiny coin they called a vathek. The little man at the desk said:

'Anything to declare?'

'What do you mean?' asked Edgar.

'You answer the question. You're bringing things into the country, and you have to say what they are. And some things you have to pay money on.'

'But you can see,' Edgar said, 'I have nothing.' And he held out his hands as if to show that there was nothing hidden in them.

'You're a bit of a liar,' said one of the Mr Ecks. 'You have that vathek in your pocket.'

'All right, then. I declare that.'

'Not enough,' said the other Mr Eck. He went over to a corner of the room, brushing the echo out of the way irritably as he did so. There was a load of old rubbish in the corner – bucolics and eclogues and barclays and sylviuses and economics and bagehots and darwins and ector and kays and seneschals, all very dusty. He came out with a big dusty carpet-bag and began stuffing it with hats from the rack. The parrot danced and squawked, and echo squawked too, so that the parrot put his head on one side to listen, but by this time there was nothing to hear. Mr Eck gave the stuffed bag to Edgar and said: 'Now.'


Excerpted from A Long Trip to Teatime by Anthony Burgess, Fulvio Testa. Copyright © 1976 The International Anthony Burgess Foundation. Excerpted by permission of Dover Publications, Inc..
All rights reserved. No part of this excerpt may be reproduced or reprinted without permission in writing from the publisher.
Excerpts are provided by Dial-A-Book Inc. solely for the personal use of visitors to this web site.

Table of Contents

Chapter I Straight Through a Hole in the Desk 9

Chapter II Eden 25

Chapter III The Road to Edenborough 41

Chapter IV Also the Road to Edenborough 58

Chapter V E and D and G and A 68

Chapter VI In the Castle 80

Chapter VII Albert Helps 95

Chapter VIII Straight Through a Hole in the Desk 104

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