Stephen takes great sport in his younger brother’s gullibility. Here is his lesson for Duncan on the various inhabitants of Birmingham:
“We’re not alone in the Midlands.”
Duncan butted in, “Hang on a second. That doesn’t sound right.”
“Experience is the teacher of all things,” Stephen didn’t give Duncan time to question his logic; he seized the moment and went on, “and besides, it is better to create than to learn. Creating is the essence of life.” Coming to a break for breath, he saw Duncan was befuddled, and rush on to conquer his last doubts. “The whole of Mercia is divided into three parts; of these one is inhabited by the Burning Hammers, a second by the Aston Villeins, and the third by a people called Upscalers in their own language and Solihullers in ours. Each differs from the others in accent, customs, and laws. The Burning Hammers are separated from the Aston Villeins by the Aston expressway, which was built William the Conqueror to discourage incursions into Burning Hammer territory. The most rugged are the Burning Hammers because they are farthest removed from the refinement and soft living of London and are less frequently visited by traders introducing products which serve to slacken virility, and because they are always playing away matches in Manchester.”
Recovering some small skepticism, Duncan scrunched his eyes half-closed to signal doubt, and made a demand for proof, “Where do you get this stuff?”
“Oh, it’s all things you’ll read at school when you’re older. Some of it is in the memoirs of the man who founded Birmingham. His name was Berm, in Old English, and his book was called My Struggle.”
** Where to begin on explaining this Minestrone of Quotes from Julius Caesar? Latin was never so much fun as when thoroughly abused. Oh, and Berm was his name, but I don’t think Mein Kampf has ever been misattributed so throughly.