My parents returned from their London / Northern Spain adventures with the customary books, postcards, ephemera, and fridge magnet collectables – all the stuff to decorate my white goods, and to store in my shoeboxes. A year or so ago they went to Peru and brought me amazing masks and a traditional (or possibly "tourist-traditional") decorative rug. But as amazing as Peru and Machu Picchu sounds, they can and will never be as amazing as Poo. Poo is a quaint little town somewhere in Spain ; and it's called Poo. I'm sure it's lovely.
Forget about their travels to places I've never been and would love to visit – forget about the food they ate and the things they saw. Let's focus on one thing they brought back. It came from either Bath or London, I can't remember, and it's called Captain Slaughterboard Drops Anchor by Mervyn Peake. I'm amazed I've never heard of this book before – the artwork is so weird and so strong, but the story is pure odd.
A pirate captain and his crew discover a strange yellow man-thing on an island whom they take on board. The captain becomes infatuated with the yellow man-creature, whose only words ar "yo-ho!" During his infatuation he leads his entire crew to their death (which is not shown and completely glossed over), then he returns to the island and lives happily ever after with his little yellow fellow. It seems to be a very strange love story ; but may easily be much more or much less.
The little yellow fellow seems innocent, but I suspect he-it somehow engineered the death of the crew, and had a selfish or sinister reason to bring the captain back to his island. Is it a love story or a terrible tale of obsessive control? It looks wonderful, but leaves a disgusting suspicious feeling in the hole of one's soul.
The story ends on the back cover with a jittery hand-written legend "the end of the story". The captain sits at a table holding a caught fish in one hand and a beer in the other. His face is a demented empty-headed grin ; a lobotomised rictus. The little yellow fellow stands naked and hairy, leaning against the table. In one hand he casually rests a longbow. He peers at the dumb face of the captain, with a triumphant expression ; possessive and victorious. Seriously sinister.
Mervyn Peake is completely new to me ; although I have heard of Gormanghast I have never read it, seen it, heard it, or whatever it. I have no idea what it is or what it's about. I thought it was some crappy BBC costume drama. Now I am heavily inclined to suspect it is more than that, or completely something different ; something worth investigating.