Today my old buddy James Joyce broke a week long silence on the issue of William Butler Yeats’ consumption of testicles from an elephant shot in Kenya by Joyce and writer-pal Ernest Hemingway. Finally in his own home and exhausted from his recent trip to Saint Helena for a writers’ conference, Joyce seemed, at first, entirely disinterested in the subject to the point of feigning deafness to any of my questions about it. He seemed preoccupied with removing the remains of some opaque, gelatinous substance from his shirt and tie. When asked did he mind that Yeats took the testicles from Joyce’s elephant without permission, Joyce said “What? Um, Uh … Oh!” and went to make a pot of coffee.
After measuring out the grounds and swearing about not being able to find a match to light the gas burner, the author of Ulysses turned to this reporter and said “No, I suppose not.” “You suppose not what?” I replied, having forgotten the question. “The testicles James Joyce… Yeats … I suppose I don’t mind” said Joyce. “Well how do you feel …” I started, but ceased in mid-sentence when I saw to my chagrin and amazement that Joyce had fallen asleep in front of me, standing up, leaning ever so slightly against the counter. Not knowing what to do next, I fumbled through my pockets and found a packet of matches, feeling as if it would be all right to rouse him if it didn’t appear to be too self-serving. After a startled snort, Joyce thanked me, lit the cooker top and put on the coffee to boil. After a few more moments of painful silence while Joyce stared at the coffee pot, he turned and said “It’s a good thing for Yeats, swilling down those savanna oysters. A good thing. The truth. Yes it was. Yes.” More silence. ” Did you see him before he ate them, Beckett? He was positively blue-mouldy. And I thought it was for want of a good pint.” Joyce checked the coffee pot, turned the burner down to low, and continued: “Did you really shag my daughter, Sam? Oh, never mind! Please forget that I asked that! I suppose I was just thinking about Andie. Anyway, you’ll excuse me, I need to have a shit. Make yourself at home. Have coffee when it’s ready.” Joyce disappeared into the back of the house. After forty minutes, I left.