about why
he has not been
around the studio lately
it’s private I don’t want to talk about it
I clearly touched a nerve
he sits down in
you have a
handwritten letter
I say whilst inspecting
the crisp clean cream envelope
Dr Katnap remains silent but looks
over his shoulder towards me
his lively blue eyes
are the only
that show
any sign of life
they are still bright
and filled with curiosity
and without them Katnap could
easily be mistaken for a dead man walking
for everything else about him
is grey and lifeless
Dr Katnap
suddenly stands and
crosses the length of the room
in three long and purposeful strides
he swipes the envelope from my hand
and in one fluid movement turns on his heels
covers the length of the room in three strides again
and sits back at his desk facing away from
my blank and somewhat startled face
we sit for a long moment in
stoney cold silence
who is it from
I ask
he replies
the 7th Earl of Lucan
John Bingham
I instantly
in my chair
and begin to Google
the hell out of this person
as my eyes jitter across the screen
my mouth opens wide in astonishment
Lord Lucan was a British peer
who disappeared after
being suspected
of the murder
of Sandra Rivett
his children's nanny
on the 7th November 1974
Sandra Rivett was bludgeoned to death
in the basement of the Lucan family home in Belgravia
it is believed Lord Lucan was actually planning to kill his wife
but mistakenly killed Rivett in the darkness
with a bandaged lead pipe
it sounds like
a game
or the plot of an
Agatha Christie novel
where moments of violence
become light family entertainment
I continue to scan the screen of my laptop
after the murder of Sandra Rivett
Lord Lucan disappeared
and was never
dead or alive
I ask Katnap if he
was involved in the inquest
he swivels in his office chair to face me
I was deputy coroner at the time
it was my first big case
he tells me
then I ask
and is that letter
actually from Lord Lucan
Katnap responds nostalgically
yes I am without doubt this is from him
I would recognise this handwriting anywhere
Lord Lucan and I were friends you see
well before this nasty business
we used to play cards in
the Clermont Club
I wormed my way into these
exclusive Mayfair members clubs
as research for an exhibition I was working on
in which I planned to turn the gallery
into a private gambling club
with the difference
being that
with their
ideas instead of money
a kind of intellectual property lottery
Katnap proceeded to tell me
how the Clermont Club
was full of odd
such as the clubs
proprietor John Aspinall
who also owned a private zoo
where he kept tigers and
other exotic animals
for personal
another member of
this privileged gang was
the portrait painter Dominic Elwes
although Katnap saw
little artistic
in what
Dominic was doing
Katnap enjoyed humouring
him and making friends with the
gallerists Dominic brought to the club
you can see Elwes’ portrait of the Lord Lucan
I have pinned a copy of it to the wall
just to the right
of this
after listening
to Dr Katnaps Tale
I have so many questions
how was Katnap allowed to
assist on an inquest when he was
personally involved with the prime suspect
was he still in contact with this
network of shady old
wealthy white men
and most pressingly what
does that letter from mysterious Lord Lucan say
but as I begin to try and formulate
these thoughts into
Dr Katnap
slips the envelope
into his inside jacket pocket
stands up and
walks out

Have A Word With Youself Mate
Written for a duo show with Victoria Doyle
on the occasion of me moving out of mine and Katnap’s shared studio

Art Lacuna, 2020