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Who On Earth Is Tom Baker?

Excerpt from chapter 20

© Tom Baker 1997

As I mow and sometimes read the graves I feel comforted by the quietness of the old churchyard and the unchanging thoughts on the old stones. “Not Dead, only sleeping” makes me smile wryly as I rev my powerful Honda in the ear of a deceased. As far as I can see, they are all dead and not sleeping at all. And as I go about my little task, people sometimes toot their horns or shout from their car windows as they roar past. Usually they cry out: “Aye-aye, Doctor,” or something like that. And I bawl back, “Aye-aye, there,” and wave my right hand. But sometimes people stop and get out of their cars and loiter nearby and watch me in a funny way.

Like the fellow who is near my gravestone right this minute. Christ, he's sucking his thumb now and looking at me in a funny way.

Not everybody knows that looking at people in “a funny way” is the commonest cause of sudden murder. I happen to know that because I read a Home Office brochure once.

I feel very edgy. My watcher seems to be wearing a sort of mahogany-coloured coat and - is his hair mahogany, too? After about forty minutes I can bear it no longer and I say rather tartly, “Good afternoon.”

No answer, and as I empty a load of clippings I’m suddenly aware of Mahogany standing close to me. We look at each other and he says: “I'm a fan,” looking past me as if he saw something to my disadvantage over my shoulder. “I've just been standing by your grave paying my respects.”

This fetches me round to face him again. (If I’d been able to see myself, I’d probably have said that my eyes narrowed.) Not being able to see myself, I say nothing. Then he says: “You see, I'm a great fan, and I just thought I’d put some flowers on your grave.”

Suddenly I want to say: “Why do you want to put flowers on my grave when I'm standing in front of you? Can't you see that I'm alive?” Too obvious.


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Tom and Sue outside The Bell House

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