The Selfish Life: A Life of Selfish
an extract from the key biography by Bing Selfish's chief biographer, Chief Biographer, Professor of Combined Philosphy and Pop at the University of Nevada, and personal intimate of Mr Selfish
Bulgaria - 1904
I first met Bing Selfish when I was four years old. He was already legendary, and only two years old! He had just completed his great work rebutting Aquinas and Machiavelli: "Aquinas and Machiavelli : A Rebuttal" Although his immense intellect had been recognized at an early stage, he was still obliged to complete this work whilst tending the herds of Serengeti antelope, which his great-grandfather had had imported for just this purpose.
I will always remember the unmistakeable aroma of deer about his person, which had caused him to be banned from every public subscription library in the district. My kinfolk had warned me to always stay upwind of this juvenile cerebral phemonenon, and this advice I proceeded to adhere to with great care and diligence - at one time a second cousin of mine had neglected his olfactory welfare, and having strayed within the perilous exclusion zone, had not ceased to imagine himself a character from some infernal realm, deep within the earth's steaming core (he did not attended the town's annual dance for a substantial period thereafter).
There he stood, deerstalker on head, decked out in the latest tweed. He removed his black stoatskin gloves and looked around the room. He spotted me at once, but chose to ignore me, and in fact, throughout the whole evening he affected a total disinterest in engaging in intercourse with me in any wise. Still I have never felt closer to any human being than when he brushed me slightly as he went his way towards the gentlemen's convenience.
He spoke at some length to an acquaintance of mine, and I was fortunately able to hear a part of his conversation from my vantage in a well appointed ottoman the host had haggled for many years earlier in Turkestan (Yangi-Yer, I seem to recall):
"...but Paris has to be the syphillis capital of Norhern France. A venereal complaint is surely de rigeur to gain entry to the higher circles of the crowned heads of Europe and the Americas...rock and roll is not just about sex, music and drugs - it's also about procreation, aural enjoyment and narcotics...the secret of life is...my greatest nightmare is waking up in the morning - and finding the staff all murdered horribly in their beds, and none of them having seen fit to prepare my breakfast and set out enough day clothing to last until new staff could be appointed "
Rarely had I heard a man speak so eloquently and joyfully, rapier-like thrusts of wit intermingled with astute observation and an awesome appreciation of detail. I felt honoured to be in his presence albeit concealed in a cumbersome antique and deprived of oxygen.
Later at primary school, we found time to talk to each other. Although I have never found the rugby scrum the most ameniable of social milieu, locked in a sweaty grip with Selfish in a pool of mud proved to be amongst the most meaningful experiences of my life. " I believe music to be the unifying theory of which Einstein and Heisenberg have been searching for so long" He said as we scrummed down 25 yards from the opponents end..."Antelopes urine when mixed with sand is an excellent exfoliant bodyscrub very useful in the grasslands...." A firm buttock on each ear prevented me from hearing the conclusion of this discourse. The subtle nuances of croissant engineering were also denied me as the neurological effect of the breaking of both of my knees simultaneously affected my concentration and memory and the chance of that breakthrough try that would change the course of the game..Selfish naturally made such a try..and I bare no resentment that he crushed, en passant, one of my stretcher bearers causing me to be hurled to the ground and suffer severe head injuries, indeed I am thankful to have caught a glimpse of his glorious touchdown.
His father's death, his flight into the hands of gypsies, his brief embroilment in the Sofia underworld, his subsequent kidnapping, his incorporation into the Hungarian nobility have all been well documented. However I was unaware of his travails when our paths next crossed and had it not been for the cancellation of the 15.25 sunday omnibus service number 106 from Finsbury Park to Stoke Newington we would perhaps have never chanced upon each other again. He was arguing with the conductor on a matter of some principle when our eyes met " Selfish" I exclaimed. As we get older we learn that danger is a far closer companion than we fancied in our garden of youthful folly. Perhaps my timing was slightly askew, the conductors fist made a sickening thud as it connected with my idols chin .
I helped bandage his jaw as we nursed our pints in an adjacent tavern "The Red Lion" having been ejected from the offending conveyance on the pretext of some esoteric London Transport by-law (In all my travels the belligerence of the average london bus conductor and and his petty minded, petty-foggying attitude to petty cash has never failed to depress me profoundly). Overcome with joy, I slapped him on the back a number of times and repeated hs name over and over again, "Selfish, Selfish, Selfish, Selfish, etc".
"I know my own name - you don't have to keep repeating it over and over again, 'Selfish, Selfish, Selfish, Selfish, etc'! For God's sake man, pull yourself together, the whole pub is staring at us!".
"Don't you remember? Bulgaria? Dzhebel? The Town Square? The Old Cathedral? The Public Library? The butcher's shop? The alehouse? The hint of eternity in the dying sunsets? The potatoes?"
"I'm sorry, mate, I'm not with you on this one. Come again?"
"The school? The stables? The cornfields? The sh-"
"No, no, don't come again! What are you on about?"
It seemed strange that Selfish had no recollection of me. We had been so close. After an hour's gentle persuasion on my part, including sketch plans drawn on napkins, impressions of animal noises, demographic analyses, small models of farmsteads made from hastily chewed bread and a systematic person by person breakdown of the entire poulation of Eastern Bulgaria from 1893 to 1907, Selfish grudgingly acknowledged that there could be a slight possibility that indeed we were not absolute strangers.
I was overjoyed, and immediately called for yet another pint. My goodness, that man's love of the products of the brewery was worthy of deep respect.
"I'm not pissed you know" said Selfish as he finished his seventh tankard "drink helps me to concentrate..."
[Bing Selfish Main Page] [A Bing-ography][Selfish Mail Order][Interviews & Reviews][Autobiography extract][Radio Play extract][Meet The Ideals]