DEAD WRITERS’ CORNER: I have nothing to declare but this luggage…

Oscar Wilde (16 Oct 1854 – 30 Nov 1900)

Good afternoon. I died today. Tea?

It was in a small room in Paris. I lay consumptive. Or some such. I scolded myself for my weakness in absinthe, which I believe may have pushed me over the edge in being more than usually accessible to colds and Whoopsie (a whooping form of dropsy).  I could only hear the voice of my sweetest Bosie, who, between tantrums, used to shout in his loudest Owen Meany voice, “WHAT ARE YOU DOING IN BED WHY ARE YOU WEARING MY CUFFLINKS I HATE YOU DO YOU WANT A RENT BOY I CAN’T PAY MY HOTEL BILL I LOVE YOU I’M A BETTER WRITER THAN YOU I HATE MY FATHER I’M GOING TO SHOOT HIM!!” But he was a beautiful boy and perhaps the only real love I had ever felt for someone so prone to amplification. And the wallpaper surrounding what was to be my deathbed was indeed perhaps a tad louder than dear young Lord Alfred Douglas Bosie Bigmouth.

“The only thing worse than possessing amplification is not possessing amplification.”

As I drew my final breath, I had the wherewithal to utter one of my finest quotable quotes, with a trusted scribe handy to mark these faltering words:

“My wallpaper and I are fighting a duel to the death. One or other of us has got to go. But it will likely be me because I am coughing up blood and my breathing is laboured and erratic.”

This certainly beats Henry Ward Beecher’s last words, just 13 years prior to my own demise, “Now comes the mystery. (pause, uncomfortable shifting, caregivers look at their hands) No—NOW comes the mystery. (pause, faint cough from a chaplain) No—wait for it…it’s NOW—comes the—oh, fuck it— (gurgley death rattley sounds)”

And so he died, frustrated, trousers around ankles, a busty day nurse weeping into her cleavage.

And so history is re-written.

“The only thing worse than history re-written is not history re-written. That doesn’t scan right. Give me a minute.”

Oh, I forgot—I’m supposed to give advice to writers: Don’t let actors ruin your work (if one more poser says “I’ve now realized for the first time in my life the vital importance of being Earrrrrnest” and gurns full-face to the audience, I’m going to piss in every after-party drink in every theatre); always tip well at the Café Royale; and don’t kiss up to a Marquis, dearest lambs, for love nor money.

“The only thing worse than kissing up is not to—okay, I’ll stop.”