There’s a figure in many Maugham stories, a mad, desperate drunk man wearing a once neat white linen suit, staggering across a palm tree beach with a gin bottle in his hand, sucking at the gin to keep away the malaria and the nightmare laughter that only he can hear.
The linen suit is stained with his sweat, wine spills and that incident a couple of weeks ago that involved his crotch and a cheerful Pacific Island girl.
I’ve been trying to be him. I’m afraid I haven’t managed to achieve it. I liked the idea of going troppo, so I’ve drunk creme de menthe and Midori with pineapple juice and lime in bars that aren’t much more than corrugated iron shacks.
Despite that, my white linen suit is still immaculate and I haven’t had sex with that cheerful, if hypothetical, girl who would foam, or cream, over a crease or two in my trousers if I decided to have her with only the zipper undone.
Blues, those 21st century blues. Are they getting you down?