by Rob Douglass
OMERS emerged from the Kuomintang building. There he had met inscrutable
Chinese, who were unwilling to give him any information, other than
polite but fatuous discussion and jasmine tea.
It would be several
hours before the train to Mullumbimby and he was at a loose end.
A small Chinese urchin
accosted him: "Mister Somers" he understood the boy to
say and the boy pushed an envelope into Somers hand. In it was a
note, beautifully written in English in an elegant script on hand
made paper. It read:
"Mr Richard Somers
If you could kindly
take a little time out of your busy schedule, a humble person would
very much like to acquaint you with some information which may be
of interest to you and possibly beneficial."
The signature was a
Chinese "chop" indecipherable by Somers. However there
was an address in Dixon Street, just around the corner from where
Somers had received the note.
Somers walked to the address, a non-descript doorway and hall, leading
to an inner courtyard. He noted the slouching, insolent Chinese
leaning insouciantly against the wall around the entrance. One of
then spat a tubercular glob in the gutter.
They looked at Somers
out of the corners of their slit eyes.
One of them straightened
up and pointed Somers to the doorway on the opposite side of the
courtyard, without a word. Somer entered into the rear room, which
was smoky and heavy with sandalwood incense.
There he encounters
a fearsome character:
However the apparition
smiled at Somers and said in perfect Oxford English, "Mr Somers,
how kind of such a distinguished English literary luminary to grace
my humble premises. Please take a seat."
As Somers sat in a comfortable
chair, the apparition clapped his hands and immediately a Chinese
man entered,wearing a black silk pajama suit with some sort of elaborate
embroidered black working on it, edged in red piping with a black
He put what Somers now
realized would be the inevitable jasmine tea in a pot on the table
next to him and poured some into a tiny cup. When Somers sipped
it, however it was not jasmine tea, but a flavour Somers could not
identify and quite delicious.
Some strange oriental
music was playing quietly in the next room. Somer found it discordant,
but fortunately it was not very loud.
said the apparition, "Please excuse my failure to introduce
myself. My unimportant name is 'Fu Manchu'. Our Chinese names are
so difficult to those outside the Middle Kingdom, or "Republic"
as we now proclaim ourselves, so please just call me "Foo".
Fu went on to praise
Somers extravagantly, revealing without any hesitation a familiarity,
which quite set Somers' aback, of Somers background as a pacifist,
his legal problems in England with defamation and the scandalous
divorce, whereby Somers came to be able to marry his aristocratic
"Mr Somers I have
thrown your i Ching. You will have an extraordinary fame in your
lifetime. However but after your death you will become almost a
god-like figure in literary circles and to the wider public.
you must persist in reaching out beyond conventional literary topics,
as you have already started doing."
"Mr Fu, this is
far too kind," said Somers, "but what do you want from
"I'm sure you got
nowhere with the Kuomintang people you saw today. " Said Fu.
"They soon will get some guidance from Moscow and that will
help them. But that is not of any consequence to us today. My poor
country will go through many travails before it emerges victorious
as the centre of the world again.
"There is no doubt
that we will - possibly not in our lifetimes, but within a hundred
years. We Chinese always have a longer view of history than you
white people. But then we have a rather longer history too.
gave you English a leap ahead of us. But with our hard-working and
highly intelligent masses, we will ultimately surpass England. And
sooner than you think. We strongly believe in the power of education
and hard work.
"It is sad that
a country which invented the compass, can have so lost its bearings.
Sadly we also invented gunpowder and paper money and one must wonder
if these are of benefit to the world.
"However we also
invented printing and that, Mr Somers is where your genius - and
I don't hesitate to use this word to describe you - can be of benefit
to the world. They need to work with us rather than oppose and oppress
Somers was greatly flattered
by Fu's discourse, but felt uncomfortably out of his depth. This
was made worse by the strange smelling cigarettes Fu smoked which
had an aroma reminiscent of patchouli and overwhelmed the smell
Somers felt curiously
relaxed, time seemed to have stood still and everything Fu was saying
seemed to be brilliant.
Somers had never felt
such clarity before and all his perceptions seemed heightened. Even
the music from the next room seems to be superb and Somers could
feel the logic behind it, even though it was so strange and foreign.
Fu charges Somers with
a mission. He skilfully plays on Somers love hate of the ruling
powers that be in England. He wants Somers in his
future writing to foretell
England's pitiful future and the glories, still to come, of the
restoration of China to its proper place as the Middle Kingdom centre
of the world.
Fu keeps smoking strange smelling cigarettes, which he takes from
a gold cigarette case and almost rudely blows the smoke in Somer's
direction. Somers would have normally objected, but he was entranced
by this strange man with his confident air of certainty.
With the same tact that
he displays with other leading lights of the Kangaroo saga, Somers
changed the subject and seeks to explore Fu's attitude to the White
As far as Somers could
tell, as his memories of the evening are rather confused, Fu is
Fu asserted baldly "I
tell you Mr Somers that within a hundred years Asians will make
up over 10% of the Australian population. They will highly honoured
and regarded. There will be no White Australia Policy.
will be flourishing in partnership with China and part of its sphere
will be irrelevant, and will have long been languishing under a
succession of incompetent, corrupt Prime Ministers, reminiscent
of the corrupt mandarins around our late unlamented Empress XiZi.
Indeed England will have its own Empress XiZi, ruling, or rather
appearing to rule, for over sixty years, while the English mandarinate
fusses, fights engages in debauched behavour and sinks into a sump
"Even your much
vaunted British Navy will be one tenth the size of the Chinese Navy!"
Somers bestirred himself.
He had started to feel that Fu must be some kind of meglomaniac,
although he was enjoying the experience and imagined writing it
into his current book.
"Mr Fu, you seem
very confident of all this, but next you'll be telling me that even
the local selective Sydney High School will be dominated 90% by
Suddenly Somers finds
himself laughing, Fu laughs too and they are soon howling with laughter
at this thought.
Somers cannot remember
the next day all the conversation, although he wrote it down in
the train back to 'Mullumbimby'/Thirroul the next morning.
However he does remember
Fu asserting words to the effect "In fifty years, the Australian
Prime Minister will go to the capital of China, Beijing, to kowtow
to the Chinese ruler and to swear fealty to China, thus abandoning
Australia's ties to England."
They discuss local politics.
Fu is remarkably well informed. He tells Somers of a secret, secret
army and of it's leader's identity and political connections. He
knows all about Kangaroo. He has nothing but contempt for their
"flag waving and Union Jackboots".
Fu goes on, "I
have to admit a grudging approval of the Communist Trades &
Labour Council Leader, Willie Struthers. You must get to meet him,
Mr Somers. Of course his temperance beliefs are naive and foolish,
but he is indeed a true Christian, however bizarre and benighted
that religion is. At least he is no hypocrite.
"For example, Mr
Somers, Struther's has the courage in perhaps being the one prominent
person, on either side of politics in Australia, prepared to speak
out for the brotherhood of mankind, irrespective of race.
"This is almost
foolhardy in this city. The inferiority of the 'chink' is one topic
all Australians seem prepared to believe.
"In this regard,
Struther is so unlike his Labor and Unionist colleagues, who are
racist to a man and horrified of the 'Yellow Peril' taking their
jobs and raping their women. They actually know nothing of the joys
of sexual relations, if so, they would then have something to worry
Fu claps his hands.
Into the room comes
the most glamorous and beautiful, but exotic woman Somers has ever
Fu says "Mr Somers
allow me to introduce my difficult, devious and delectable daughter,
the exotic, enigmatic and seductive Fah Lo Suee. She will dance
"In our country
women are trained to serve men, in every way. Like the long grasses,
they bend to the wind, but are deeply rooted in our soil."
Fah Lo Suee started
to dance in time to the music Somers has come to appreciate.
He compares her to reeds
waving in the wind.
All of a sudden Somers
feels totally in tune to the music. He leaps from his chair and
starts dancing. Fah Lo Suee insidiously attunes her dancing to his.
Somers had never felt he was a good dancer before, always feeling
awkward and self-conscious, but now he felt from top to toe that
he was the wind and Fah Lo Suee the reeds bending to his breath.
They danced as one,
until Fah Lo Suee takes hand and leads him to a wooden bed in the
corner of the room, covered in a thin padding. Fu Manchu has disappeared.
The music continues
and Fah Lo Suee leads him into the dance of love.
[In a dramatic reverse
of the Student/teacher role of Lady Chatterly and Mellor, Fah Lo
Suee introduces Somers the love-making he later seeks to share with
his readers in "Lady Chatterley's Lover", but also the
secret of the Shanghai Grip, which later so entranced Edward VIII,
when employed by the egregious Mrs Simpson.]
He wakes the next morning
wondering if it all a dream, except he feels wonderful, full of
joy, as if walking on a cloud.
He realizes if he is
to catch the morning train to Mullumbimby, he will have to run.
On the train, he rapidly writes a whole chapter apropos his extraordinary
However when he arrives
back in Mullumbimby, his wife almost distraught with worry at his
disappearance the previous night, turns her worry to fury as he
tries to explain his non-appearance on the evening train the night
She reads the Chapter
X he has written and in a fury tears it up. "I never want to
hear of the wretched Chinese again!"