Constable Cocks knew a lot of words once – words like compliableness, cantankerous and counterperformance – until one of his pals called him a talking banana with a moustache. That shocked him to the core of an existence, which had been founded on hearsay, female assistence and newspaper cuttings only, so that he had always felt frail for his lack of solid knowledge. A man can live without his right arm, his grandfather used to say, but he can’t get on in the world without a brain. But a banana didn’t have a brain. It was mushy and though it looked vaguely masculine, it felt feminine as soon as the peel was off. Constable Cocks resented his being compared to a fruit. When he got home, he threw his boots in a corner and snortily spit on the ground.