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The Professor And The Hookah

Professor Thrupiece's extensive travels took him - naturally enough and on numerous occasions - to the shores and dusky plains of the Orient and there is plentiful evidence that, whilst there, he imbibed the culture with the same voracious intellectual appetite that characterised his approach to all manner of things - animal, vegetable and mineral. It was here that he developed habits, tendencies, curiosities and inclinations which would remain with him for the rest of his life. [See A C Amaynor [2017] Darker Shores: Professor Thrupiece, Orientalism and Transgression [The Threadbone Press].]

An early photograph confirms the Professor's oral dexterity and suggests that e was already [perhaps subconsciously] preparing for his later encounter with a hookah. [Photo courtesy Mrs Whisky McNightly]

We know that, even from the youngest age, the Professor was prone to oral exploration. No less an authority than Mrs Whisky McNightly - who more or less grew up with the Thrupiece family in their Batcombe days and shares a paternal grandfather in the shape of Ferguson Thrupiece [aka Fernando Mediantepiezza] - records that by the age of 3 he was "probing, tasting and texturising any substance he came across".

"Almost nothing he could pick up went un-oralised", she writes in The Professor Before He Was A Professor [Threadbone Press, 1996], adding "which wasn't a problem until he discovered the opposite sex. Then and only then, the family realised, that his tendency to bite off more than he could chew evidenced the fact that his physical technique developed well in advance of his mind's ability fully to comprehend the consequences of what he was doing".

Reports in the Thrupiece Archive in Great Heaving show that the school authorities were not always as understanding as they might - and surely would - have been had they realised that it was this very ability to "probe and interrogate with his tongue" which would lead to "his breakthrough in forging the vital link between the physical entity which is fluff and the sensory experience which is taste; all of which led inexorably to the concept of fluff as a foodstuff - the very essence and foundation of the thrupiecediet."

Be all that as it may, throughout his life the Professor continued to "lead with his lingula" as Ms Sizemore so beautifully puts it [and she too should know!]. This made him any number of friends [largely female] as well as enemies [largely husbands]. In the Orient, where good technique is more highly prized than in the West, it made him a demi-God. It was, apparently, a stall-keeper in Damascus - Osama Bin-Arycode - who first noticed how naturally accomplished the Professor was with a Hooka. He reported [translation courtesy Ari Bick] "when presented with the hooka, he immediately looked up and down and all over. Only then did he touch and explore, first with probing fingers and soon with increased excitement with his mouth. In no time the hooka was under his spell and he was working away until an explosion of smoke filled the air. Then he laid back in satisfied exhaustion. I have never seen it done so quickly or with such intense enthusiasm". Happily, we do not have to take Bin-Arycode on trust, for on this - or perhaps another occasion [his appetite for hookahs was insatiable] - the Professor's encounter was recorded for posterity by local artist Mustapha Crappe.

The Professor and the Hookah by Mustapha Crappe in on show at the Dorset and the Orient Exhibition at the Chetnole Gallery until March 2020

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