Crystal Ball Cameos is a collection of 21 verses in which nonentities emerge from the past. Schopenhauer's charlady for instance, and Dracula’s aunt. The identities of Shakespeare’s Mr W. H. and the Unknown Soldier are revealed. Lincoln’s assassination is explained, and so forth. Conceived as audition pieces for actors, these verses would not be out of places alongside Belloc’s Cautionary Tales. More
Crystal Ball Cameos is a collection of 21 verses which take as their premise which is retrospective rather than foreseeing. Characters from near or ancient history appear, none of them known to posterity, but usually with some connection with famous figures. Schopenhauer's charlady for instance, and King Croesus' accountant. Napoleon's psycho-analyst is here too, along with Lucrezia Borgia's confessor and Vlad the Impaler's Aunt Immacula. Certain historical and literary conundrums are solved, such as whether or not hieroglyphics employed the letter 'w' (see Cleopatra's chiropodist) and the identities of the Mr W. H. of Shakespeare’s sonnets and the Unknown Soldier. Superman, Batman and Spiderman have a brother who missed the limelight as did two Saxon sailors who believe they started the Hundred years War. The Mayor of Sodom has a verse to himself as do Goliath’s batman and a number of others among whom is the beggar with whom St Martin shared cloak: Who’s that banging in the night, My bones a mess, my shroud a sight? It’s not good manners interrupting Cadavers quietly corrupting.
Originally conceived as audition pieces for actors, these verses would not be out of places alongside Belloc’s Cautionary Tales and Don Marquis’ archy and metitabel.