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March 23rd 2009

   The worst night I ever spent is hard to delineate, unless I begin with categories of night.  The saddest night, the loneliest night, the scariest night and so on.  Some nights are an irritating combination of circumstances.

    Many years ago, somewhere East of Munich, I slept in a culvert.  That night it rained so heavily I think I came close to drowning.  Worse was being so thoroughly wet, because under the circumstances of homelessness drying out is always such an ordeal.

    The clothes quickly take on the flavor of damp and dirt that mushrooms might like.  What the wife calls 'mankiness'.  Which is the perfect word, even if in some parts of the world the word 'mank' contains what is politely called 'undertones of depravity'.  

 

    

   But 'mank', as I think the wife means it, perfectly describes that time of drying out.   

    In a place like Austria, with its Catholic heritage, the 'manky vagabond' can be subject to arrest.  And ultimately, to avoid that fate, there was only one cure, sunshine along with nakedness.   Which even in Austria is sometimes frowned upon.

    That night remains hard to categorize, primarily because not far from that wretched culvert is the town of Mank.

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