First time I heard of it was in the library.

The Universal Dictionary of Potions I'd opened at the Bs and was flicking the stiff pages when there was a photo of Baudelaire in thick black-rimmed specs and a kind of trilby. He had that intense face. His eyes.

And it was when I'd gotten bored staring at the black and white pic I read: 

"Once favoured by damned poets the powder known as brandy, melting into goo, warms the flesh and the heart and bones and blood . . . then chills you into long hellish spans, cold abstractions."

I'd heard of the drink, the spirit Grandad Ooze had a few bottles of in his dining room, in these dark bottles, in the cabinet. One had a tacky Napoleon label. I remember that. It was more creepy than tacky when I was a kid. But yes . . . I'd never heard of the power before.

Think I remember later that day I went fishing. It would have been the carp pond in Skellington. And I probably took corned beef sandwiches. And I probably caught zilch fish-wise. Didn't even get a bite probably. But I know it was sunny. It was July or June . . . and I sat on the tackle box bored and squinting at beams I remember reflecting on the water and it was like everything was gold and I'm sure it was then: the sky, the air, I don't know. Just I wasn't alone. I was hardly ever alone. Nobody seemed alone in those days . . .

Anyway, it was that weekend they burnt the wicker. Most of the town took to the streets. There was a fairground. I was with my brother for a bit throwing darts at playing cards. He won some furry toy, a tiger. At some point, though, I wandered and went in the ghost house. It was shit. So I ate a toffee-apple. Later I saw these men and women huddled in rags around a fire, passing this tube and this strip of foil around. They looked interesting. They had like weird instruments made out of animal bones.

I don't know why but I walked over and asked: Is that brandy?

Someone, a few of them, laughed.

"Yea," a voice said. "Why, you gonna be one of us when you grow up?"

They all cackled.

When it went quiet I asked: "Can I have some?" 

A man's voice said no. But another said I was an Ooze ("Terry's son," he said and someone went: "Oh god.") and after a bit more talking a hand offered me the tube and another voice, an oldish woman, told me to suck. "Keep it in your lungs." And then I forget. I remember someone talking about a pet fox. Or a badger. And the fire, I remember watching the blue flames where the ashes collect and the smoke it kind of smelt like sweet - like ripe fruit, like this time of year with the dark nights drawing in.