Here in Imaginary Bali it has been sunny every day for a thousand years. Today's forecast is for sun followed by sun with frequent sunny spells. I am lying on the beach. I've just turned the sun down a little, it was getting preposterously hot, and the locals, all girls, have popped by to thank me. I lazily reach out to the fruit bush, which is somehow always within easy reach, and pluck a ripe mango, a coconut, a pineapple and a quart of rumsky-korsakov, the local spirit. From these meagre ingredienst the girls have created an entire tourist industry which has made them all fabulously wealthy. They can't thank me enough, and I can't receive their thanks fast enough. The tourists all go to the real Bali, a million dreams from here, and deposit their litter on the beach and their sperm in each other. That is how they like it.
I learned some tragic news today: John Bali-Corn is dead. In his honour there will be an hour of mourning followed by several hours of afternoon. We will swim and make love to celebrate his life, then we will swim and make love to show our determination that life will carry on regardless, then we will swim and make love because we like to. In the evening we will have a huge bonfire on the beach and pitch rocks at the moon. There will be feasting and singing intertwined with swimming and making love, secure in the knowledge that tomorrow John Bali-Corn will die again. This is how we pass our days in Imaginary Bali.
One day a bad thing happened in Imaginary Bali. I went to my hut and found only seven things where eight should have been. I counted several times and each time the answer was the same: seven things and not eight. The girls sat in solemn silence outside my hut. One began to cry and several others comforted her. The crying girl was called Lulubell Strawberry-Punnet and the comforting girls had names too. How could such a thing happen in Imaginary Bali? In Imaginary Rio it goes on all the time, or so I've heard. In Imaginary Istanbul it is nothing remarkble. There are places where it would be astonishing if a man kept all eight of his things for an hour at a time. But Imaginary Bali is none of those places and we do things differently here.
One of the girls offered me a padlock for my hut, but my hut has no door. One offered me a fish and another a wooden bowl decorated with pictures of tropical birds. One offered me a peacock and a ripe plum. Her name was Salami Bacon-Slicer and she was not from Imaginary Bali but had made her home here after being shipwrecked on our salty shore. Her story was as long as her hair but nowhere near as soft and far less interesting. Stories are good in their own way but I have always preferred a girl's hair. All of a sudden I discovered that the eighth thing had been there all the time. I offered Salami her peacock back but she let me keep it and we shared the plum. Now I have nine things if you include the peacock, which is entirely a matter of taste. Some include it; some don't. This is how we behave together here in Imaginary Bali.
You can visit Imaginary Bali too. Some travel with visas, a celestial compass and a pipe of opium. Others arrive by winged horse. Yet others find themselves shipwrecked and decide to stay. Like so many things in Imaginary Bali it is entirely a matter of taste. I will be waiting when you arrive. Look, that's me waving from the entrance of my hut. And there's Salami, and next to us our peacock. Travel light and you'll be here in no time.