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What is a shandy other than a lemonade and beer, which goes well with my nice thick black current sauce? You can neck one here, sucking on the neck, growing hard as the glass. Don't draw on the neck so hard, it may show the next morning and lead to embarrassing (SPELLING) questions. Let's go repair ourselves to the tamer gardens, the ones smoothed over by centuries of polite philosophies, where the thick lavendar borders breathe alive with bees and consider the matter further. It may not, after all, be contained in these ancient volumes. Go on, pour yourself a nice thick one. A stout shandy. Wait reader, go ahead into the garden without me for a moment. We can begin our dalliance momentarily. but first, leave me here alone to consider the point, to arrange it nicely before I serve you.

Well, Mr. Sterne, it seems we are alone at last. I'll not commit an indiscretion before my readers, so we have no fear of remaining together unchaperoned. And I am not your Eliza, you have not prepared a cosy room above your study for me. No, I am not your secret love. But I would listen to your secrets. Tell me again. Tell me the magic of Shandy. I am settled to listen now

A shandy is something that looks out of the ordinary.

I strain to hear his voice, a whispered harpsichord, a lute too long out of tune. I open my book of his to look up my half remembered definition, to let the ink strengthen these webby thoughts. I do not find it quickly, for I forgot to mark it.

I reach behind me and carefully pull out a volume at random, I open gingerly. These works are worth a considerable amount of money s. (Sterne here gasps, and thinks of his tailor's bill. But this has gone unpaid so long that the interest has compounded far beyond the worth of these poor pages, and it does not matter what someone is prepared to pay for a bit of old wisdom. So I tell him to find another way to settle his debts.) Go on, I said, surely you can lead me to the point of all this. I tease Sterne, who keeps on grinning down from the mantlepiece. I open up and read my fortune:

"For my part, I am resolved never to read any book but my own, as long as I live. (Vol 4, Chap XXX)."

Yet all of us read only in our own books, in our own minds. The Widow Wadman is only memorable because Sterne hands the pen over to us to fill in her likeness onto a blank page. I do not offer you, reader, a blank screen, for you would only call it the blue screen of death and promptly restart. Control, alt, delete, these are the key combinations in your power. Use them wisely. Will the story matter all the more to you for what you must do to reconstruct it?