'This is the istry of Moo Pak,' writes a schoolboy, struggling with his
assignment as he sits in the Great Hall of Moor Park, now a secondary
school. Once the home of Sir William Temple, here Swift wrote the Tale of
the Tub and tutored the nine-year-old Stella. Later the building was a
lunatic asylum, a college of theology, a code-breaking centre (during World
War II), and an institute for the study of primate behaviour.
So Jack Toledano, a Sephardic Jew from Egypt and ex-University
lecturer in English, tells his friend Damien Anderson in the course of
innumerable walks through the parks and waterways of London during the
1980s. Toledano is writing a history of Moor Park which is also a history
of himself and his times, of the Jews and the English. Moo Pak unfolds that
history in an eloquent and breathless sweep, as Anderson strives to record
what Toledano says and what he knows of his friend, a sweep that takes in
man's relation to the great apes, the nature of language, Classicism and
Romanticism, Swift, Pope, madness, despair and death.
Moo Pak is a palimpsest not only of themes that have preoccupied
Gabriel Josipovici in the past twenty-five years but of our civilisation
itself, its dreams, achievements and repressions. And it is a simple,
moving tale of friendship and its aftermath.