"hey, Issy," said Tristan to the young composer, who, although now professionally known as Irving Berlin, still answered to his birth name of Israel Beilin among friends; he had fallen apart after the death last year of his wife of only five months, shut himself away, struggled with writer's block and eventually fled New York, returning to Europe and re-inventing himself as a night-club singer-songwriter, which was what had brought him to Vienna and the Cabaret Voltaire where he and Lionel Bart, a young Englishman, who should have been rivals, found that they could work well together and were now providing most of the musical repertoire for the Cabaret's performers; "hey, Tris," said Issy, "you're a bibliophage, ain'tcha?" and Tristan acknowledged that he was indeed something of a bookworm; "have you read much Dickens? it seems like Lionel's set on turning one of his stories into a musical, says it's got lots of Social Comment and could be an extra for the Voltaire," and the Romanian thought about this, then asked: "which novel?" and Issy said: "Little Dorrit, a lot of it's set in the Clink, you know, the Pokey, a Debtor's Prison where her father's banged up," and Tristan laughed: "sounds like fun, but don't expect me to prognosticate about musical shows, that's your line of business – you know, if this war really gets going, it's going to plunge Europe into a Winter that could last for years, maybe even be a repeat of the Thirty or Hundred Years Wars and Switzerland might stay neutral, but it will still be affected," and the composer gazed levelly at him: "what's your point, Tris?" and Tzara explained: "well, if Peace, or the search for it, turns into a boojum, you know, a kind of poisoned chalice, and we do have a spiritual winter stretching out for years, with no hope of Spring, no Imbolc, no celebrating the rebirth, where does that leave us? don't we need to be able to offer some kind of Hope?" and it was Issy's turn to laugh: "you getting Religion young Tristan? forming a Platoon of The Band of Hope or the Salvation Army? ha ha – I got the recruiting song for you:
"This is the army, Mister Schlubbs,
No private rooms or bathroom tubs,
You had your breakfast in bed before,
But you won't have it there any more!"