Rushing along through the week. Can’t think any thoughts of my own, so other people’s will have to do. If you’ve had a bad week, here are seven wonderful bits from random books I have lying around.
”Professor von Igelfeld,” he said, his voice lowered. “I understand you had some difficult this morning.”
”I did,” said von Igefled, “There was an extremely noisy reader. People kept coming in to see him and he kept talking. It was thoroughly inconsiderate behavior on his part. So I told him to keep quite—in no uncertain terms!”
The Prefect shook his head. “Most unfortunate,” he said. “Most regrettable.”
“Unfortunate that I told him off?” said von Igelfeld indignantly. “That sort of person needs to be reminded of Library rules. It was not the slightest bit unfortunate.”
”Well,” said the Prefect quietly. “That was the Pope.”
—The Finer Points of Sausage Dogs, Alexander McCall Smith
Those who enjoy titillating their palates with cooked Crustacea will be able to tell the subtle difference between the lobster and the crawfish. The French much prefer the crawfish, but admit that the lobster has the advantage of having the claw meat which is exceeoptionally delicate. The crawfish is sometimes called the ‘spiny lobster’, but this is erroneous as the lobster has claws while the crawfish hasn’t. There is also some confusion between the crawfish and the crayfish, which is a fresh-water lobster, and in turn between the crayfish and the French crevette, which is a shrimp, which, in turn, is confused with the crevette rose, which is a prawn.
—Posh Food, Andre Launay
There is always unpleasantness about this tandem. It is the theory of the man in front that the man behind does nothing; it is equally they theory of the man behind that he alone is the motive power, the man in front merely doing the puffing. The mystery will never be solved. It is annoying when Prudence is whispering to you on the one side not to overdo your strength and bring on heart disease; while Justice into the other is remarking: “Why should you do it at all? This isn’t a cab. He’s not your passenger”: to hear him grunt out: “What’s the matter—lost your pedals?”
—Three Men on the Bummel, Jerome K Jerome
Colonel Wedge seated himself on the end of the bed, amazed afresh, as he always was when he saw this daughter of his, that two such parents as his wife and himself, mere selling platers in the way of looks, could have produced an offspring so spectacular. Veronica Wedge, if the dumbest, was certainly the most beautiful girl registered among the collateral branches in the pages of Debrett’s Peerage. With the brains of a peahen, and one whose mental growth had been retarded by being dropped on its head when just out of the egg, she combined a radiant loveliness which made fashionable photographers fight for her custom. Every time you saw in the paper the headlines WEST END AFFRAY PHOTOGRAPHERS BRAWL WHILE THOUSANDS CHEER you could be pretty certain that trade rivalry concerning Veronica Wedge had cause the rift.
FiveCHARLES: Okay, let’s just turn away from the hurly burly and the rush and bustle and the very-day concerns and the going and frying and the ups and downs and the worries and the problems and the responsibilities and yesterday’s regrets and today’s anxieties and tomorrow’s fears and…
AP: (Loud throat clearing noises.)
CHARLES:…and let’s just get into that peaceful state where we’re just ready to just receive and just listen. Let’s just keep silence for just a minute while we just err…do that.
—The Theatrical Tapes of Leonard Thynn, Adrian Plass
Her question made me remember that the word “idiot” comes from a Greek root meaning private person. Idiocy is the female defect: intent on their private lives, women follow their fate through a darkness deep as that cast by malformed cells in the brain. It is no worse than the male defect, which is lunacy: they are so obsessed by public affairs that they see the world as by moonlight, which shows the outlines of every object but not the details indicative of their nature.
—Black Lamb and Gray Falcon, Rebecca West
Too soon, for she had done no work, Emma began to think about supper. What did people in the village eat? she wondered. Sunday evening supper would of course be lighter than the normal weekday meal, with husbands coming back from work. The shepherd’s pie, concocted from the remains of the Sunday joint, would turn up as a kind of moussaka at the rectory, sh felt, given Daphne’s passionate interest in Greece. Others would be taking out ready-prepared meals or even joints of meat from their freezers, or would have bought supper dishes at the supermarket with tempting titles and bright attractive pictures on the cover. Sometimes there might even be fish, for a man called round occasionally with fresh fish in the back of his van, suggesting a nobler time when fish had been eaten on Fridays by at least a respectable number of people in the larger houses. Had there even once been Roman Catholics in the village? Then there were people living alone, like herself, who would make do with a bit of cheese or open a small tin of something.
—A Few Green Leaves, Barbara Pym