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HAPPY HOLIDAYS FROM CHARLIE COCHRANE
I’ve become addicted to John Julius Norwich’s Christmas Cracker books, which appeared in our local Oxfam bookstore. They’re a pot pourri of poetry, prose, biography, anecdote and various other uncatalogable delights. Like this bit of Swinburne:
And the best and the worst of this is
That neither is more to blame
If you have forgotten my kisses
And I have forgotten your name.
A whole historical novel lies within that, but I bet that 70,000 words wouldn’t do the story the justice those twenty odd words have.
Copyright prevents me sharing some of the best items wholesale, but I’d recommend anyone trying to track down the poem All The Days of Christmas by Phyllis McGinley. It’s about a woman’s pondering on what present to get for her long time partner, but lines like:
I’ve no gold ring
And no turtle dove,
So what can I bring
To my true love?
have a resonance for some of our historical gay couples.
What I’ve most enjoyed in this book, apart from discovering wonderful poems, are the little insights into the lives of the famous.This letter to a Victorian railway company is funny in itself, with lines like:
“I took a ticket at Carlisle for Birmingham on the way to Oxford and when we arrived at Preston the recollections I had of Birmingham seven years ago made me conclude we were at Birmingham.”
“I got bewildered at Wolverhampton and spent the night there and next day was told that my Bletchley ticket was out of date.”
It’s even funnier when you see it was written by David Livingstone – maybe he should have had Stanley to help him navigate the untamed wastes of the English Midlands. Or looked at the name plates on the stations?
My absolute favourite piece is from a trial in 1836, in which Grantley Berkeley was accused of assaulting another man, one who’d allegedly attacked Berkeley and his family in the form of a review of his novel ‘Berkeley Castle’. The judge concluded:
“I really think that this assault was carried to a very inconsiderate length, and that if an author is to go and give a beating to a publisher who has offended him, two or three blows with a horsewhip ought to be quite enough to satisfy his irritated feelings.”
I’m off to find a horsewhip…
Advent Calendar Giveaway!
My giveaway today is a framed original coca-cola advert from a 1940’s edition of National geographic. I’ll pick a winner by random from the comments .
The BONUS BUMPER PRIZE QUESTION (don’t answer this – just save them up for Christmas Eve.)
2. How many ghosts visited Scrooge in A Christmas Carol?