No Time To Read?

Reading & Writing

When I was young I used to have a framed print of Charles Edward Perugini’s ‘Girl Reading’ on my wall. It’s amazing how many paintings there are of women reading – perhaps because it was considered a genteel, passive image, demure, ladylike and calming. It also suggests virginity or purity; the girl in white, the uneaten apple.

How do we read, physically? The small child lies on their front, calves lifted, feet wiggling, hands on the sides of the forehead, a comic between the elbows. As a child I had a process for reading comics different from reading novels. The comic placed open on the dining table, a mug of tea one side, biscuits on the other; a ritual.

Then the student phase; sprawling, slinking, dangling, the legs raised, the head hanging off a sofa, the book suspended from above, a dozen impossible positions. Experimental novels, angry stories, tales to explain the world. I read walking, in queues, in stations, cafés, waiting rooms, the thought of being without a book quite sick-making.

That’s the physical part, but how do we read? How do we transform marks on a piece of paper or on a screen into images in our head? Each time I go back to a favourite book I imagine it a little differently. Some books change completely according to the age at which they’re read. Our ability to enjoy linguistic complexity changes along with our patience and tolerance. I skip a lot of books I might once have at least tried. There are an awful lot of books on the syntax and origins of writing.

Books describe, but scripts are different. You can always spot good scriptwriters (I’m not one) because their pages often appear completely unreadable. The theatre director Richard Eyre described the writer Charles Wood’s work;

‘His work is not easy to perform. The dialogue is so highly distilled and insistently singular…there is no contemporary writer who has received so little of his deserved public acclaim.’ He goes on to claim that Wood was responsible for the 20th century’s theatrical revolution, not John Osbourne. Trying to read his work on the page is not easy because nothing is what you think it is. For instance, what is Sir Geoffrey talking about?

For a start he’s not Sir Geoffrey, he’s a jobbing actor fulfilling a role, and he’s not discussing the sky but a woman’s black eye. Playscripts are designed to be read aloud. People do not speak as we read, and nor do we wish them to.

Reading demands time and attention and quietude. In our modern world the attention fragments. Victorian and Edwardian books were intended to be read in peace. This typical sentence from the highly readable HG Wells comes from ‘The History of Mr Polly’, a book that disturbed me as a child.

Nothing can better demonstrate the collective dullness of our community, the crying need for a strenuous intellectual renewal than the consideration of that vast mass of useless, uncomfortable, under-educated, under-trained and altogether pitiable people we contemplate when we use that inaccurate and misleading term, the Lower Middle Class.

Today such a sentence would be broken into five bite-sized parts, the better to comprehend it. Henry James takes the unreadable sentence to new heights. But a languid facility with language also marks us out as people with time on our hands. How we used to read is not how we read now because of time, not just education. Here’s Charles Dickens writing to his clockmaker;

Since my hall clock was sent to your establishment to be cleaned it has struck the hours with great reluctance, and after enduring internal agonies of a most distressing nature, it has now ceased striking altogether. Though a happy release for the clock, this is not convenient to the household. If you can send down any confidential person with whom the clock can confer, I think it may have something on its works it would be glad to make a clean breast of.

A person in command of language may use it as a plaything. Joyce Carol Oates is cut from this cloth, painting with words in a way that gives us back time to read. She writes more than many ever read. Like Dickens she is profligate with words but always in control.

In ‘Apeirogon’, Colum McCann writes a multi-faceted novel that manages not to be a novel at all but a rotating tableau vivant. His protagonists are an Israeli and a Palestinian who both lost daughters in conflict and unite to open a conversation between the entrenched sides.

Instead of following a linear development, the author divides the book into hundreds of small sections, each thematically illuminating a detail. I found it wonderful and exhausting in equal measure. It’s an approach Craig Brown takes more lightly and in some ways to better effect in ‘One Two Three Four’, his book about those tangentially affected by the rise and fall of the Beatles. Dare we consider the farcical tragedy of the West Bank against the career arc of a boy band? Why not if they both affected lives?

Non-linearity breaks the time barrier – we can pick up and leave these books whenever we want. Perhaps it could provide a way forward in this time-poor era. It may not be the only answer but it’s a start.

46 comments on “No Time To Read?”

  1. Martin Tolley says:

    Harriet Devine’s blog has a seemingly inexhastable supply of pictures of ladies reading: https://harrietdevine.typepad.com/harriet_devines_blog/

  2. Mary Rutherford says:

    Non-linearity – also good for audiobooks you keep falling asleep to? Seems to be a choice of
    fall asleep or stay staring awake until 5.30am. Been there, done that many times.

  3. Mary Rutherford says:

    Not always sure about the virginal bit with some of the Victorian painters. Weren’t bare forearms supposed to be a come-on in those times? (Can’t really see it myself).

  4. Brian says:

    Interesting to note that the model for “A Girl Reading” was Perugini’s wife, Kate Macready Dickens, daughter of Charles Dickens.

    She also modelled for Millais as well as some other Pre-Raphelite artists.

  5. snowy says:

    Victorians eh.., much simpler if you realise everything can be split into Sex – Money or Death.

    The exposed arm was nothing remarkable, gloves would be removed according to circumstance eg. eating. But the glove itself would become a shibboleth, a totem and a fetish, [though not a sexy one, well there are always a few odd people about, but generally not], it did get a bit out of hand though:

    A Guide to Glove Flirtation.

    From ‘The Lady’s Every-Day Book’ [1875], slightly re-formatted for clarity.

    ‘I wish to become acquainted’, carry your gloves with the finger-tips downward.

    ‘Introduce me to your company’, use them as a fan.

    ‘I am contented,’ hold them loosely in the right hand.

    ‘I wish to be rid of you very soon’, bite the fingertips.

    ‘Yes’, drop one of them.

    ‘No’, clench them rolled up in the right hand.

    ‘I am indifferent’, draw one glove half way on the left hand.

    ‘Get rid of your company’, fold them up carefully.

    ‘Follow me’, strike them over the left shoulder.

    ‘I love another’, tap your chin with them.

    ‘I’m engaged’, toss them up gently.

    ‘Be careful, somebody is watching us’, twirl them round the fingers.

    ‘I hate you’, turn them inside out.

    ‘I am satisfied’, hold them loose in the left hand.

    ‘I wish I were with you’, smooth them out gently.

    ‘I am displeased’, strike them over the hand.

    ‘I am vexed’, put them away.

    ‘Do you love me?’, put one on the left hand, with thumb exposed.

    ‘I love you’, drop them. [I’m assuming we are still taking about gloves here?]

  6. Dawn Andrews says:

    I suppose the apple in that picture is a warning, don’t get too knowlagable my girl or you’ll fall on your Fanny, possibly by gaslight. I love Dicken’s letter to his clock fixer.

  7. Paul C says:

    Craig Brown wrote a wonderful book of very short chapters entitled ‘One on One’ (US: Hello Goodbye Hello) which describes 101 meetings between the famous and infamous from about 1890 to the present day : Marilyn Monroe meeting Nikita Khruschev who then meets someone else who then meets someone else in a linked chain of meetings including Elvis, Rasputin, Mark Twain, Hitler, Warhol, etc. Marvellous book to dip into if short of time.

    In the hardback Craig Brown wrote that after one meeting the Beatles never met Elvis again. I wrote to him saying that George Harrison met Elvis again in 1972 and received a very friendly reply stating that he’d add a footnote to the UK paperback.

    Very impressed with Mr B taking the time to write back. Top man !

  8. Liz Thompson says:

    Yes, the Dickens letter made me laugh. And I do agree that audible books can cause total insomnia, until you reach the end at least.
    I do find that books, however enticing the subject or erudite the author, are very hard to start reading when they arrive in the post, and I find they are over 500 pages long and will take up more than their fair share of the bookcase (or book pile). Somehow, it deters me from starting them, which just makes the bookcase/pile problem worse. Jerusalem was over 1000 pages, and I never did start it, despite it being set in Northampton which I knew well. However, the problem was solved when it came out on Audible. The book has been given away. Now I just have to nerve myself to start listening to 30 odd hours……..

  9. John Griffin says:

    Am I odd/weird/out of step in that I REALLY REALLY do not like audiobooks?

  10. Jan says:

    Audiobooks are good for listening to when driving I used to listed to them on my car drives to and from Charing X and on my recent commutes into Somerset there’s only so much radio and CD music to comfortably listen to …..

    Oddly enough though they put me straight to kip if I listen to them late on Mary Rutherford hits the nail right on the head there. Which makes me wonder if I was just lucky getting home at 4 or 5 a.m. After listening to a story for an hour on my commutes into the London suburbs or on the journey back home after the Somerset nursing home late shifts…..

  11. Brooke says:

    Paintings of women reading. For over 50 years a copy of “Katia reads” (Balthasar Klossowski de Rola) has accompanied me—sometimes hanging on bedroom wall, sometimes on wall above desk. Recently a copy of “Anna Attinga Frafra” (Paul Strand) has joined Katia. I prefer the symbolism of woman actively seeking wisdom/knowledge over the “chastity endangered by knowledge” symbolism of Dickens son-in-law and his sort.

    The real wonder is using only 26 marks plus a few dots and squiggles for organization purposes to communicate a universe of thoughts, emotions, actions. How did we transition from chthonic storytelling to overwrought Dickens and JC Oats… I think the responses of the clockmaker and his assistant would be more interesting, colorful and succinct.

    Beg pardon, but we’re reading all the time; we don’t have time for leisure reading. And given a choice of a 500 page novel/mystery of self-involved writing or RS short-listed book, I know where I’m spending my time.

    Cheers.

  12. Cornelia Appleyard says:

    I don’t like audiobooks either – just another addition to the endless background noise.

  13. admin says:

    My problem with audiobooks is physical. I don’t have a commute, I don’t stop and listen or work and listen, it’s all too linear. Back when there used to be fun I would go for long walks on a beach and listen to podcasts. Now there’s comfort and privacy inside a hardback.

  14. Cornelia Appleyard says:

    ‘ comfort and privacy inside a hardback’

    Exactly.

  15. Nick says:

    [Snowy] Groan! Deliberate pun? 🙂

  16. Martin Tolley says:

    With you John and Cordelia/ Can’t get on with audiobooks. I keep trying – my local virtual library keeps pushing them, I download and start, but most of the ones I’ve tried are just too slow…. you can’t skip forward easily or skim ahead to skip the dull descriptive stuff, nor can you skip back a page or two to sort out just who a character is etc. And I seem to be one of those people who cannot get ear-bud things to stay in comfortably.

  17. Peter T says:

    In pictures of ladies reading, they most often have their clothes on. Is reading a substitute for stripping?

    I love the note from Dickens to his clockmaker; it’s beautiful. When I first read it, I thought that I understood the quote from Wells. I read it more carefully and wasn’t sure. The more I look at it, the more uncertain I am as to what Mr Wells wanted to say.

  18. snowy says:

    Peter you might care to compare Little Miss Prim up there with ‘The Reader of Novels’ by Antoine Wiertz.

  19. Ian Luck says:

    Mr Griffin – I detest audiobooks. I learned to read so that I would not have to be read TO. Were I to be deprived of my sight, I’d probably change my mindset. Every month, Amazon keeps reminding me to download free audiobooks from their subsidiary company whose adverts ruined countless videos for me on youtube. I have no wish to do such a thing. Were I to listen to audiobooks on my way to work, I’d probably end up under a truck – I cycle everywhere, and for me, at least, headphones and cycling do not mix. I have tried them in the past, but the reading, no matter by whom, has a soporific effect on me. This means that they are not even suitable for listening to at work, as being asleep there is not something I find desirable. Add to that, the fact that batteries can run out or lose charge before you’ve finished listening, too. Audiobooks strike me as being rather lazy, actually. ‘I can’t be arsed to read a real book, but I can listen to it, and tell people that I read it’. Like the inexplicable appearance of colouring books for adults – I got a couple from various subscription boxes a few years ago, and they both went into the recycling without even having the shrinkwrap removed from them, audiobooks have become trendy. I don’t do trendy.

  20. snowy says:

    Nick, apologies for your pain – an inadvertent slip…

    [It took me 3 re-readings to realise what I’d done; I’ll fix it in the final edit.]

    * Looks round *

    [Oh…!]

  21. Helen Martin says:

    My husband, on our honeymoon wrote the following to the T. Eaton Co. in Winnipeg, Manitoba from our then home in Lytton, B.C. “Gentlemen: we have ordered a mattress and box spring from your company, together with six legs to screw into the appropriate points on the latter. When we returned from our travels we found that only the six legs had arrived. For some reason my wife objects to having the legs screwed into her shoulders, hips and ankles every evening. I am hoping for a further shipment from you very soon. Yours very truly…” I wonder if Mr. Dickens received a response as quickly as Ken did.

    Gloves. My Grandmother, born in 1890, had a firm feeling about gloves. I called to her to hurry or we would miss our bus, but she stalled just inside the door until her gloves were on before hurrying to join me. “My Mother taught me that no lady goes out without he gloves completely on.” Of course, flirting would not have been within her vocabulary.

  22. Jan says:

    Being slow I have only just twigged that the audio books u r on about here are accessed via the computer. Doh! I was really talking about the CDs and audio tapes you can hire from the library!

    This being pitifully slow I know.
    It’s because I’m part of the technology dinosaur group.

    Here whilst on this topic does anybody know if firms still fit old style CD players + speakers as replacements into motors? Years back I had a fresh cassette radio cassette fitted but it’s certainly difficult to find companies fitting CD players now.

  23. Paul C says:

    There was a story in the press a few years ago about a motorist listening to an audiobook in the early hours which made no sense to him. He could not follow the narrative and thought he was going insane or having a stroke. He was very frightened so pulled over to listen with great concentration. He still couldn’t follow the words and feared for his sanity.

    He then realised that the CD player was on the random track selector……………

  24. Jo W says:

    Hello Helen,
    That tale of your missing bed made me chuckle so loudly that Alan asked what it was about. Now,of course,we both have the image of you and Ken starting off your married life, balancing precariously on three legs each. 😉

  25. Brooke says:

    A word, or several, for audiobooks. First, CDs or streaming? The latter obviously, as I can use laptop, desktop or kindle.

    I enjoy using our library services for audiobooks. I can listen to popular light reading without spending money. I can also try out authors according to my rule–if I can’t bear hearing the author’s style, it’s not a book for me (like friends who can’t stand Beethoven but love Mozart). Audible also has a sample feature.

    The reader’s voice makes a huge difference. I can no longer read Christie; however, Joan Hickson reading is a treat.

    Audiobooks, like music, allow a break in my work routine (like reading during lunch) and are calming in the time between work and preparing dinner.

    Of course, there is economies; streaming doesn’t take up physical space and is relatively cheap–a plus for my local library and for my budget and small living space.

  26. snowy says:

    Like many others above, I like the idea of Audiobooks, but struggle to find circumstances in which I could enjoy them properly. Even when delivered directly to one’s ears a book still demands your undivided attention.

    Jan, an Auto-electrician will fit one for you. Get a quote, and then when you’ve come round from the shock [£200-300], have a think. Is this the easiest/best way to get sounds into your ears.

    If the car had one when you got it and it is now bust it doesn’t mean it’s ‘Game Over’ just yet.

    On or near the radio are there: a round hole labelled ‘Aux’ or a rectangular slot labelled ‘USB’, or a symbol that looks like a rune resembling a letter ‘B’ labelled ‘Bluetooth’?

  27. Jan says:

    Nah Snowy there’s none of them things( we are talking about a 17 or 18 year old Skoda here)
    One of the speakers is a bit Harry dodgy also it’s not just the CD player that’s playing up.
    It will likely cost quite enough to get him through his M.O.T nevermind introduce him to auto electricians that is unless they source their gear from scrapyards. Mr. Skod himself is not worth that much more than that sort of dosh. I’ll just have to learn to get on with Radio 4.

    Mind you winter is approaching and it is the season Mr. Skod enjoys best.
    He lights up like a ruddy Christmas tree throughout the colder months with all sorts of temperature and ice warnings it’s quite spectacular really he must think he’s in the home country. Does his own weather forecasts and everything. Gets well involved with it all.

    Speaking of which I’ve just been outdoors for an hour or 2 watching the Draconids meteor shower it’s getting a bit parky now – and windy. This stargazing is all very well in the summer when you can actually kip outside dozing off between viewings then waking up + watching some more but not so much fun in winter. Come January I will be lying there under duvet and blankets wearing me old skisuit with a hot water bottle in the large front jacket pocket( bit of a kangaroo type affair this pocket) but a good hot water bottle pouch. Thick boots woolly hat hood of Ski jacket fastened tightly and at least one scarf. plus ski socks and mittens Thinking on it i might actually wear the c o v i d Facemask as my clock is the only bit left uncovered. I was actually considering tonight whether I could set up an extension lead to come out of the hall window and power an electric blanket instead of the hot water bottle. Decisions decisions.
    To put the icing on the cake I only saw one spectacular Draconid the rest were a bit tame.

  28. snowy says:

    “I was actually considering tonight whether I could set up an extension lead to come out of the hall window and power an electric blanket instead of the hot water bottle.”

    DON’T DO THIS!, one slip with your mug of cocoa and the result could be catastrophic: [ranging from bad 80’s perm to full on ‘Bride of Frankenstein’ neither a particularly good look… or death].

    [Given this is actually the actual 21st century, [but still no jet-packs?], you could prop an old mobile phone up outside in the garden facing the sky and beam the video from the phone’s camera to a tablet, and then sit in the kitchen tucked up nice and warm with a biscuit! {It requires a free app, like IPcam, but the rest is a doddle}].

  29. Helen Martin says:

    But not nearly as much fun, Snowy. Why do people fly halfway around the world to see an eclipse when there will be excellent tv coverage at home? The possibility of an electric shock is a good point, however. I envy Jan her viewing point because we’re too far in the city and are lucky if we see any perseids at all.

  30. Jan says:

    I considered what would happen if I fell a kip or entered the unconscious stage of hypothermia and it started raining/snowing. I was gonna put the actual electricity connections within a bin bag covering and similarly covering the
    Plug thing on the blanket. Electric blankets are weird now you can bung them in the washing machine. Weird eh! ?I have spilt me cup of tea on it whilst plugged in and avoided the perm / toast scenario so far. Then I have disengaged said blanket from the electricity connection and bunged it into the washing machine. This is one part of technology I am in touch with!

    But it is probably a duff idea.

    But it’s no duffer an idea than the othersuggestion. As I’ve
    1. No laptop
    2. No iPhone or Android phone. Not because of any anti technology feelings I am just a slow adopter you know the fast adopters of technology I am just a v. slow one. Besides iPhones are n’t too clever for the hard of hearing i.e. Meself.

    One firm makes an android phone that’s been adapted for the deafer user the “Doro” now I did toddle off to the warehouse of Car Phones but their young fella told me how in his opinion how in an attempt to make the phone more suitable for the elderly Doro had in fact made a hash of it and cocked it right up. From what he showed me this was demonstrably true. very honest he was proper clever really.

    So I won’t be engaging apps and streaming anytime soon.. Half the years great The other half you just do your best with. To be inside a proper dark sky environment is such a privilege it’s not to be wasted
    The downside to this v rural living being dodgy intermittent Wi-Fi signals and even worse phone signals.

  31. Jan says:

    Sewy I got in a reply there not mentioning that the daftest idea of the lot was to suggest watching shooting stars on a little screen instead of across a cloudless star filled sky was totally loopy. For one the meteors would not be picked up that clearly in comparison with live viewing and @ the same time it sort of essentially misses the point. Despite me weather whinges being out there is central to the experience.

    My resistance failed me in the end though as evidenced here……. I suppose I should be ashamed. I am thoroughly. Apo!ogies.

  32. Helen Martin says:

    There, Jan, my point exactly. Seeing the thing itself is better than any reproduction.
    Regarding apps. Our government has an app that will warn you if you have been near someone who tests positively for covid. You have to have a smart phone and I think the group most likely not to have one is the post retirement generation and that is the one they want to alert. Another example of these techie types not analyzing the problem properly.

  33. Jan says:

    Yes that’s the real problem Helen the folk most at risk are the least likely to own the tech that “combats “” the illness. The UK government’s try out area for this same app – well same function at any rate was I.O.W (Isle of Wight) which as a retirement zone is about your equivalent of Vancouver Island. Bit of a foreseeable waste of time and effort!

  34. Helen Martin says:

    Just what I would expect, Jan.

  35. snowy says:

    No need to apologise, Lady J. if you are going to pull legs you have to expect a bop on the nose every so often. [smile] [I do get it really…]

    The list of cocked-up Government IT projects is endless and the ‘Test and Trace’ app is another classic, the first version didn’t work on 90% of phones, the second version didn’t allow users that had had NHS tests update their status, it’s hopeless. The current version of the theory is that it is a proxy measure that will remove infection vectors from the general population. Good luck with that!

    It is another wowzer of an idea from ‘Matt Hancock’, who is a bit obsessed with apps, he even launched his own Social Network [not inflated with his own importance much….].

    “Thursday, 1 February, 2018

    Starting today, 1 February, there is an exciting new development in the world of digital communications – the Matt Hancock app. I am the first MP to have my own app and it is a big step forward in the way MPs are able to communicate with their constituents.

    On the app, you will be able to get updates from me on all the news and issues going on in West Suffolk. But the most exciting part of the app is through the Have Your Say section. There, you can contact me, as well as getting in touch with other app users in the community. I want to hear about the issues that are most important to you.

    This free app is launched today and is available for both iOS/Android devices by searching “Matt Hancock MP” in Apple’s App store or in the Google Play store. I hope you will download it today.”

    It turned out to be a complete security and privacy nightmare, bit of an own goal given he was ‘Digital Minister’ at the time.

    We hadn’t laughed so much since it was revealed that the government was electronically tagging dead people to stop them running away.

    [Administrate incompetence rather than a fear of the ‘Zombie Apocalypse’.]

  36. Philip Linfield says:

    Well, I think that, at the moment, a lot of us are finding plenty (at times anyway) of quietude for taking on a book or two that we might have balked at in times past, due to length and our variant distractions. I have many on my bookshelves but have recently taken on one of them, a book I bought 52 years ago from Munro’s Bookstore in Victoria BC, as a boy, shortly after my family moved there from Worthing. I’m 2/3 of the way through The Last Man (reading it for the first time) by Mary Shelley and finding it very readable (not exciting but the language is beautiful and character references to Shelley and Byron add to the interest). Why have I brought this one out at last? OK – it’s a pandemic novel. I am just getting into the plague section. I’m on a Long Novel roll actually – fear for me people – next in sight: The Mysteries of Paris by Eugene Sue (1359 pages!) – otherwise the reference to Charles Wood is interesting. Apart from his many plays he contributed to, or wrote, lots of screenplays including Help starring … er, … Damn! … my brain … and How I Won The War featuring errm … oh, who was that …? Oh, and Tony Richardson’s 1968 Charge of the Light Brigade. I saw it when it first came out. I just remember some bits – that was the first time I ever saw John Gielgud (Lord Raglan); David Hemmings on horseback coming to his end with an explosive bullet in his face; and Trevor Howard’s officer having his wicked way with Jill Bennett’s character – I would love to see an expanded edition of Brief Encounter’s illicit flat meeting (with things actually happening and the door closed) with Trevor Howard’s disreputable seductive noises and Jill Bennet’s responses dubbed in. Oh dear – perhaps I should get back to the wanderings of Lionel Verney (the last man). All the best to everyone for what is the Canadian Thanksgiving weekend – (I’m now in Vancouver … ‘Hallo Helen.’)
    Otherwise – forgive me Admin, but the Beatles we’re hardly a ‘boy band’.

  37. Jan says:

    Here Snowy you will no doubt know this is there like a proper term for someone who feels they need to manoeuvre every situation or statement they come across in order to prove (to themselves essentially as nobody else matters that much) a sort of intellectual superiority?

  38. snowy says:

    Know it? I probably am it, vain creature that I am.

  39. Jan says:

    Alright don’t go “I’ll confess” on me or you’ll take the sport out of it.

    An element of Pots + kettles here perhaps. ( Except that most stuff I know I know eff all about )

  40. snowy says:

    *Giggle*

    It’s a more complicated question than it seems, the answer is likely to be found within the boundaries of……. the ‘Dark Triad’.

    The three components of the triad are:

    ” Narcissism, grandiosity, pride, egotism, lack of empathy.

    Machiavellianism, manipulation and exploitation of others, absence of morality, unemotional callousness, high level of self interest.

    Psychopathy, continuous antisocial behavior, impulsivity, selfishness, callous and unemotional traits (CU), remorselessness. ”

    [It reads like the Job Description for every Bond Villain ever.]

  41. Ed DesCamp says:

    Snowy – also reads like the job description for many of the bosses I’ve worked for.

  42. snowy says:

    I’ve been very lucky and not met many psychopaths in my career, and never a direct boss. The few that I did have dealings with, ahem… didn’t last terribly long.

    One was escorted out the front door clutching a bin-bag, one went off with ‘stress’ and the other left the country, [he went to the US [Sorry about that] because nobody here would trust him with a whelk stall. I can’t remember his name now, everybody referred to him as ‘Slime’].

  43. Helen Martin says:

    Information from across the room: Perhaps Mr. Hancock didn’t have the right valve for his app. to know if the gentleman lives at #1 Railway Cutting but that wouldn’t be in Mr. Hancock’s riding.

    Philip: hope you had a good Thanksgiving. I have had computer problems for several days but am enjoying the nice weather today. At least the problems weren’t due to the windstorm. Isn’t it great that Munroe’s is still operating?

    Ed: Did you get any of the rain/wind storm we had?

  44. snowy says:

    Mr Hancock’s only contact with valves would have been in connection with his own trumpet. [Given his instinctive insight into all things technical he’s probably blowing into the wide bit, the bell-end].

  45. Ian Luck says:

    Snowy – That’s a rather unfortunate turn of phrase, there, viz., “Blowing into the bell-end”… Readers of ‘Viz’ comic, and those familiar with the love of arcane and smutty colloquialisms shown by Messrs. Vic Reeves, and Bob Mortimer, will get the gist.

  46. snowy says:

    I had honed that to an edge so fine you could split atoms with it, but it absolutely refuses to work on the page!

    [It needs to shift tone; it works in some voices eg. Kenneth Williams and David Mitchell but not others.]

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