Smakebit på en søndag: The Thirteen-Gun Salute

Since it’s time for another Smakebit – a «taster» – (though I skipped a week) here’s another Jack quote:

‘Why, Stephen, some people are in a hurry: men-of-war, for instance. It is no good carrying your pig to market and finding…’ He paused, frowning.

‘It will not drink?’

‘No, it ain’t that neither.’

‘That there are no pokes to be had?’

‘Oh well, be damned to literary airs and graces’

Page 114 in The Thirteen-Gun Salute by Patrick O’Brian.


Jack Aubrey quotes

I never manage to say anything very sensible about the Aubrey/Maturin books except that I love them to bits. One of the very many reasons I love them is Jack Aubrey’s way with words. Or lack of way with words, more accurately. He can turn any perfectly well known idiom or proverb into something quite delightfully ridiculous.

For example:

It will not do to meddle with him. He is the kind of lamb that lies down with the lion, in wolf’s clothing.

From The Letter of Marque, page 134. And from HMS Surprise, page 157:

‘It is not what you would call handsome,’ said Jack laughing, ‘but a bird in the hand is worth any amount of beating about the bush, don’t you agree?’

And this exchange between Jack and Stephen in The Far Side of the World (Jack being the first speaker), page 106:

‘It was the strangest experience: there he was, telling me things to my face as though he were invisible, while I could see him as plain as…’
‘The ace of spades?’
‘No. Not quite that. As plain as… God damn it. As plain as the palm of my hand? A turnpike?’
‘As Salisbury Sphere? As a red herring?’
‘Perhaps so.’

And later in the same novel, at page 293:

‘That would be locking the horse after the stable door is gone, a very foolish thing to do.’

Indeed. Again at page 306:

‘Only this morning I was thinking how right they were to say it was better to be a dead horse than a live lion.’ He gazed out of the scuttle, obviously going over the words in his mind. ‘No. I mean better to flog a dead horse than a live lion.’
‘I quite agree.’ [Stephen]
‘Yet even that’s not quite right, neither. I know there is a dead horse in it somewhere; but I am afraid I’m brought by the lee this time, though I rather pride myself on proverbs, bringing them in aptly, you know, and to the point.’
‘Never distress yourself, brother; there is no mistake I am sure. It is a valuable saying, and one that admonishes us never to underestimate our enemy, for whereas flogging a dead horse is child’s play, doing the same to a lion is potentially dangerous, even though one may take a long spoon.’

Stephen is quite as bad as Jack when he tries to use nautical expressions, otherwise he spends a bit of time confusing his friend further unless he is in a particularly amiable mood (as he is in that last exchange). Though how you’d bring a long spoon to flogging a live lion, I’m not so sure…

At it again

I succumbed. I realised a little while back that one of the reasons Fiction and I were at odds was that whatever I tried to read had one major fault: It was not Patrick O’Brian. I tried to resist starting another reread because, really, there are so many books in mnt tbr and a reread takes two months at least, two months when I don’t get to reduce the mnt at all. So I read some non-fiction, which kept me amused, but then decided that O’Brian was worth it, and now I’m half-way into Master & Commander.

I’m not given to envy, but oh, how I envy those lucky people who get to read the Aubrey/Maturin saga for the first time. I even envy my past self. Had I realised what was going on I would have savoured it more. However, a reread is no bad thing, either, I still discover new treasures (and smile in recognition at old).

The 20-book set must be one of my best book-puchases ever. Talk about value for money. I bought most of them at «3 for 2» in Worthing, and at least one second-hand – in the Oxfam bookshop i Oxford, in fact. And I read them when I first bought them in 2000 (pre-blog days), and again in 2002, 2003, 2005 and 2007. And my father has read them once. So with this reread we’re up to 7 reads. See why I buy books rather than borrow them?

Blue at the Mizzen

blue_mizzenIn which we wave goodbye and say hello.

Finished Blue at the Mizzen yesterday. I had to wave farewell to Jack and Stephen. Desolation Island ain’t innit. I suppose I could start all over again, but first I have to reread Pamela for a course. Lucky for Pamela she’s not a real person, as I think I might have strangled her. I would certainly have drowned Robinson Crusoe, the «hero» (using the term very loosely) of the book we read for the last session. But perhaps he were to be hanged? That would explain why he was so unperishable. I’m looking forward to Shamela, being next on our list. It might possibly reconsole me to Richardson that at least he furnished food for such excellent pulling of legs.

Saw The Shipping News Saturday. What a wonderful film. I have no idea what it was all about, though.

Funny moment Saturday evening: I have a somewhat squewed concept of time, especially as regards my own age. I was 13 last year, I’m sure (at least I don’t feel any older), unfortunately that would make this, uhm, 1988. Which it obviously isn’t. Anyway, was out with a friend and we went to TGI Fridays. They had a sign saying you had to be 24 to enter. I actually had to stop: «Am I?» Well, a quick calculation told me I had nothing to worry about. However, earlier in the day we had been to an Irish pub (excellent fish and chips!) where the sign was 20 years. And I had actually hesitated just for a moment…

Funnily enough I never seem to forget that I’m above legal drinking age, though.

The bottle stands by you, sir.