I’m never going to write these

I keep a scrap list in Ecco of things I really ought to blog about, or stick into a “wormseye,”:http://guardian.co.uk/wormseyeview or something. It has got out of control. So here are some things which provoked thought, without the thoughts I thought they had provoked.

* _Baiser_ and “make love”
Some words get dirtier as they grow older. There is a priceless moment in a Richard Hannay book ( _Mr Standfast_ ) when the hero’s skin crawls at the thought of the villain “making love to” the heroine. Made the FWB’s eyeballs swivel in her skull when she first read it. Similarly, _baiser_ now means, in modern French, “to fuck”. When I grew up, aaargh, it meant “to kiss”, as it did to Voltaire. The effect of the change might please his dirty old ghost. _”Ce n’est pas ma main qu’il faut baiser”,_ says the Pope’s experienced daughter when she rescues Candide from the Spanish Inquisition.

* Captain Carrot as an archetype.
When I met Terry Pratchett at the Aventis prize (did I mention I had met Terry Pratchett at the Aventis prize-giving?) No? Anyway, when I met Terry Pratchett at the Aventis Prize giving, I was able to tell him the story of how I preached on _Small Gods_ in the chapel at Wadham College. But it occurred to me that his most successful religious creation is actually Captain Carrot. I was unable to articulat this, or anything much else, very well. But Carrot is actually the figure in the unconscious of every policeman and every criminal, who stands for justice, and who makes policing something more than the exercise of brute force. You could use the Carrot as the unit of legitimacy.

* Q. Why did America prevail in Korea and not in Vietnam?
A. Wouldn’t it be nice to know?

* Pictures vs stories wrt W. Owen.
Which is more effective in the long run? The photos from Abu Ghraib, or the “word-picture”:http://www.warpoetry.co.uk/owen1.html of a gas attack in _Dulce et Decorum est_?

* The bent prayer and fertility study.

* There’s an entire page of witch-doctors advertising in Ms London.
In fact there are 2 pages, split by a page of ads recruiting whores. So much for the enlightenment.

* Batteries and digital rights as guarantors of obsolescence.
Otherwise the economy stops. How come the battery in a Thinkpad dies after a year, while the battery in my phone will go on for ever?

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5 Responses to I’m never going to write these

  1. Rupert says:

    Baiser… I remember our French teacher – a Cornishman called Harry Trevena, an exemplar of eccentricity whose lessons seemed to consist of classical music and wild diversions about the moon and cheese – chortling wildly when telling us that “It used to mean ‘to kiss’ but it’s gone down” giggle giggle “in the world. Literally.” He also managed to tell us what to “faire une pipe” really meant without actually telling us. A true teacher who taught by osmosis and joviality.

    This was (scary calculation) about twenty five years ago.

    Oh, the batteries? LiIon lives for a certain number of recharges. You recharge your laptop more, so the battery dies sooner. There may be a sermon in this.

    Oh x 2, I’m still seeing the Scientology ads. Can’t you spot them and bolt a link to xenu.net underneath?

    Oh x 3, the writing seems fine from here. Looking forward to the G2 piece – have been pushing the Worm’s Eye piece on same at people.

  2. el Patron says:

    It takes a couple of hours, apparently, for the ad blocking to come on stream.

  3. Beck Laxton says:

    Andrew, you should read more fiction! The priceless moment in the Hannay occurs in dozens of novels – in fact it ought to be possible to track fairly precisely just when ‘making love to’ stopped meaning ‘paying court to’. It’s all over the place in Victorian novels, particularly. (I can’t think of any examples just now, naturally.) What’s the publication date of the Hannay? I wonder when it finally became impossible to use the phrase with its older meaning?

    This reminds me, circuitously (you don’t mind that kind of thing here, do you?) of my favourite misplaced thingummajig – also cited by Kingsley Amis – in Ian Fleming’s ‘Casino Royale’. Bond is thinking about Vesper Lynde:
    ‘As a woman, he desired her….’

    Ah, I’ve just thought of an example: Cole Porter’s ‘Night and Day’. ‘Night and day under the hide of me/There’s an oh, such a hungry yearning burning inside of me./And its torment won’t be through/Till you let me spend my life making love to you,/Day and night, night and day.’
    That must surely be the earlier meaning? Would that be roughly contemporary with the Hannay? 1930s (wild guess)?

  4. el Patron says:

    Roughly contemporary. The Hannay novel is set in 1916-17 and can’t have been published many years later. I think the great shift in meaning took place in the Forties and Fifties.

    As for the Bond, which is great, have you ever read “Bond Stikes Camp?” A parody that redeems the whole sad life of Cyril Conolly, in which Bond has to get up in full drag in order to seduce a colonel in the Jugoslav KGB who turns out to be … but I won’t spoil it. If I have a moment, I will scan it in.

  5. arnold says:

    Well, one example among many:

    ‘Scarcely had she begun .. than she found her subject cut up — her hand seized — her attention demanded, and Mr Elton actually making violent love to her ..’

    Author, author? See here.

    Oh yes, do scan “Bond Strikes Camp”, an absolutely flawless piece of parody. It’s always interested me that the gay club in the story is called The Kitchener. No doubt Lord K’s sexuality had been the subject of after-dinner gossip for years, but 1963 must have been about the first occasion when a writer could make a knowing allusion to it in a short story and expect a sufficient number of his readers to pick up the joke.

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