Keep It in Mind

Sunday, May 31, 2009

Dear Maud,

Brace yourself, for yet again an ampule of ichor, loosed from a heavenly vein, has plopped on to the postcard that passes as my soul; and, yet again, this unearthly excretion has conveniently composed itself into a grammatical measure, viz.:

Life is a furnace, and we are the fuel that feeds it.

Ho hum. (Clouds one day, carbon the next.) Like Isocrates, I stand accused of ‘cleverness’, by his ubiquitous Lysimachis if no-one else.

… if I shall appear to speak well, I may show that I am subject to the charges which he has made about my cleverness; while if it turns out that I speak less ably than he has led you to expect, you may think that mine is the weaker cause.

Others have considered me glib; why, even my mum-in-law once deemed me slippery. Slippery? Yes, slippery – or glibberig as the Dutch would have it. (Hence ‘glib’.)

How, then, do I answer the charge? Obliquely. Some time ago, two dogs gambolled on a beach. I know; I was there. Red was fast and greedy, Albie was not. Two balls were thrown. Red mouthed the large one, but never for long; Albie took the little one, and grasped the thing fully.

Keep it in mind, Maud.

The dangers of brevity, however, are real. Take quips, for example. ‘I like your jokes,’ Barbara tells Adam in the Glittering Prizes.

‘I don’t like them,’ Adam said. ‘They’re like a foreign language, only one that one’s begun to think in. As an alternative to thought.’

One last thing. Lately, I have become that most despis’d of things: a jam fiend. My mission? To leave no lid unturned, no jar unopened. My latest conquest? Rhubarb and pineapple: four sticky fingers.

Gods preserve me!

Yours etc.