Tuesday, 1 November 2016



I got tired, I told him. Not worn out, but worn through. Like one of those wives who wakes up one morning and says I can't bake any more bread.

You never bake bread, he wrote, and we were still joking.

Then it's like I woke up and baked bread, I said, and we were joking even then. I wondered will there come a time when we won't be joking? And what would it look like? And how would that feel?

When I was a girl, my life was music that was always getting louder. Everything moved me. A dog following a stranger. That made me feel so much. A calender that showed the wrong month. I could have cried over it. I did. Where the smoke from the chimney ended. How an overturned bottle rested at the edge of a table.
I spent my life learning to feel less.
Every day I felt less.
Is that growing old? Or is it something worse?
You cannot protect yourself from sadness without protecting yourself from happiness.

Jonathan Safran Foer

At lunch the other day, a group were discussing a prominent actress and a person said: “She’s only kind to her inferiors.” Whereupon Dorothy Parker remarked: “Where does she find them?”

Sidney Skolsky, in her gossip column in 1937

I think it's basically a renewed culture war we're seeing, here and in Europe and in North America. Here, the original one was won in the 1980s (with some lingering loose ends about gay rights settled with civil unions and gay marriage just recently). That culture war, Culture War I, was about freedom. (In pretentious academic lingo, it was "emancipatory".) 

The current culture war, Culture War II, isn't about enhancing freedom. It is oppressive and authoritarian. It criminalizes thought, speech and viewpoint diversity; it administers harsh punishments for trivialities and deviations; it doesn't increase rights -- it eliminates them.

Jeffrey Ketland 

My favorite story has Wodehouse doing the rounds of Magdalen College with Hugh Walpole, just weeks after the writer Hilaire Belloc called Wodehouse the “best writer of English now alive.”
“He said to me,” Wodehouse remembered, “‘Did you see what Belloc said about you?’ I said I had. ‘I wonder why he said that.’ ‘I wonder’, I said. Long silence. ‘I can’t imagine why he said that,’ said Hugh. I said I couldn’t either. Another long silence. ‘It seems such an extraordinary thing to say!’ ‘Most extraordinary!’ Long silence again. ‘Ah, well,’ said Hugh, having apparently found the solution, ‘the old man’s getting very old.'”
Tom Shone

Newman, hearing that Trollope was thought to be in danger of death, wrote to him out of the blue (they didn’t know each other) to tell him how much pleasure his books had given him over many years. Trollope wrote back to say that that was the kind of letter that made him think that perhaps his life hadn’t been wholly wasted after all.


  1. Okay. You can do one quote per day from Dorothy Parker and never run out of funny snark.

    I'm not familiar with Safran Foer. What is that quote from, pls? It seems intriguing to me. For me, happiness and sorrow are very close together. Listening to certain pieces of music especially Beethoven, Mozart and Genesis (sorry) can get me wound up pretty darn well. Again I thank you for the quotes...

    “Talent hits a target no one else can hit; genius hits a target no one else can see.: A. Shopenhauer. For messrs wodehouse and walpole...

  2. As an undergraduate, I used to read a great many parodies. Two of the funniest I ever read were '"Summer at Blandings" as it would have been had it been written by Kafka' and '"The Castle" as it would have been had it been written by P.G. Wodehouse.' The latter began, ''What ho" said K.'