It is that time of year - almost fall, with an edge to the wind, a smell in the air, a gilding of yellow showing through the the foliage.... Autumn, the time of adventure, the time when I feel that I must take to the hills, fight trolls, slay dragons, bring home pots of gold to donate anonymously to good causes. I love autumn, but it makes me hugely restless.
So I attempt to placate this restlessness by walks, in which I collect feathers, and bits of glass, and pretty rocks. Sometimes, I get all creative and draw things:
|Le Steller's Jay Feather|
Sometimes, I get all introspective, and attempt poetry. Mostly, I have not been having much luck with that, though occasionally, I manage to finish something before the wind sends wanderlust rushing through my veins, and I decided that all is straw:
When they, ravening, gather round me
With keen-edged words that cut me sore;
When I, in anger, and alone,
Hold the the heart they broke in two -
May I remember Calvary:
The wounds and words which once Thou bore;
Forgive - as Thou, Who died alone -
Those, who know not what they do.
Mostly, through, I just read. Sometimes, I even find a book that makes me so happy, that for a time I forget all about going adventuring, and just enjoy my book,
The Moving Toyshop is one such book - and idiotic, farcical romp of a mystery. The detective: one Gervase Fen, an Oxford don, who exclaims, "Oh, my fur and whiskers!" when he is deeply stirred. Who freely, and without warning quotes from various works of literature and the Classics, Who drives at breakneck speed, a horrific vehicle, which he calls Lily Christine III. He is slightly mad, hugely well-read, impulsive, and totally unconcerned about the opinions of the world at large.
The book itself just bowls along from one ridiculous situation to another. It is a very light work, but it contains a huge amount of literary illusion in it. I don't always get the references, but when I do, I snicker, for they are generally very witty. Even if one is not well-read enough to catch all the illusions, there is plenty of humour to be found. Take, for example, this scene, in which our intrepid investigator, hot on the trail of a Person of Interest, has crashed a choir practice, and is attempting to blend in:
Fen's voice, though penetrating, was neither tuneful nor accurate.
"We STAAAAY not," he came in suddenly, "but WAAAANDER." Several of the basses in the front turned round as if someone had struck them in the back. "We grief-laden," Fen pursued unconcernedly, "grieee-EEEF-laden mortals!"
Or this scene, in which Fen felt the need of an alias, whilst laying low at a public house, close to Oxford, and filled to the gills with literary folk, and is summon the the phone my a porter:
“Telephone call for Mr. T. S. Eliot!” he piped. “Mr. T. S. Eliot?”
To everyone’s surprise, Fen said “That’s me,” got up, and went out, pursued by the interested gaze of the other persons in the bar
Or the mad chase scene towards the end, where everyone even remotely connected with the case, joins in pursuit of a suspect - a pursuit on foot, as they have all be drinking rather freely, and the suspect was the only person to come equipped with a wheeled conveyance:
In any event, just as Fen was wasting his breath in chanting (rather inappropriately) "but with unhurried chase and unperturbed pace, deliberate speed, majestic instancy..." he ran down the lane that leads to Parson's Pleasure, abandoned his bicycle, flung sixpence and the gate-keeper and disappeared inside.
There is even a passing reference during that chase, of the throng passing The Bird and Baby - a reference that made me wildly delighted. The Bird and the Baby is a public house, properly named The Eagle and Child, which was the gathering spot of the Inklings, back in the day. The Moving Toyshop was published in the 40s, which was when Tolkien was labouring over his first drafts of The Lotd of the Rings (Strider was still a hobbit named Trotters at the time.) In my mind, Tolkien and the Lewises were forgathered in the pub while Fen and his cohorts rushed past, but were so busy making the sort of scenes that they always made in public, that they did not notice the ruckus going on outside.
The Moving Toyshop is probably one of the most satisfactory things I have had the pleasure of reading in a long time. I would heartily recommend it to anyone who is in need of a good laugh, and a darned good read
And on that note, I sink back into the ether. Good night, all!