Pg. 17, #2

“You would scarcely expect me, constable,” I said coldly, “to absent myself from the farewell supper of a childhood friend who is leaving for Hollywood in a day or two and may be away from civilisation for years. Catsmeat would have been pained to his foundations if I had oiled out. And it wasn’t three in the morning, it was two-thirty.”

*

At close range, Colonel Margrave’s breath was a solid essence of whisky, but Branch didn’t reprimand him. If you had a good officer left, you didn’t reprimand him, no matter what he did. Also, Branch approved of whisky. It was a good release, under the circumstances. Probably better than his own, he thought, glancing at his scarred knuckles.

*

He got into a taxi and gave the address, and the driver was so slow starting the meter that the man repeated the address. The driver nodded, showing half his face. The man looked at the face and at the driver’s picture. They didn’t look much alike, but they never did. He supposed this was a reputable taxi company that operated the taxicabs at the station. Oh well, that wasn’t important.

*

The director’s record in this respect may well have attracted Columbia to the project of Anatomy of a Murder, since it was the only studio never to register with the PCA, Preminger, moreover, had a reputation for bringing in films under budget.

*

In this manner they marched for at least two hours, when at last the sacristan found himself on the borders of Blackheath. One of his lady companions then said to him, ‘We are going to a very pleasant party tonight a little way farther on. I wish you would accompany us; I am sure you would be well received, and you would have an opportunity of immensely improving the minds of the company.’

*

He took the receipt from the man holding it, translated it aloud for my benefit, word for word. It wasn’t one of those shorthand things you get up North. It was written out in great detail; it was a young book. It was in flowery Spanish. When I’d seen him composing it back there where I’d bought it, I’d thought that was the custom down there, to write out a complete description of each purchase, practically give its life history.

*

But today, there were no obsequies to observe at all.

*

Seven page seventeens from seven different volumes selected from around my bed.

The selections this week are from Jeeves and the Feudal Spirit, by P.G. Wodehouse; The Metal Smile, a sci-fi anthology edited by Damon Knight, the story is Fool’s Mate by Robert Sheckley; Butterfield 8, by John O’Hara; The Cinema Book, edited by Pam Cook; The Oxford Book of English Short Stories, edited by A.S. Byatt, the story is The Sacristan of St Botolph by William Gilbert (father of the one from Gilbert & Sullivan); The Black Path of Fear by Cornell Woolrich; Valmouth, by Ronald Firbank.

They cohere nicely, I think. A bit of a booze theme, even though the passage from O’Hara’s very boozy book doesn’t mention the stuff.

5 Responses to “Pg. 17, #2”

  1. ehrenstein47 Says:

    Anti-Feminist Camille Paglia is a huge fan of Elizabeth Taylor in “Butterfield 8”

    Are you familiar with Sandy Wilson’s musical version of “Valmouth” ? Cleo Laine starred in the original production.

  2. I haven’t stumbled upon the Wilson, no, but it does get a mention in the book’s intro, I think. The same author’s ‘The Nigger of the Narcissus’ is less likely to see adaptation of any kind, I fear.

  3. ehrenstein47 Says:

    “Prancing Nigger” was the title Dinge Queen Carl Van Vechten gave to Firbank’s “Sorrow in Sunlight” The title you mention is by everybody’s favorite Polish Joke, Joseph Conrad

  4. From my vanity eBook:

    “Herr Barbar, unconvinced, leaned forward in his wheelchair. The intensity of his eyes and the Mephistophelean cut of his beard added ominous weight to his words. The stern and silent nurse standing a few feet behind him looked like a bird of prey, ever surveying the faces avoiding her gaze.”

    Yes, this character is a Fritz Lang homage, or swipe. And yes, most of the book settles at this level.

  5. A nice level at which to settle!

    Ulp, yes, confusing my Conrad and my Firbank, tsk.

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