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Greetings, my fellow port swillers!

Sorry for the lack of posting this week.  Ol’ Robbo has been somewhat becalmed, creatively-speaking, no doubt due to dog days of summah fatigue.  It happens.  So here are just a few things:

♦   Pulling into my garage at work this morning, I overheard one of the guards opining to another that “we ought to have free health care and college here like they do over in Europe.” I wanted to leap out, grab the man by the neck and shake him violently.   The pure ignorance of this sentiment becomes more and more critically important the closer the progressivistas push us to Euro-socialism.  Let me repeat then (although I know all of you know this already) a fundamental fact of reality:  Where goods and services are provided, there is no such thing as “free”.  Ever. Period.  Somebody has got to pay for it, otherwise it won’t be produced.  Argh!

UPDATE: And that somebody in the world of rainbows and unicorns, of course, is teh gub’mint.  Allow me to quote Peej O’Rourke’s description from “All The Trouble In The World” of Milton and Rose Friedman’s identification of teh four ways money is spent:

1.  You spend your own money on yourself.  You’re motivated to get the thin you want at the best price.  This is the way middle-aged men haggle with Porsche dealers.

2.  You spend your money on other people.  You still want a bargain, but you’re less interested in pleasing the recipient of your largesse.  This is why children get underwear at Christmas.

3.  You spend other people’s money on yourself.  You get what you want but price no longer matters.  The second wives who ride around with the middle-aged men in the Porsches do this kind of spending at Neiman Marcus.

4.  You spend other people’s money on other people.  And in this case, who gives a shite?

Most gub’mint spending falls in category four.

How does one convey this to the Free Shite Army?  No idea – send ’em to Venezuela for a while, I guess.

♦   I continue to enjoy the phenomenon of Teh Donald, but I am amazed at some of the reactions his advent has caused on the Right among people I never would have thought would shill for the Establishment.  I am particularly puzzled by those who scold that we shouldn’t be “duped” by his hucksterism.   Well, I dunno about anyone else, but this certainly isn’t the case with me.  I know perfectly well exactly how awful he is.  The only reason I am even considering voting for him is nicely summed up in a bumper sticker proposal I read somewhere (slightly sanitized here because family blog): “Trump ’16:  Because Screw You, GOP! That’s Why!”

UPDATE:  Again, I am no “Trumpkin” as his supporters are sneeringly called by some.  I’m not like that woman at the Mobile rally photographed looking like she was meeting Elvis-come-back-to-life.  In fact, my order of preference is probably Jindal, Cruz, Walker.  However, Jindal doesn’t have the national mojo and Walker has been disappointingly quiet.  OTOH, I think Cruz and Trump have some kind of understanding, which could prove very interesting, indeed.  But this is the first election I can see myself voting specifically against something, and that is the corporatist, amnesty-pushing, get-along-go-along RINO squishfest known as the Republican Party.  I’ll simply sit on my hands and watch it all burn before being sold out by them again.

♦   Middle Gel is off with some of her friends to see a Mystics basketball game this evening.  Frankly, I had forgotten they even exist.  How much money does the WNBA actually pull in?  (Oh, and they’re all (the Gel and her friends, not the Mystics) coming back to Port Swiller Manor for a sleepover afterwards.  Groan….) UPDATE: The gels sat courtside and had a good time.  MG tells me the crowd wasn’t all that big, which doesn’t surprise me because the whole WNBA thing has always had a sort of Title IX flavor to it.  I wisely slept in the basement, as Daisy kept barking all night at the noise the gels were making in MG’s room.

♦   Meanwhile, my beloved Nats seemed to be playing with more verve and passion this week, having briefly got back up to full strength, but a new round of injuries is giving me moar ulcers.  The Mets have got to choke sooner or later, haven’t they? Haven’t they?  UPDATE: Whelp, the Mets did lose last night, but so did we.  This is what happens when you load the bases with nobody out and can’t capitalize.

♦   The nice weather round here this week has allowed ol’ Robbo to go back to his lunchtime walkies.  I like to do a loop around the Mall that adds up to about three miles and change, and stick with it at any temperature up to about the mid 80’s.  (I take a particular perverse delight in making my circuit in cold, wet, nasty weather, but I think that’s just my Inner Scot coming through.)  Today I was watching a number of birds feeding out on the grass as I marched by when I suddenly remembered a character out of a book (“Bored of the Rings” possibly?) who amused himself by arranging breadcrumbs in order to get flocks of pigeons to spell out rude words.  I find it makes folks a bit nervous if you’re walking along and suddenly start snickering to yourself.

♦  Finally, speaking of weather, it would be nice if TS Erika (or whatever it is) came on up the East Coast because we could use some of that sweet, sweet rain.  We got a fair amount over the first half of the summah, but it has been pretty dry since mid-July.  I put this down to the fact that we finally got a landscaper to put in some extra drains and retainer walls to deal with the flooding problem we’ve had for years here.  (Port Swiller Manor sits on a hillside and all the runoff was coming straight down the driveway and ponding against the garage and front of the house.  Flooded the basement out a couple years ago.)  Rain stopped almost the exact day they started work.  As an old comic strip I used to love put it, “They’ll do it every time.”  One of the catch-phrases from the strip, “The Urge to Kill”, is still in the family lexicon.  UPDATE: Well, so much for that.

Since I’m still in the fiddling-around stage with my new iPhone, here’s a snap of some of the new anti-flood measures:

Drive

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Greetings, my fellow port swillers!

Although ol’ Robbo, having taken care of this past week’s necessary Saturday morning yard work ’round Port Swiller Manor quickly and efficiently, looked forward to a very delightfully (and unusually) cool,  late-August afternoon in the hammock with a glass full of ice and a Flashman story, instead I found myself dragooned by teh Eldest Gel into going bowling with her.

Apparently, I don’t bond with said EG enough, DAD! And I need to take advantages of these invitations, DAD! Before she goes off to college next year, DAD! Because if I refuse she will come away with no other thoughts about me except my coldness and how to deep-six me in a retirement home for the minimal cost to herself, DAD!

To which my reply has always been, in so many words, “Shut up.”

Nonetheless, I went.

Pricking my memory very hard, I cannot recall than I have bowled since high school.  Back then, not only did I go down to the lanes with my friends on Saturday afternoons fairly regularly, I actually once took a semester course in the game in order to avoid the Lord of the Flies locker room of my school’s gym.  As I recall, at my peak I was bowling somewhere in the 200 range.

The Gel didn’t know any of this history.  Thus, when I stepped up to my very first frame and bowled a perfect strike, she was, shall we say, perturbed.

Heh.  Almost made the whole thing worth it.

Of course, although I got a subsequent smattering of strikes and spares,  I couldn’t keep it up.  My hands have since become arthritic.  I wrenched something in my rights forearm kaiaking on vacation a couple weeks ago.  Because I don’t dance, my pelvic muscles aren’t used to the stretches and strains of the proper bowling delivery.  And don’t ask about my rowing-blown knees.  By the third game, I was well over my pitch-count limit and was tossing nothing but junk.  And for the last couple days, I’ve been hobbling.

Nonetheless, I can report that I beat teh Gel, two games out of three, despite the fact that she was using the gutter rails.  Of course, some of this might have had to do with the fact that her own delivery is something closer to a baseball submarine pitch than to an orthodox bowl.  So there’s that.

I will say also that bowling alleys ain’t what they were back in my day, at least some of them.  This one was one of those jazzed up kinds with lots of black-light, laser lighting, thumping “music”, automatic scoring, and big screen teevees featuring ESPN and teh kiddy channelz.  As the Gel warned, watching SpongeBob and listening to Katy Perry at the same time is a most, um, disturbing thing.

No, as I sat through all the noise, I couldn’t help thinking of teh Good Old Days:

Heh.  Even now I still use “Buh-dee” on a regular basis.

Teh Younger Gels were away this week, visiting their cousins up in Bah-ston.  Upon their return, they heard all about what I was up to with EG.  Guess what they want to do next weekend.

Not sure I’ll be healed in time for it.

 

 

 

"Semper vigilo"

“Semper vigilo”

Greetings, my fellow port swillers!

Ol’ Robbo has discovered that the more comfortable Daisy the Port Swiller Dog has grown with her surroundings, the more possessive of them she also has become, to the extent that she starts barking her fool head off every time she imagines she hears or sees something violating the Port Swiller Manor perimeter.  I expect the neighbors are all heartily sick of it by now.  Certainly it gets on our nerves at times.

Back in the days of my misspent yoot, we had a Scottie who used to do the same thing, much to our annoyance.  When you told him to shut up, he’d offer to bite you.  If you moved in on him threateningly, more often than not he did bite you.  Indeed, one of my books of Haydn piano sonatas still bears his teeth marks from when I tried to swat him with it for making so much noise while I was trying to practice.

Daisy is a bit different.  When you tell her to shut up, she simply feigns incomprehension.  (Oh, there’s feigning going on there, alright.  No doubt about it.)  If you move on her, she collapses into an invertebrate jelly and makes you feel like a cad.

Just like Jonah Goldberg’s Cosmo the Wonderdog had his Jacobin squirrels to deal with, Daisy is obsessed with a Progressivist groundhog who has a burrow in the raspberry bushes in front of the garden.   She spend hours on the porch surveying the back yard and hoping to spot him in his comings and goings, again going into hysterics whenever she spots him.  And every time we let her out into the yard for a potty break, she makes a bee-line for the burrow in order to check it out.  She then goes to the spot in the fence where said groundhog is accustomed to getting through.  (I did not realize before that groundhogs possess the same superpower as cats, in that they can make themselves two-dimensional for purposes of slipping through cracks.  Fortunately, dogs do not possess this power.)

Amidst all the hubbub, I simply try to remind myself that dogs are gonna dog.

Greetings, my fellow port swillers!

Ol’ Robbo’s annual office picnic is scheduled for this Wednesday.  (This year, the crew got t-shirts which, I gather, everyone is expected to wear.  I made a comment this afternoon about mandatory happy-fun clothing that didn’t go over so well with the supervisor who was handing the things out.)

As regular friends of the decanter might know, Robbo hates such forced camaraderie events (no, my office mates are not my “family”) and, in his nearly twenty-five years of legal practice, has worked very hard to avoid them whenever he can, employing a variety of pretexts legitimate regrets involving illnesses, biznay travel and various domestic crises in order to absence himself from said bean-feasts.

This year I find myself cackling with glee because I can duck the festivities (and avoid the t-shirt) on the perfectly legitimate premise that I need to get a very important document drawn up this week and simply cannot afford the time for such frivolities.  Mr. Robbo regrets, Madam….

Hard cheese, I know, but the mission before all else, amirite?

Bwa-hahahahahaha!!!!!

 

N.C. Wyeth illustration for Westward Ho!

N.C. Wyeth illustration for Westward Ho!

Greetings, my fellow port swillers!

Many, many years ago, ol’ Robbo picked up the collected works of Charles Kingsley at a library sale somewhere in (if I’m not mistaken) the Hamptons.  At the time, I knew he was a Victorian writer of schoolboy adventure stories, but not much more.  However, since the books were very cheap, I bought them anyway with the intention of eventually getting around to reading them.

Whelp, 20-odd years later, prompted by a reference I’ve seen repeatedly somewhere else,*  I finally cracked the cover of what may well be Kingsley’s most remembered novel, Westward Ho!

Good God, Almighty.

The book is a massive, sprawling story of the loyal sons of Devon and Cornwall during the glory days of Good Queen Bess who, under the leadership of such stout figgahs as Francis Drake and Walter Raleigh, repeatedly biff the Dons along the Spanish Main and in Ireland while, at the same time, foiling the plots of nefarious Jesuits prowling around Merry Old England like the Hosts of Midian, trying to topple the Golden Age of Elizabeth and bring said enlightened paradise back under the foul claw of teh Whore of Babylon, sometimes referred to as the Pope in Rome.   In this, Kingsley drifts mighty close to outright libel.  For example, so far as I know, there is absolutely no credible evidence that St. Edmund Campion was in any way involved in any plot to dethrone Elizabeth, but Kingsley does not seem to concern himself with actual facts in pursuit of his theme.

If you’re sensing my bias here, you’re not wrong.  The book was published in the early 1850’s** and here and there Kingsley breaks out of the past tense to take jabs at those then-current Papists who wished for the reconversion of Britain to Holy Mother Church.   As I remarked to the Mothe this past Sunday in our weekly telephone chat, it sounded to me like Kingsley was taking a whack at the Oxford Movement.  And damme if I wasn’t right.  Upon a bit of further research, I found that Kingsley, who was himself an Anglican clergyman, was virulently anti-Catholic and got into a printed dispute with the Blessed John Henry, Cardinal Newman, in which the former accused the latter of being a liar and a fraud.  It was as a result of this spat that Newman penned his Apologia Pro Vita Sua.

Since several of ol’ Robbo’s guiding figgahs for his own swim across the Tiber came from the Oxford Movement (including not only Cardinal Newman but also Msgr. Robert Hugh Benson and Msgr. Ronald Knox), you can understand why I might be a wee bit touchy about this.  I wonder what I would have thought about it when I first bought the books twenty-odd years ago.

Anyhoo, despite all these defects, Westward Ho! is a right ripping yarn in parts, with some terrific descriptive imagery and an action-packed plot.  Also, I’ve got little problem with his bashing of the Dons over their treatment of their New World conquests, which amounted to not much more than rape in the classical meaning of stealing anything and everything that wasn’t positively nailed down.

Besides, I’m almost 400 pages into it and am not going to quit now.  So, there.

 

* I simply can’t remember where, now.  However, I also know that Evelyn Waugh, himself a Catholic convert, has his title character in The Ordeal of Gilbert Pinfold attempt to slog through Westward Ho! in order to drown out the possibly psychotic voices in his head.  Heh.

** Of interest, the book was dedicated to the “White Rajah” Sir James Brooke, for no other reason than that Kingsley thought Brooke a hell of a fellah.  George MacDonald Fraser sharks will, of course, recall Brooke from Flashman’s Lady.

See? Hang around long enough and it all ties together…..

Daisy At Her Post

Daisy At Her Post

Greetings, my fellow port swillers!

Ol’ Robbo finds himself overwhelmed by the number of inquiries from friends of the decanter about the status of Daisy, the Port Swiller Manor canem of which all villains should cave.

Whelp, I’ll tell you this:  We’ve had the old girl for about three months now.  She’s a sweetie.  She’s loyal and protective.  Ut-bay, e-shay’s ot-nay oo-tay ight-bray, if you get my drift.  At least, I think she isn’t.

For one thing, teh dog is obsessed with the Jacobin Groundhog Menace.  Said groundhogs had a burrow in front of teh garden gate when Daisy arrived on the scene and we had a bit of a kerfluffle blocking off exit points around the perimeter fence to keep her from chasing them out of the yard.  Eventually this was done and I’m sure the groundhogs have long since shifted their base of operations, but Daisy is still convinced they haven’t abandoned their original post.  Every time we let her out, she makes a bee-line for the spot, and when she’s out on the porch she spend all her time watching it (which see).  Indeed, recently she’s taken to stalking the hole and to spending considerable time parked in front of it…..just in case.

Daft animal.

Another thing is her attitude to doors.  If a door (specifically, the one out on to the porch) is open by so much as a crack, teh kittehs will pull or push on it in order to get through.  Indeed, if it’s closed, they’ll hurl themselves against it until somebody comes along to let them through.  Not so, Daisy.  Unless the door is open sufficiently wide to let her pass through completely unhindered, she’ll sit and stare at it in consternation.

Daft, daft animal.

The other thing is her evident fondness for a tennis ball with a squeaker in it (again, which see).  We’ve taken to calling said ball her “binky” and she hates, hates to be parted from it.

As I say, I think she’s not that bright, but I’m not completely convinced.  When confronted with Alpha-male authori-tah, teh dog has a passive-passive-aggressive approach that would cause Alexander to start pulling his hair out in frustration.  Trying to discipline her is equivalent to trying to discipline Jello, and about as effective.  This may just be what it is, but part of me can’t help thinking it’s by design.

Were Daisy a cat, I’d have no doubt whatsoever that I was being pawned.  It’s only the fact that she’s a dog which gives me doubt.

Anyhoo, that’s where we are.

Greetings, my fellow port swillers!

As regular friends of the decanter know, ol’ Robbo hit his half-century on this earth earlier this year.  Thus, I wasn’t altogether surprised when this memento mori turned up in the mail today:

memento

At first glance, I merely shook my head and sighed.  However, taking a closer look, I discovered something:  The membership was actually made out in Mrs. Robbo’s name.  I immediately started to laugh.

Why?  Because Mrs. R is actually about five and a half years younger than I am.  In the state of glee I usually reserve for telling her I’ve been carded yet again, I hastened to bring this discovery to her attention.

Mrs. Robbo was not quite so amused as I was.

However, as it happens, Port Swiller Manor is full of electricians, painters and handymen doing a variety of unforeseen maintenance and repair projects today.  (Ah, the manifest joys of home ownership!)  After stewing for a moment, Mrs. R visibly softened and said, “Hmm…I wonder if I could start using their discounts.”

Greetings, my fellow port swillers!

Last evening found ol’ Robbo attending a concert of the Piano Guys over at Wolf Trap, in company with Mrs. R and the Middle Gel, who is a certified hyper-fan of the group.  Because the gel is such a nut, we splurged to let her sit right down in the pit about three rows back from the stage.  Meanwhile, Mrs. R and I found ourselves a spot out on the lawn and, amidst intermittent showers and drizzle, hunkered down to wait out the gel’s little self-indulgence.

This lawn-seating biznay is rayther interesting.  Over the years, I don’t think I’ve done it more than five or six times, but you can easily spot the regulars by all their paraphernalia – blankets, coolers, wet-weather gear, folding seats and so-forth.  What I like about it is that, if you find the time weighing a bit heavy on your hands during the performance, you can simply wander off and buy yourself a glass of wine.  (Ask the Beautiful People down in the amphitheater if they can do that! I don’t think so!)

The last time we were there was to see Huey Lewis a few years ago.  We found ourselves seated immediately in front of a bunch of very drunk college kids who kept cat-calling all evening.  I reckoned that the crown for the Piano Guys would be somewhat different, and for the most part they were:  Lots of younger kids (which was great), families and older couples.  I didn’t see a single member of the rowdier element in attendance.

Nonetheless, there was a couple behind us who were probably in their late 30’s or early 40’s.  They had the complete lawn encampment going, right down to china plates, silverware, real wine glasses and corkscrew.  Throughout the entire performance, though, they never stopped talking.  Two more candidates for teh Special Hell, I found myself thinking.

The funniest thing to happen was that as I sat there I suddenly noticed a woman a few spaces over who looked exactly like the gal I’d grown up across the street from back in the San Antonio of my misspent yoot.  I hadn’t seen or spoken to her since leaving high school over 30 years ago, although I’d had a vague report that she lived somewhere in our neck of the woods.

When I mentioned all this to Mrs. R, she said, “Well, why don’t you go over and talk to her?”

“What?” I replied in horror.  “I couldn’t! If I turned out to be wrong, she’d think I was some kind of psychopath and I’d have no choice but to take my own life in shame!”

“What stuff,” Mrs. R said, and went over to find out for herself.  Turns out I had been right after all and that this was my old neighbor.  We chatted with her and her husband for a couple minutes and then went back to our spot much gratified.

Small world, ain’t it.

Oh, as to the actual musick.  If you aren’t familiar with them, the Piano Guys’ (they’re actually a piano/cello duo) basic shtick is to take classical themes and interweave them with pop favorites, then doll it all up with a lot of fancy electronic effects and dramatic audio/visual presentation.  As I say, teh Gel is mad about them.  For myself, I will certainly acknowledge that they’re a hell of a lot better to listen to than some of the stuff that could have seized her imagination, and for that I am grateful.

One thing that struck me as amusing:  The cellist, in talking about their musickal influences, mentioned Victor Borge a couple of times.  Only he kept pronouncing the name “Borg” instead of “Borzha“.  I couldn’t help thinking that if ol’ Victor were still around, he could have incorporated this into his “Phonetic Punctuation” routine.  “You vill be azzimilated! Shwoop! POP!”

All in all, a good time was had by all.

 

Greetings, my fellow port swillers!

Regular friends of the decanter will know what a Luddite ol’ Robbo is as a general rule, so I warn you now that you may be in for a bit of a shock.  Yes, I now seem to own an iPhone.

You see, for years and years now, to the extent I have used a cell phone at all, I have relied on an old Motorola flip-phone.  Why? Because it was the one given to me when we first got cell service and I’ve never bothered to upgrade, largely because I avoid the phone whenever possible and it always seemed adequate for the few times I’ve been forced to use it.  (In fact, I still don’t even know my own cell number.)

But if you’ll scroll down a bit, you’ll see some pics I took on my recent trip out West.  There, I was using a work-issued iPhone and decided to try out the camera function.  I have to admit that I rayther enjoyed it, although I realized that with a work phone, I was very, very limited in the sorts of things I could photograph and transmit.

I mentioned this casually to Mrs. R this weekend and it proved to be all the encouragement she needed to go and raid the Apple store.   There, she got an upgrade for herself, and arranged for me to take her old iPhone as a hand-me-down.

Chillin'

Chillin’

So I’ve been fiddling with the thing off and on today.  All I really wanted above and beyond basic cell service was the ability to take pictures and post them.  And does it work?  Well, here is the scene from this evening (and, indeed, most early evenings here at Port Swiller Manor) that I took while playing with it a while ago:

I hope you like it, as I would like to make my own pics a more regular part of my blogging.  (But this is absolutely as far as I go, technologically speaking!)

By the bye, how on earth do these calling plans work?  From what Mrs. R tried to tell me, it sounded as if Verizon paid her to do this double-switch.  Either she’s pulling my leg, or there are some strange, strange metrics that go into the pricing.

 

 

Greetings, my fellow port swillers!

As I see from a quick dekko at sitemeter, it seems the demand for the return of Robbo from his summah hols has been astronomical.  Well, my friends, your wait is over, as I am most definitely back.

As I mentioned, the Family Robbo met up with the Former Llama Military Correspondent and his brood at a lakeside retreat this year.  More specifically, it was Lake Anna, nestled in the heart of the Great Commonwealth of Virginny and also sporting its own nuke plant a couple miles up the shore from us, the wastewater discharge from which kept our part of the lake at a temperature somewhere in the mid-80’s.  Indeed, splashing about in it was not unlike taking a bath and, frankly, wasn’t all that refreshing.

As a matter of fact, ol’ Robbo spent very little time actually swimming and much of his time kayaking.  I would roll out of bed earlyish in the morning and put in an hour and a half to two hours of industrious paddling about, then go for another round later in the afternoon.  It was most soothing.  As it happens, I have the kind of body that, with any kind of regular exercise, buffs up quite quickly, so I am also feeling quite fit at the moment, although my arms are still killing me.

In between bouts of rowing, I found time to get in a goodish bit of reading, too.  My list included the following:

sheed mapA Map of Life: A Simple Study of the Catholic Faith by Frank Sheed.  This book is not an argument but rayther, as its title implies, a simple statement of the Faith.  Here is what we believe.  Here is why we believe it.  Here is what we do and don’t do as a result of these beliefs.  Here are what we think are the consequences of following and not following them.  Easy, logical, lucid prose without all that heavy breathing you get from somebody like Scott Hahn.

fremont first impressionsFrémont’s First Impressions: The Original Report of His Exploring Expeditions of 1842-1844.  I picked this up because of my recent visit to Wyoming and views of the Oregon Trail  Fremont’s first expedition in 1842 was to map said Trail as far as South Pass.  I was delighted to recognize the area he describes in and around Ft. Laramie.   The second took him all the way to near what is now Portland, down across the Sierra Nevadas (in the dead of winter) into the Sacramento River valley, around the souther Sierras through Arizona and New Mexico, back up into Colorado and then hey for home.  The book is very well written and “The Pathfinder” obviously knew what he was about: exact scientific measurements and observations; good judgment of terrain; (mostly) careful travel with the occasional calculated risk; an instant grasp of the strategic importance of the Columbia River and San Francisco Bay to the rapidly expanding United States; and genuine curiosity about that area of the Intermountain West known as “The Great Basin”.  Unfortunately, for some reason this edition does not contain any of the maps, drawings or appendices attached to the original reports.  Also, it is fronted by a somewhat condescending introduction by some modern academic who is quick to point out what a racist/imperialist/white male aggressor Fremont was, and that, of course, we aren’t like that now.  Sheesh.

waugh battleThe End of the Battle by Evelyn Waugh.  I won’t say anything about it here.  Waugh is one of my very favorite authors and the Sword of Honor trilogy (of which this is the third book) is probably my very favorite Waugh.  I’ve read this book many, many times.  One question that occurs to me, though:  Why do references to J.H. Chase’s No Orchids for Miss Blandish keep popping up in Waugh’s novels?  It is usually found in officers’ messes, masters’ common rooms and elsewhere and I can’t help thinking that Mr. Wu is getting in a little dig for his own amusement although I don’t quite get the joke.

chricton pirate latitudesPirate Latitudes by Michael Crichton.  A swashbuckler set in the reign of Charles II featuring a dashing privateer taking a whack at the Dons in the Caribbean.  I’ve never read any Crichton before although I’ve heard of his good reputation.  Frankly, I don’t understand it, if this book is any example of his writing.  It might have made a good screenplay, but the prose and characters have a Tom Clancy-like cardboard quality about them.  Also, Crichton doesn’t seem to grasp some basics of nautical terminology.  He uses “ground” when he means “deck” and he persistently refers to ships (including a galleon) as “boats”.  He also describes a gunnery trick used by the hero to elude his pursuing enemies that is patently absurd.  (I also started out on Crichton’s Sphere but ran out of time and only got about a quarter of the way in – the book belonged to teh rental house.  Just as well, really, because the prose was as bad as in P.L and was beginning to irk me.

And why was I able to get so much reading done? Because the house turned out to be quite big and roomy enough for the ten of us not to suffer that ghastly feeling of being on top of each other all the time and I was quite able during the mid-day hours to snuggle into a corner relatively undisturbed, apart from some bouts of door-slamming and children running about that reminded me of something out of “Arsenic and Old Lace”.

All in all, a good week, leaving ol’ Robbo tanned, ready and rested.

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