22 July 2010

from The Last Battle, chapter 11, The pace quickens (C.S. Lewis)

Feeling terribly alone, Jill ran out about twenty feet, put her right leg back and her left leg forward, and set an arrow to her string. She wished her hands were not shaking so. 'That's a rotten shot!' she said as her first arrow sped towards the enemy and flew over their heads. But she had another on the string next moment; she knew that speed was what mattered.

from Gaudy Night, chapter 8 (Dorothy L. Sayers)

'Hell!' said a voice which set her heart beating by its unexpected familiarity, 'have I hurt you? Me all over - bargin' and bumpin' about like a bumble-bee in a bottle. Clumsy lout! I say, do say I haven't hurt you. Because, if I have, I'll run straight across and drown myself in Mercury.'

He extended the arm that was not supporting Harriet in a vague gesture towards the pond.

'Not in the least, thank you,' said Harriet, recovering herself.

'Thank God for that. This is my unlucky day. I've just had a most unpleasant interview with the Junior Censor. Was there anything breakable in the parcels? Oh, look! your bag's opened itself wide and all the little oojahs have gone down the steps. Please don't move. You stand there, thinkin' up things to call me, and I'll pick 'em all up one by one on my knees sayin' "meā culpā" to every one of 'em.'

He suited the action to the words.

'I'm afraid it hasn't improved the meringues.' He looked up apologetically. 'But if you'll say you forgive me, we'll go and get some new ones from the kitchen - the real kind - you know - speciality of the House, and all that.'

'Please don't bother,' said Harriet.

It wasn't he, of course. This was a lad of twenty-one or two at the most, with a mop of wavy hair tumbling over his forehead and a handsome, petulant face, full of charm, though ominously weak about the curved lips and upward-slanting brows. But the colour of the hair was right - the pale yellow of ripe barley; and the light drawling voice, with its clipped syllables and ready babble of speech; and the quick, sidelong smile; and above all, the beautiful, sensitive hands that were gathering the 'oojahs' deftly up into their native bag.

'You haven't called me any names yet,' said the young man.

'I believe I could almost put a name to you,' said Harriet. 'Isn't it - are you any relation of Peter Wimsey's?'

14 July 2010

Anonymous quatrain of uncertain origin

In Heaven there'll be no algebra,
No learning dates or names,
But only playing golden harps
And reading Henry James.

from The French Lieutenant's Woman (John Fowles)

He had thought by his brief gesture and assurance to take the first step towards putting out the fire the doctor had told him he had lit; but when one is oneself the fuel, firefighting is a hopeless task.


He was invited to use the Athenaeum, he had shaken hands with a senator, no less; and with the wrinkled claw of one even greater, if less hectoringly loquacious - old Nathaniel Lodge, who had heard the cannon on Bunker Hill from his nurse's room in Beacon Street. An even greater still, whom one might have not very interestedly chatted to if one had chanced to gain entry to the Lowell circle in Cambridge, and who was himself on the early threshold of a decision precisely the opposite in its motives and predispositions, a ship, as it were, straining at its moorings in a contrary current and arming for its sinuous and loxodromic voyage to the richer though silted harbour of Rye (but I must not ape the master), Charles did not meet.


Once, as he made his way to the Athenaeum across the Common, he saw a girl ahead of him on an oblique path. He strode across the grass, he was so sure. But she was not Sarah. And he had to stammer an apology. He went on his way shaken, so intense in those few moments had been his excitement. The next day he advertised in a Boston newspaper. Wherever he went after that he advertised.

08 July 2010

from Little Grey Rabbit's Party (Alison Uttley)

Hare put his flute in its case and Squirrel and Grey Rabbit tidied away the crumbs from the feast. Then upstairs they all went to bed, yawning sleepily.

Little Grey Rabbit opened her attic window and held her blue beads up in the moonlight so that they shone like blue flames.

‘Although I did lose my dear thimble, it was a most beautiful party,’ she whispered.

from the production diaries for Sense and Sensibility (Emma Thompson)

Jane reminds us that God is in his heaven, the monarch on his throne and the pelvis firmly beneath the ribcage. Apparently rock and roll liberated the pelvis and it hasn't been the same since.

Hugh Grant arrives tomorrow but I've nicked the prettiest room. Very low ceiling, so can't do Reebok stepping without knocking myself out.

Roast beef and a square of chocolate for lunch. Very yang.

Ang's taken to requesting what he calls 'smirks.' 'Endearing smirk, please' - which I find pretty tricky. 'Try rigorous smirk' - even trickier.

It's Hugh's close-up. After several takes, Ang said to Hugh, 'Now do it like a bad actor.' Hugh: 'That was the one I just did.'

Very bolshie 'period' sheep with horns and perms and too much wool. If they fall over, they can't get up. Someone has to help them. Can't be right. Ang wants sheep in every exterior shot and dogs in every interior shot. I've suggested we have sheep in some of the interiors as well.

Ang, after a particularly trying time with our flock (very quiet): 'No more sheeps. Never again sheeps.'

The party on Saturday was wild. Everyone fell on the opportunity to let go and was drunk before having drunk anything. Alan nearly killed me, whirling me about the place. Everyone was under the table by midnight except Greg, who was on the ceiling.

Good work today, though. Willoughby's entrance through the mist on a white horse. We all swoon. Ang laughed at us. 'This scene is ridiculous,' he said. 'It's a girl thing,' Lindsay and I replied. Really wet, though, that rain.

Gemma is magic. She looks so innocent and pure and then she opens her mouth and says something rude. She's got the dirtiest laught I've ever heard.

Gemma, after two hours' waiting: 'Oh, God, it's like childbirth. You go on and on and on and on and still nothing happens.'

Kate makes a bracelet. We're in our nighties, our plaits down our backs. Ang settles down for a snooze. The weather does worry him. Only one day left at this location. Hypnotic, Kate's hands knotting the threads.

We try to find an extra line for Margaret as she picks up Willoughby's gear in the rain. Lindsay suggests, 'I'll get the stuff,' which makes me laugh immoderately. I counter with Willoughby saying, 'Pray get the stuff.' 'It's in the book!' we keep screaming.

I appear to have accumulated more things. How does this happen? I haven't shopped. Think my bath oils have bred.

Kate did her breakdown scene wonderfully well. In nearly all the weepy scenes I've tried to get one good joke. Less indulgent.

Noon. Finish scene with Alan.
Me: 'Oh! I've just ovulated.'
Alan (long pause): 'Thank you for that.'

04 July 2010

Calendae Maiae (George Buchanan, trans. Philip Ford)

salvete sacris deliciis sacrae
Maiae Calendae, laetitiae et mero
ludisque dicatae iocisque
et teneris Charitum choreis.

salve voluptas et nitidum decus
anni recurrens perpetua vice
et flos renascentis iuventae
in senium properantis aevi.

cum blanda veris temperies novo
illuxit orbi, primaque saecula
fulsere flaventi metallo
sponte sua sine lege iusta,

talis per omnes continuus tenor
annos tepenti rura Favonio
mulcebat et nullis feraces
seminibus recreabat agros.

talis beatis incubat insulis
felicis aurae perpetuus tepor
et nesciis campis senectae
difficilis querulique morbi.

talis silentum per tacitum nemus
levi susurrat murmure spiritus,
Lethenque iuxta obliviosam
funereas agitat cupressos.

forsan supremis cum Deus ignibus
piabit orbem, laetaque saecula
mundo reducet, talis aura
aethereos animos fovebit.

salve fugacis gloria saeculi,
salve secunda digna dies nota,
salve vetustae vitae imago
et specimen venientis aevi.

Hail, May Day, sacred to sacred delights, dedicated to joy and wine, games, jesting, and the delicate dances of the Graces. Hail pleasure, and bright glory of the year returning in an eternal cycle, and bloom of reviving youth, hastening towards time’s old age. When spring’s pleasant warmth shone upon a new world, and the first generations gleamed with golden metal, naturally righteous without any laws, an uninterrupted course like this through all the years caressed the countryside with a warm West Wind, and renewed the fertile fields without seeds. Such is the endless warmth from delightful breezes which lies over the Isles of the Blessed, and over the fields which know not crabbed old age or complaining disease. Such a breath murmurs in a gentle whisper through the quiet grove of the Silent ones, and stirs the deathly cypress trees beside Lethe, river of forgetfulness. Perhaps when God purifies the world in the final conflagration and brings back happy ages to the universe, such a breeze will refresh the heavenly spirits. Hail, glory of a fleeting age, hail, day worthy of a favourable mark, hail, picture of a former life, and token of an age to come.