<= 2003.07.01

2003.07.23 =>

what we have wrought

Now the white-collar jobs are moving offshore. What are Americans even qualifed for these days? Oh right, focus groups.

How, in my survey of British books for the kiddies, could I have forgotten the great absurdist works of Norman Hunter, whose life spanned nearly the entire twentieth centiry? He wrote several story collections featuring the royal family of Incrediblania, all of which are sadly underdocumented on Amazon; about the only info I could find was this bizarre site from South Africa encouraging children to interpret the stories in an Islamic context.

1. Compile a list of the different types of Fortune Tellers, Witchdoctors etc. and the nature of their work.
2. Refer to the Holy QurÂ’aan and the Hadith and the Sirah for the Islamic viewpoint of Fortune Tellers, wizards etc.
3. Speak to your local Imam about this topic.

In any case, Hunter is best known for The Incredible Adventures of Professor Branestawm (first published 1933) and its sequels. It's hard to pick just one representative passage, but as a sample one might try "The Professor Sends An Invitation," in which the professor, being absent-minded and all, accidentally posts blotting-paper instead of a letter to his friend the Colonel, and subsequently is unable to decipher it:

"Well, well, well," said the Professor, shaking his head from side to side, and scattering his five pairs of spectacles all over the place as he walked into his house with the Colonel. "This is a mysterious business is this, this is it is, isn't it? I can understand your getting a letter by post and not being able to read it, because of it being written in fearfully bad writing, but then you would be sure to be able to read just a word here and there, so this isn't that. Then I can understand your getting a letter by post written in some strange sort of language you couldn't understand, because it might have come to you by mistake instead of going to the strange sort of person it was meant for. But this isn't that either, because I can read at least some of all strange sorts of language and I can't read any of this one except the full stops, and they may be commas when they're translated."

"Yes," said the Colonel, who'd thought all that out by himself but didn't like to say so in case it sounded like swank. "But this letter didn't come by post. It was just there when I woke up, and goodness knows why. It can't be a warning from a secret society who're going to do something nasty to me, because they wouldn't send a warning I couldn't read."

"Perhaps they did though," said the Professor, brightening up. "Perhaps they wrote the warning in words that don't exist just to make it harder so that you couldn't read them and couldn't do what they're warning you to do so they'd be sure to be able to do something nasty to you. Secret sort of societies like doing nasty things to people, I believe."

"Oo-er," thought the Colonel, but he was far too military to say it. The inside of him began to feel rather funny, as if he'd eaten too much plum pudding, or not enough porridge, or the wrong sort of mushrooms.

Just then came a loud tap at the door. The Colonel grasped the Professor's hand with one hand and the poker with the other. If this was the secret sort of society come to do something nasty to him he would at least show them the sort of stuff the Catapult Cavaliers were made of. Not that he knew exactly what they were made of, though the Professor most certainly did. But what did that matter when secret societies were at the door?

Tap, tap, tap.

"C-c-c-c-c-come i-i-i-i-n-n-n," stammered the Professor, feeling all nervous, not because he thought it was the secret society, but because he thought the Colonel had gone a bit silly and was going to hit him with the poker.

According to Penguin, in later years Norman Hunter became obsessed with putting on operas in a scale model of the Drury Lane Theatre.


<= 2003.07.01

2003.07.23 =>

up (2003.07)