Thursday, July 29, 2010

7/29 - O Frabjous Day - Calloo! Callay!

There isn't anything left over from Monday to mention. I could take a bit of pleasure in reporting that an American golfer doing quite well early on at the Senior British Open at Carnoustie (and won't Jean Van de Velde get many times more mileage from losing The Open there in 1999 in such spectacular fashion than he would have done from winning?) than he soon fell from contention in what must be viewed as an appropriate punishment for calling the Barrie Burn a "ditch". I get to do something unusual today. We all have our little guilty pleasures to some degree or other. Today, however, it appears I might actually have the opportunity to indulge in something on the enjoyable side without fear of excess. I almost feel like Rumpole when the last part of his Four-Horse Accumulator wins and he decides to tell Judge Bullingham off. We shall see.

Today we venture to Wonderland and through the looking-glass. I rather feel like starting with L4 today for some reason.

L4: LW4 reminds me a bit of the White Knight, who is always full of dodges, even if they never seem to accomplish very much. One might also wonder how the White Knight won his great victory over the Red Knight; perhaps he had superiour knowledge of the Rules of Battle. And yet, despite his tendency to overparse songs, their names and what they're called, the White Knight has a sort of charm about him. LW4 has perhaps a little bit of the same appeal - perhaps a trifle on the geeky side, but that's not always a bad thing, and many would find developed skills at bargain hunting to be a highly desirable quality.

As for the real-life situation of paying for a dinner out with a coupon, one parallel springs immediately to mind. In "Rumpole Rests His Case", when Rumpole is hospitalized, Hilda is taken out to dinner by an old acquaintance of Rumpole's. The result is that she orders Rumpole to make a complete recovery, not caring for anything about the evening out. The staff joked with her escort about his bringing another "girlfriend" there, the tablecloth wasn't clean, the passage to the lavatory was drafty, the selection of vegetables mingy, her escort paid with a coupon AND he added up the bill and asked for a reduction because they hadn't eaten the potatoes. A husband like that would quibble with his wife over the household accounts.

As to what LW4 should do, it seems largely a question of style. I'd establish what sort of woman he wants to attract and let that consideration be his guideline. For Barbara Bargainhunter, his being the sort to have the good sense to acquire certificates and coupons to be able to afford luxurious dining will be an attraction - all the more reason to be upfront about it in advance. On the other end, if he prefers Golda Digger, who appreciates her dinners in direct proportion to the supposed expense, then all the better to be as discreet as possible about it, and the relationship will chug merrily along as long as his supply of coupons holds out.

I'm not entirely sure about the Prudecutor trying to nix the idea for a first date. It seems thinking that's rather stuck back in the 1950's. Of course, perhaps that decade might have been (or seemed at first) a bit more to her taste.

Moral: "Now the cleverest thing of the sort that I ever did... was inventing a new pudding during the meat-course."

L1: There are not a great many parents available, but LW1 reminds me rather of the Duchess when Alice meets her first and her mood is still foul, determined to correct the poor baby for what she considers to be its faults.

LW1 did about one thing right. She had the grace to put smart first on her list of daughter's good points. Fun ought to have come before pretty, but at least that's one timy hint that LW1 is not completely overabsorbed in her daughter's appearance.

But that meagre hint is about the only thing in the plus column. One might just possibly cut a mother some slack for worrying that her daughter's eyebrows will likely lead to her slashing herself with a razor. Exactly why all this is bothering LW1 so much isn't particularly important. It could be that in her mind her daughter's appearance is all about her, or maybe some gypsy curse from the fourteenth century is being fulfilled one way or another. But it does not take Dionne Warwick and her army of Psychic Friends to see how this is affecting the 7-year-old. As sure as one egg costs fivepence farthing and two cost tuppence, the little girl is now or soon will be perfectly aware of how much her facial hair bothers Mumsy. If the daughter isn't upset about it now, she almost certainly will be soon, and it will likely be difficult to tell whether it's on her own account or because LW1 is so upset.

It is one thing for extraordinary corrective measures to be basically child-driven. But here the parent is firmly at the reins, and the result probably isn't going to be any too good.

And there is one person who might be considered to be of some importance who is conspicuously absent from the Prudecutor's response, most of the question, and almost all of the comments. Amazingly enough, LW1 is actually a married woman with a husband. Despite her apparent regret that she was unable to wed Stefan Edberg or Stephane Lambiel and have children with rather better luck in the gene lottery, she might even be intending to stay married. And yet, here she is consulting the Prudecutor without having gotten any sort of opinion from her husband. And considering that he's the one who shares his daughter's problem, would it not have occurred to her that he might actually have an opinion of value to offer, and perhaps even an insight into the situation that LW1 herself might actually lack? Or is it sacrilege to think that a man could even begin to approach the capacity for understanding such a situation that would be brought to the table by any even smooth-browed woman?

Barring a submission of evidence to the contrary, LW1 should immediately divorce her husband, give him custody, move to Finland and try again with someone less distressing. I could go on about the errors of parental excesses in fixing the flaws of their children, but am just not in the mood for that sort of thing right now.

Moral: "If everybody minded their own business... the world would go round a deal faster than it does."

L2: So Bride and Groom are locked in mortal combat to see which of them gets to be Tweedledum and which of them gets to be Tweedledumber.

First of all, they ought to call off the wedding. Whenever I hear that a wedding has been called off, I always approve. Calling off a wedding and getting a divorce are the sorts of actions that are always correct, because even if the couple were perfectly suited to each other, not being able to recognize the fact would show at least one party to be lacking the brains to appreciate it, and marriage is not a course for the unperceptive.

I suppose that one can make a case for any sort of combination of parents walking down the aisle without it being offensive. But what on earth is the point with siblings? It's not as if those siblings eager to participate in a wedding can't have enough of a role anyway. And siblings certainly don't have the same sort of standing in relation to the wedding as parents. If one's brother were one's father, one would be a regular guest on Jerry Springer.

The mania for having unique weddings is causing a loss of focus, as has been mentioned. After all, it'snot as if a group of critics are making a circuit and grading nuptials. I suppose it might be possible, and at first thought it seems to have some pertinence, to let anyone particularly instrumental in bringing about the match take the walk of honour. The debate over numbers and evenness is moronic, but I have been told that people preparing to be married are not always entirely in their right minds. And, judging from the results, that could be extended to the decision to marry in the first place.

Moral: "If it was so it might be, and if it were so it would be, but as it isn't it ain't. That's logic."

L3: LW3 could be considered similar to the Queen of Hearts, or perhaps the Red Queen. Now I had a lovely speech all worked out about how LW3 is a Bigot with a capital Big and what excellent revenge on her it would be if her daughters turned out to be lesbians who went on to demonstrate much better skill at child-raising than their mother ever did, but sadly I have been sick for at least the past two hours, and have barely been able to type three words between unsuccessful attempts to bring up my lunch. I did finally succeed, but really feel in no condition to be coping with LW3 or any other LW for that matter, and the thought of a good long sleep is most appealing right about now. I might try LW3 again when I am feeling better, but it was largely a rant of self-indulgence which I'm sure many people will be just as glad to skip anyway.

Moral: Maybe this is what I get for saving this one for last.


  1. hrumpole, you are brilliant. Truly! Today’s entry is a special treat. I’m only sorry that you’re not feeling well.

    Your entire treatment of LW#1 is right on target, right down to the last crossing of the Ts and dotting of the Is! And, as it is significantly more wise and polite than my own response to this letter (although quite similar in spirit), I do hope that the LW learns of yours and is exposed to it. You make wonderful sense (and I don’t say that in any self serving way--the similarity in spirit is where the similarity between our responses ends, yours being brilliant, mine being, if nothing else, at least well-intentioned) and your response is one that a person desirous of advice can actually take to heart.

    As for this entire sentence, “Calling off a wedding and getting a divorce are the sorts of actions that are always correct, because...”, it is absolutely unparalleled in its wisdom. I wasn’t sure where you were going with it, though I knew it’d be good, but, I have to admit, your conclusions cannot be argued against! Perfect!

    Do feel better. I can pray for your recovery. if you'd like? ;-) I await your response to LW#3, rant though it may be.

    Good cheer, Hrumpole!

  2. The jaws that bite! The claws that catch!

    Just so, your bits on the betrothed and their non-problem made real by large ego exhibited by our dear letter writer number 2.

    One of my favorite non-words as offered by Mr. Carroll, which I recited at the tender age of seven or so in front of my classroom, is perfectly suited to the modern wedding-bound animal: Frumious. "Bridezilla" can't capture the impending fearsome attack of a bandersnatch (I picture four legs and over-broad haunches, and very large teeth - you know, kinda like Kim Kardashian), so described as "frumious." My ex-wife, I believe, was frumious. I am too, if I run out of beer.

    Well done again, HR.

  3. Hrumpole, so perceptive as usual! Except I wouldn't inflict that hair hater on the Finns, a number of whom too have unibrows.... (you know they do not speak a Indo-European language. They speak a Finno-Ugric language like Hungarians and Estonians and some small native Siberian groups --Who the hell know what happened in the double browed crusades against the unibrowed? Obviously there was a lack of communication and way too much frumiousness....)

  4. Well, I was about to say Norway, but didn't think LW1 worthy of entry to the land of Ibsen.

    Well done to both on frumious.

  5. SB1, many thanks, but I thought we were remarkably similar about L1 - close enough to the same thing as to make no difference.

    I thought I had previously mentioned always approving of a called-off wedding or a divorce as an almost by-definition-right decision.

    Actually, it has occurred to me that, now that weddings are no longer essentially a transfer of property which was the real purpose of Daddy walking Bride down the aisle to give her away, and, given that one might reasonably conclude that the bride generally has a clear majority of the average desire for any given wedding, by all rights, shouldn't the general tradition change to the groom being marched down the aisle as the prize to be awarded to the bride?