season's end

01/18/18 09:00

Two more final nuggets from the Christmas Spectator, which I finished a few days ago. Lynn Barber, in her “Diary,” remembered former editor Alexander Chancellor, who died last year, as not just “a brilliant writer and editor,” but also “one of the last of the great lunchers.” People wrote for him, she said, not for the money but for the lunches. Chancellor was editor in 1980, when I discovered the magazine in the British Institute in Warsaw, Poland, and it was his idea to initiate a High Life column, and run it alongside a Low Life column. Evidently he was an eclectic luncher.

And in his “Miscellaneous Notebook,” Ben Schott informed us that the great comedian Peter Cook had a stock reply to people who told him they were writing a novel. It was: “Neither am I.”

By Thomas Swick • Category: media

Hearing that a publication that always rejected you has folded.

By Thomas Swick • Category: Americans

I visited Haiti once, in the early ’90s, not for a travel story but an article about the South Florida organization Food for the Poor. As the local contact led us through Cite Soleil, the worst slum in Port-au-Prince, various locals attached themselves to us, including a teenage boy who spoke with me in French. Before leaving, he wrote his name and address on a small scrap of paper and asked me, when I got home, to send him a French-English dictionary.

 I no longer remember the quarterback’s name, or the team he played for, but after he completed a long pass Keith Jackson said: “You give that young man time he’ll go home with your hat.”

By Thomas Swick • Category: Uncategorized

I took the tree down Sunday but I’m still making my way, slowly, through The Spectator Christmas special. Hania bought it at Bob’s about two weeks ago when I was under the weather – “Are you the wife of the guy who’s been looking for this?” she was asked by the cashier – and already on page 128 (I always read the magazine from back to front) I learned that the labradoodle was created in Australia “for a blind woman whose husband was allergic to dog hair.” A little further on I read that Scottish smoked salmon was first produced in London, by Eastern European Jews.

Once into the book reviews, I was going to skip the one of Entitled: A Critical History of the British Aristocracy, but then I would have missed this jewel of a sentence by reviewer Nicky Haslam: “Instead, it’s a polemic against crats aristo, auto, mono or pluto; and the author apparently yearns for any crat of a different stripe – not just demo and bureau, but mobo, neo and probably ochlo to boot.”

In his review of A Short History of Drunkenness (an appropriate tome for the season), James Walton quotes William James: “Sobriety diminishes, discriminates, and says no; drunkenness expands, unites, and says yes.” And in his review of An English Christmas, William Cook gives the perfect description of the season: “long periods of pleasant torpor interrupted by brief moments of magic.” Happily, mine is still going on.

By Thomas Swick • Category: media

The cover story in the New York Times Magazine on Sunday was on the city's subway system, and the photo captions included:

"An M.T.A. worker cutting through a piece of steel as new track is fitted on the 1 line in Manhattan."

"A J train leaving the Chambers Street station in Manhattan."

"A rat hauling a Moon Pie into the shadows at 125th Street."

By Thomas Swick • Category: Americans

Where to go in 2018? Oh, just go back to where you went last year.

By Thomas Swick • Category: Travel