Christmas reading

01/12/18 08:28

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

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