The idle ramblings of a Jack of some trades, Master of none

Dec 3, 2010

Trix and Topsy

A. P. Herbert's ditzy-but-wise heroine Topsy writes long, stream of consciousness missives to her faithful friend Trix. In the months of rationing and food shortage after the Second World War, she and her politician husband are on their way back to England from Denmark on a ship laden with food for the starving British masses. Here's an excerpt from the very droll Topsy Turvy: dear Haddock has just been in and he says the wind is only Force 4 South Easterly but freshening, the drab thing will be if I miss the mid-day meal, I think there's a dim hope still because my delicious Danes do everything at the wrongest time, my dear we lunch at 11.30 and have dinner at half-past-five which gives one rather a protracted evening, but my dear what meals, the entire crew is only 21, but you couldn't comb Soho for more salubrious cooking and the most paternal steward, the overture to lunch is like all the stories, my dear yesterday I counted fifteen things on the table and all enchanting, there were two kinds of smoked herring and one smoked sole, with onions, imagine darling, two categories of bacon no three I think because one was hot, some fascinating sliced ham, some sort of hot fish, two types of egg-food, liver pate, home made and high marks for succulence, cold pork, and pressed beef, sausages in two styles, oh yes and mayonnaise of salmon and some sort of inscrutable stuff I cannot classify, all this my dear accompanied by schnapps, with chasers of refreshing lager, not to mention a mountain of butter, and of course just when you think the meal is over, not that you tackle all the things of course, it's just the spectacle, well in comes some hot pork or beef or somewhat magically but simply cooked, actually my dear they do not consume excessively but there is no doubt they understand the art of living, however perhaps one had better discontinue this discussion because it's putting ideas into the little tummy and now it's too manifest that steamers of 1000 tons ought not to go about the oceans excepting in the flattest calm, my dear Haddock who's indecently well keeps surging in and saying What a good sea-boat which I've told him not to say again, however to go back to the buildings which may be safer, there's one fantastic pale-green spire made of the tails of four dragons twisted together, I'll send you a postcard...


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