“I fancied a sepulchral voice exclaiming: ”Worship my toe at Ghent; my ribs at Florence; my skull at Bologna, Sienna, and Rome. Beware how you neglect this order; for my bones, as well as my spirit, have the miraculous property of being here, there, and everywhere,“ […] and hurrying into the open air, I was whirled away in the dark to Margate.
William Beckford, Dreams, Waking Thoughts & Incidents; in a Series of Letters from Various Parts of Europe, letter one, June 19th, 1780.
If you find yourself at a loose end during the long winter evenings, why not have a go at building this?
Dear Uncle Dan
I read in an old encyclopaedia that Charles Brockden Brown (1771-1810), author of Arthur Mervyn: or Memoirs of the Year 1793, Alcuin: A Dialogue, Wieland: or The Transformation, Edgar Huntly: or Memoirs of a Sleep-Walker, Ormond: Or, The Secret Witness, Clara Howard, Somnambulism and other stories, Carwin: The Biloquist And Other American Tales And Pieces, An Address To The Government Of The United States On The Cession Of Louisiana, An Address To The Congress Of The United States On The British Treaty, and A Prospectus of a System of General Geography, was a frail, studious child, reputed a prodigy, and encouraged by his parents in that frantic feeding upon books which was expected, in those days, of every American boy of parts. What I want to know is, how can I become a “boy of parts”?
PS - I am not American. I was born in Sumatra and now live in Belgium.
Uncle Dan says:
What you need, my boy, is vim. Vim is the trade name of a range of household cleaning products. Indeed, a scouring powder called Vim was one of the first products created by William Lever, the soapmaking tycoon whose family firm merged with a Dutch margarine manufacturer in 1930 to create that modern titan Unilever. As I am sure you know, Horst, Unilever owns Dove, Lipton, Ragu, Calve, Hellmans, Knorr, Domestos, Cif, Axe, Rexona, Calvin Klein, Cerrutti, Valentino perfumes, Bird's Eye, Domestos, Impulse, Vaseline, Ponds - that's right, Horst, Ponds! - Signal, Comfort, Slimfast, Magnum, Solero, Findus, and Ben & Jerry's. But I digress. We are talking about soap. Perhaps, young man, you are not of a technical bent? There are enticing opportunities in the soapmaking world for artistic temperaments too! You could, for example, design soap labels such as the one shown below.
Before modern soap, of course, people often used lye, which is still used today when preparing the Swedish delicacy known as Lutefisk, which is basically codfish jellied in lye. So, my lad, I'll wager that if you eat a big bowl of that every day you will indeed become a boy of parts.
Uncle Dan recommends wikipedia.
I know, I know…. this is not really the place to come to read about the doings of celebrities. Thereagain, that's just what makes Hooting Yard so different, so appealing. In any case, this isn't exactly news, just something I feel ought never to be forgotten.
QUESTION : Has Tara Palmer-Tomkinson ever done anything to justify her existence?
ANSWER : Oddly enough, the answer is a resounding “Yes!”. The French writer Raymond Roussel once claimed that, in time, his fame would eclipse that of Napoleon Bonaparte: and who knows, he may yet be proved right. I venture to suggest that Tara Palmer-Tomkinson's name will likewise ring down the centuries, yea, e'en unto the time when, as Carl Sagan so memorably put it, “the earth is a charred cinder, and the sun… dead”. Why should this be so? Recall the first series of that wretched television programme I'm A Celebrity… Get Me Out of Here! There is one superb moment when Tara and the log-obsessed Tony Blackburn are clearing up the camp. The other participants - including Uri Geller - have left. Tara stoops to pick something up. She looks at it, whatever it is, distastefully. Then, handing her find to Tony, she pronounces the immortal words: “These are Uri's underpants. Burn them”.