Three Quotations

(August 13th to 24th)


1. 'He told me' he said suddenly, ' that my home address was Jerusalem. You heard that ?'

'But it was the tone - the tone,' Olyett cried.

…' "Is that a dressing-gown or an ulster you're supposed to be wearing ?" You heard that ?…"And I suppose you hadn't time to brush your hair either ?" You heard that?…Now you hear !' His voice filled the coffee-room, then dropped to a whisper as dreadful as a surgeon's before an operation...
This is from "The Village that voted the Earth was Flat" in A Diversity of Creatures.

Sir Thomas Ingell, an MP and local magistrate, has had up a group of motorists for speeding, fined them, and - what was worse - ridiculed them in court. Unfortunately for him they included a newspaper editor, a music-hall impresario, and another MP, not to mention the narrator. They take an elaborate revenge, which makes the MP and his village a national laughing-stock.


2. Mrs Bellamy opened the window and spoke. It appears that she had only charged for damage to the bicycle, not for the entire machine which Mr Lingnam was ruthlessly gleaning, spoke by spoke, from the highway, and cramming into the slack of the hood.

At last he answered, and I have never seen a man foam at the mouth before. 'If you don't stop, I shall come into your house - in this car - and drive upstairs and - kill you !'...
This is from "The Vortex" in A Diversity of Creatures.

A group of colleagues, including Mr Lingnam, a particularly pompous theoretician on matters of imperial policy, have been out for a Sunday drive, and - with Lingnam at the wheel - make for a local village to buy some beer for their picnic. Unfortunately Lingnam knocks a delivery boy off his bicycle, and his load - four boxes of bees - is spilt into the road. The bees erupt into the village, stinging everyone they can find, and there is chaos. Mr Lingnam takes refuge in the pond, and when he emerges dripping, is berated by the owner of the bees.


3. ...The stuff was getting in its work. Bluey, white, and blue again rolled over the navvy's face in waves, till all settled to one rich clay-bank yellow, and - that fell which fell.
I thought of the blowing up of Hell Gate; of the geysers in Yellowstone Park; of Jonah and his whale; but the lively original, as I watched it foreshortened from above, exceeded all these things…His right hand was upon the doctor's collar, so that the two shook to one paroxysm, pendulums vibrating together, while I, apart, shook with them...
This is from "My Sunday at Home" in The Day's Work.

A train has stopped at a wayside station deep in the English countryside, and through a misunderstanding, a doctor on the train thinks that a navvy has swallowed a bottle of poison. He administers a powerful emetic, with spectacular results. After being violently sick, the navvy seizes the doctor in an iron grip, from which he is only able to escape by cutting the sleeve out of his expensive overcoat.