Saturday, June 20, 2009


I recently finished reading Elizabeth Taylor's novel The Wreath of Roses and am thinking about writing something about it. In doing a little web searching on the topic I stumbled on an interesting post by a Tayloresque Irish woman who calls her blog ganching ("1. To talk in a halting, agitated way; 2. talk stupidly; 3. of a dog snapping of the teeth; 4. of a horse biting"). The post includes a photo of a branch line railway station. The author and a friend have come there to take a countryside walk. The connection with Taylor's novel relates to its branch-line motif. (Its first line: "Afternoons seem unending on branch-line stations in England in summer time.")

Excerpts from the post:
I was in Balcombe yesterday with my friend Fiona who likes to talk and talk and talk some more. With every mile we walked my mood got worse and worse. When we arrived in Balcombe it was raining. . . . We squelched off through the long, wet grass to the nearest pub where we had cold fried eggs and ham. This also made me cross as did the fact that my boots were letting in water. Fiona pretended not to notice that I was out of sorts and continued to talk. . . . Eventually I snapped: "Would you ever stop talking 'til I read these directions. . . . Fiona continues to chat. We walk along for 15 minutes. Nothing we see accords with the directions in the book. Eventually I stop. I insist that Fiona must be wrong and we need to retrace our steps all the way back to the exiting the woods bit. Fiona argues against this but eventually agrees and we spend 20 minutes trudging back the way we have come. Eventually we reach the bridge again.

"Ok, Fiona, you have to pay attention this time as well. Cross the river by a wooden bridge, following the footpath sign. Follow this path straight up the hill.

"What happened to the half-left?"

"What half-left?

"The half-left you read out the last time!"

It is at this point that I realise where I have gone wrong. For a split second I consider lying to Fiona but good sense prevails plus I know I wouldn't get away with it.

"Umm, I think I turned over a page too many last time!"

The directions in the book begin to make sense again. My boots continue to let in water. Fiona continues to chat.
{The photo shows Balcombe Station; it was taken by the author and appears on flickr.}
Here's a recent post the author calls White Collar Crime. The phrase "Moats, tennis courts, flat screen televisions!" refers to the revelations of illicit and highly questionable public expenditures for personal benefit by House of Commons Members. We know from previous posts that the author has recently moved into a tiny London flat and is making repairs. She puts the whole post in Italics to show that it's a conversation.
Nearly finished. If you could just turn the heating on for a minute to make sure there are no leaks. So, like I was saying, what a bloody shower.

I know! Moats, tennis courts, flat screen televisions!

If it was one of us it would be a different story. It's fraud isn't it? Nothing else. Have you got a cloth in case there is a leak?

Scatter cushions, flipping, flipping nerve more like.

That's it - all done.

How much do I owe you?

Forty five quid if you want a receipt?

I was going to pay cash.

Great! Thirty quid and no receipt.

There you go.

Lovely - so I'll be back to clean out the radiators in a few weeks. See you then.

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