Monday, May 24, 2010

Waiting for Deborah - Discussion Thread

Uncle Oscar likes to play card games. Two-handed patience, bezique and racing demon are mentioned. But it turns out he really, really likes to play chess. Deborah may not be quite his match, but she at least gives him a bit of a run for his money. Face it, he doesn't really want to lose, so the fact that he does so well against her is just dandy. I have never had the patience to play chess. I have no notion of strategy, offensive or defensive...all I'm good for is to explain to kindergarten age boys which way each piece can move. Frankly, kindergartners and first graders are the only people I enjoy playing chess with. [Betty Keira] I'm no Bobby Fisher either. But I am a big fan of chess sets. (I have a really great set of cheap, hand-painted clay figures. The knights are llamas.) Is it somehow false advertising to collect sets if you're not much of a player yourself?

Sir James Marlow was not born a 'sir'. No sir. He evidently earned his knighthood. Besides being filthy rich or obscenely famous, how does one become a 'Sir'?And such a young one two? If you're a Sir's wife, do you still get to be called 'Lady'?

When Deborah is going down to Frog Cottage (Best cottage name ever)[Betty Debbie] I beg to differ..I still like "Ogre's Relish" from Cassandra by Chance better, her trip to the cottage takes a bus, three train connections and another bus. (Good thing he drives her after the first train). I'm not sure exactly how far she's traveling (I can't imagine it being more than 200 miles), but I have to admit that would not be a comfortable trip. Especially with luggage. When I flew to Japan a while back, I took a shuttle to the airport, then the flight, then a train ride to Tokyo, then walked a block or two to another train station, then took the bullet train to the city Dr. van der Stevejinck was in, then had to find a taxi and point at the address of the hotel. At least Deborah would have been reading and speaking her native tongue. Just sayin'.

Let's take a ride on the Obsolete Electronics Express! There is a reference to a 'word processor' in Sir Marlow's office. No, Betty was not referring to Microsoft Word, Word Perfect, Open Office or the like. No, she was talking about a word processing machine...more than a typewriter, less than a computer. It's been a long time since I've seen one of these babies. As the more versatile combination of a personal computer and separate printer became commonplace, most business-machine companies stopped manufacturing the word processor as a stand-alone office machine - Wikipedia My freshmen year of college (1995) I sometimes used a word processor that my roommate had if I needed short papers typed quickly. But even then they were on the out-moded side.

Let's get back to Uncle Oscar. Deborah takes him for walks to the village shop where he purchases 'humbugs'. I've heard of 'humbugs' before, but I never took the time to find out exactly what they were before. According to Wikipedia: Humbugs are a traditional hard boiled sweet available in the United Kingdom, Ireland, Canada, Australia and New Zealand. They are usually flavoured with peppermint and striped in two different colours (often black and white). They have a hard outside and a soft toffee center. Humbugs are typically cylinders with rounded ends wrapped in a twist of cellophane, or else pinched cylinders with a 90-degree turn between one end and the other (shaped like a pyramid with rounded edges), loose in a bag. I just love the name 'humbug' and the image of Uncle Oscar stuffing his cheeks and pockets with them.

Deborah does not seem cut out for the secretarial life. She takes a course in shorthand and typing (she is advised to drop the word processor course because she is too slow - heaven knows how poorly she would have fared had she signed up for a course in 'computer'). Alas for her, she flunks both her shorthand AND her typing exams. She wasn't the only one. Some of the other girls who failed the typing/shorthand course were pretty cheerful about it. They were very helpful and advised her to do what they planned - they were going to go on the 'dole'. "...you just sign on - if there's a job going you go and look at it and if you don't like it you say so." No matter how hard up a Neels heroine gets, she never THIS hard up. She works hard for the money... There are several unspoken 'Thou Shalts' in Neelsdom and taking charity when one still had enough small change to feed the heat meter was one of them...