Friday, June 18, 2010

Betty and the Real World

Heidelberg Wedding has too many references of the real world for me to list them all. Surprisingly, this book did not feel like a travelogue because of it. Anyway, here are a few:

When Hatty the Handmaiden falls in love, Eugenia thinks to herself that she feels as old as Methuselah's wife which reminds me of Porgy and Bess's It Ain't Necessarily So...
Methuselah lived nine hundred years
But who calls that livin'

When no gal will give in

To no man what's 900 years
Eugenia's father is a bit of an old dear. He is very engaged in her life but he shares a habit that most Neels father's have. He's a old book collector (which hobby, Gerard ruthlessly exploits to gain his affection). His favorite book sellers are in Charing Cross Road which, as any Harry Potter-phile will tell you, is where the Leaky Cauldron in located. Such establishments as Any Amount of Books, Blackwell's, Murder One and Silver Moon were (or still are) based there. Lovely names all. If I owned a book shop it would be called: Betty Slept Here (I spent 20 whole seconds thinking that up.) What would you call yours?

In Heidelberg we get brief mention of a street called Philosopher's Way. I was hoping that it would mean one particular philosopher (who maybe leapt to his tragic death at the top of a precipice nearby--how grisly but fascinating that would have been!) but it was named for the students at Heidelberg University when student and philosopher were interchangeable terms. Which is really not as fun as it should be. Maybe we could start an internet rumor to spice things up.

At Heidelberg castle they come across a stone arch built in one night as a birthday present from Elector Fredrich the Fifth for his wife Elizabeth Stuart. (Isn't that just like a man to leave the shopping until the last minute?) Elizabeth (see right) is an interesting character whose love affair with her husband was, to all accounts, genuine. In the wiki article the arch doesn't get mentioned, possibly to make room for all the other things Fredrich had built for her--an English wing of the palace, a menagerie, gardens, a monkey house...Why say it in flowers when architecture can be your language of love?

The Secret Pool:

We have a patient who is thought to have kala-azar, but it turns out to be malaria. There's a spot (excuse the pun) of kala-azar to the left which is transmitted by the bite of a particular sand fly. Also called, briefly and locally, Jericho Buttons (they do look like buttons) and, more generally, leishmaniasis which is the bo-ring name. Kala-azar is the Urdu or Hindi or Hindustani name for it which literally means 'black fever'. I'd much rather tell people I'd been to India and brought back kala-azar--they'd likely think it was a woodwind instument instead of a disfiguring parasite...

At St. Bavo's Cathedral in Haarlem Fran listens to the organist play Fauré. No sooner written than done. Here. It's lovely. He, himself, described his Requiem as "a lullaby of death".

Fran is no musical slouch herself and has quite a repertoire on the piano. Delius, Chopin, Debussy, Cats and Me and My Girl. She has to trot her talent out with very little warning like a dog and pony show. This is why I learned the trumpet. No one ever asks you to play the trumpet.

1 comment:

  1. Betty Barbara here--
    Hmmm, my used book store would be called Romancelandia--obviously a romance only store, with a Betty nook, of course.
    Awwww, Faure's Requiem. I love that piece of music! It is almost cozy (as compared to Beethovan's or Brahm's--which are very grand). As to playing a musical instrument--I can run a CD player with the best of them and am old enough to be able to run a tape deck and a turntable, too. My 3 years of piano lessons were, to be kind, not successful (though I did have a good time and my teacher liked my parents' money).