Wednesday, February 07, 2007

Bombers streaming overhead like a well-regulated flush of pheasants

At the TLS, Richard Davenport-Hines on the war diaries of courtier Sir Alan Lascelles:

Rationing spoilt every aspect of life: Lascelles has to dine on bully beef and fruit tart at the Travellers Club, roast mutton with cider at the Duchess of Devonshire’s, hotpot of rabbit followed by blancmange at Goldsmiths’ Hall. He found it impossible to buy a new suit with enough pockets, had to wear underpants inherited from an uncle in 1920 and winced at spending thirty-five shillings to acquire a bath sponge – of a quality, he complained, “which a few years ago one would have bought for 3/6 to wash the dog with”. Lascelles’s diaries are a rich source of Churchilliana. Sometimes he encounters the Prime Minister in “a devilish bad temper”, and deplores his “dictatorial habits”. He was crucial in preventing Churchill and King George VI from rashly accompanying British forces at the D-Day landings, and noted then that the Prime Minister’s “naughtiness is sheer selfishness, plus vanity”. But there are many affectionate, even adulatory glimpses of the great war leader: Churchill, after receiving the news that British forces had launched their great Egyptian offensive, astonishing the Palace footmen by striding down a corridor singing “Roll out the barrel” with gusto; Churchill inveighing against the affected accents of “pansies in the BBC”; and Churchill ending a stormy interview with de Gaulle with a threat: “Et, marquez mes mots, mon ami – si vous me double-crosserez, je vous liquiderai”.

A few other thoughts: I must get those Hugh Trevor-Roper letters that Davenport-Hines edited (absurdity of double-barreled names... I wonder when double-barreled came into use in that sense?); also, I highly recommend Peter Dickinson's novel King and Joker as a glimpse into an alternate-universe Buckingham Palace...

An addendum from the OED (I am sorry to say I'm down with a low-level stomach virus that means I must shortly go back to bed & that has shown me that my mood right now is far too dependent on the progress of my learn-to-be-a-good-swimmer project, which is temporarily and distressingly thwarted by illness): DOUBLE-BARRELLED.

1. a. Of a fire-arm: Having two barrels.

1709 STEELE Tatler No. 34 5 His double-barrelled Pistols. 1835 W. IRVING Tour Prairies 95, I discharged the double-barrelled gun to the right and left.

b. Of a telescope.

1955 Sci. News Let. 21 May 324/2 A double-barreled telescope that can record a golf ball's flight eight miles away will go to work for the Air Force to track guided missiles.

2. fig. Serving a double purpose; having a double reference; double, twofold.

1777 Maryland Jrnl. 9 Sept. (Th.), The event of this double-barreled scheme has been, that the colonel and his party are defeated. 1837 DICKENS Pickw. xxvii, This was a double-barrelled compliment. 1841 THACKERAY Second Funeral Napoleon ii, The above account..has a double-barrelled morality. 1889 Univ. Rev. Nov. 345 Every one they know has a double-barrelled name and a great-grandfather of renown. 1912 W. OWEN Let. 24 July (1967) 151 Your sleek Thomas, Hopkins, Dixon,..and the rest of these double-barrelled guns, whose double-barrelled names I refuse to write. 1938 Spectator 21 Jan. 75/2 The two minor groups are generally nominate one candidate in the double-barrelled constituencies. 1959 J. P. HUGHES How you got your Name vi. 103 In surnames the double-barrelled form does not appear before the eighteenth century. 1965 T. REESE Bridge Conventions 44 Double-barrelled Stayman, an extension of the Stayman Convention whereby both two clubs and two diamonds in response to 1 NT are conventional.

So double-barrel a. = DOUBLE-BANKED a.; n., (a) a double-barrelled gun; (b) a hyphenated surname (cf. DOUBLE-BARRELLED a. 2 above); double-barrel v. nonce-wd., to make ‘double-barrelled’.

1807 Z. M. PIKE Acct. Exped. Mississippi (1810) 8 Apr. 240 Visited the treasurer, who showed me the double-barrel gun given by governor Clairborne. 1811 BYRON Hints fr. Hor. 556 Double-barrels..miss their mark. 1829 FONBLANQUE Eng. under 7 Administ. (1837) I. 313 A double-barrel gun. 1848 THACKERAY Bk. Snobs xii, He double-barrelled his name, and, instead of T. Sniffle..came Rev. T. D'Arcy Sniffle. 1952 A. POWELL Buyer's Market iii. 178 The double-barrel..has really no basis whatever, beyond the surname of a remote ancestor.


  1. i'm sorry to hear you have a stomach virus. i get a lot of stomach and digestion problems and found a magic elixir in peppermint tea. sounds like with a virus you need rest and soup as well. hope you feel better soon.

  2. i just came across an interesting blog entry that included a study on spiderwebs spun on various drugs. thought you'd be interested. i think NASA's website has a more extensive description but i couldn't locat it there.
    the link is:

  3. Is that an alternate universe Buckingham Palace or an alternative?

  4. Not sure about the force of the distinction--but it's an entirely realistically rendered 1970s Buckingham Palace only the succession in this universe has run differently & the main character of the novel is Princess Louise, daughter of King Victor (can't possibly reproduce family tree, but the royal-followers amongst you will be able to figure it out...) It really is a great novel, I highly recommend it: Peter Dickinson is a favorite writer of mine, I feel he should be much higher-profile/widely read than he is. ("The Lively Dead" is my particular favorite.)

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