Old folk at lunch

Tuesday, April 27, 2010

A small personal reflection of no importance

In chapter 30 of The Pickwick Papers by Charles Dickens, Mr Pickwick falls into a pond and is hauled out with some difficulty. We then read:

"Dear old thing, said Arabella. Let me wrap my shawl around you"

That is surely a fairly mundane comment but I remember my late mother regarding it with great scorn. Why? I do not know. It would have been in an excerpt contained in one of my school reading books that she read it and I was too young to question her at that time.

She was a woman of little education but considerable knowledge so did she know that "Arabella" is almost exclusively an English upper class name? I doubt it.

I suspect that she just identified it (correctly) as English upper class speech and disliked that. Who knows?

It's perhaps a sad thing but I rememember almost nothing that either of my parents ever said to me. The strongest influence on my youthful self was undoubtedly the New Testament. And compared to those powerful words, my parents were the palest of pale shadows in the background


I should have asked a woman what my mother most likely meant. I told the story above to Anne and she pointed out what I now see as the most likely explanation: A shawl is usually a fairly diaphanous thing so wrapping it around a dripping wet person would achieve nothing. Hence my mother's scorn.

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