Dulltown, UK/Europe: Today’s quotation is another from Vladimir Nabokov’s 1928 novel, King, Queen, Knave which I am currently re-reading – gosh, I do hope you like these snippets, and that I’m not boring you with them dear reader!
(Franz’s vision is impaired, as he has broken his glasses.)
Like a woman’s wispy dress that has slipped off its hanger, the city shimmered and fell in fantastic folds, not held up by anything, a discarnate iridescence limply suspended in the azure autumnal air. Beyond the nacrine desert of the square, across which a car sped now and then with a new metropolitan trumpeting, great pink edifices loomed, and a sudden sunbeam, a gleam of glass, would stab him painfully in the pupil.
Yes, I’ll bet, back in 1954, chaps couldn’t wait for the next edition of Gadgets Magazine to come out! Chaps who were eager to get busy tinkering in their garden shed, or their little workshop with a makeshift bench, and a small wobbly vice, and a rack of old and well-used tools! Perhaps they had bought and read from cover to cover the previous year’s annual collection of the best items from the magazine, the 1954 Gadgets Annual.
I have of course my own rescued junk shop copy, here’s a photograph of the title page, having lost its dust jacket, the book itself is visually not very interesting:
Ah, good old W. N. Shaw!
Yes, those were the days when people repaired things rather than gleefully throwing them out as we do now; they also made clever and interesting things for use around the home and garden. Here are a few articles selected at random to give you a flavour of the book: A Simple Racquet Press, An Inexpensive Waterproof Tool-Holder, Home-made Nightlights, An Extension Tool For Reaching Awkward Places, What You Should Know About Christmas Trees, A Safe Tumbler Rack, etc.
But now let’s have a look at the bottom of page 85:
‘Albert dear, can’t you see I’m dusting the front room pelmets!’
‘Yes, but I’m working on something rather remarkable.’
‘Yes, it’s a party stunt.’
‘Party, stunt, Madge… An amusing one!’
‘I don’t know what you are talking about!’
‘Just pop down from your chair and… it’ll only take a minute dear.’
‘Is this that silly magazine of yours again Albert?’
‘It’s not silly Madge! It has some very clever things it is, especially this particular issue!’
‘Alright, alright, but you’ll have to be quick, I want to get the upstairs pelmets done as well this morning – now, what is it you want me to do?’
‘Just take your cardigan off and slip my old waistcoat on instead, then I want you to…’
‘What?… Your old waistcoat?…’
‘Come on now Madge, I’ll hold your cardie, that’s right, now put your arms through here, no, no, don’t button it up…’
‘Albert! This is madness! Suppose someone looks in the window!’
‘Well, say, the Nobby the postman!’
‘Now you’ll need to put my suit jacket on…’
‘This silliness has gone far enough!’
‘But it will be a really good trick – we’ll have them in stitches at the Christmas do!’
‘You know Madge, you look rather good in a chap’s waistcoat!’
‘Don’t be ridiculous Albert!… What are you doing? Stop it! You know I’m ticklish!… Oh do stop it!…’
‘Shall I draw the curtains Madge? I can see Nobby coming up the path with some letters…’