An excerpt from my book A Very Fine Cat Indeed; A Dramatic Monologue. Johnson discovers the redemptive quality of oysters. The book is available here.
Every man that has felt pain, knows how few the comforts are that can gladden him to whom health is denied. I fed Hodge valerian to ease his agonies. I bought oysters for his delight, these being soft, and the best meat for his toothless jaws. I went for them myself. I had no wish to humiliate poor Francis by sending him on so shameful an errand, for oysters are cheap and plentiful, and none but the poorest wretches eat them. But were oysters a hundred-fold the price, as they were in Julius Caesar’s Rome, I should have found gold to procure them for poor Hodge, as he loved them.
One morning I walked to Porridge-island, a mean street by St Martin-in-the-Fields, where there are cook-shops and carts for the poor. A small mob clustered round the oyster carts, and I was forced to wait while they dispersed. The day was gloomy. It began to rain. I thought of a darker morning, some three-score years ago, when I was a small boy, and refused to go with my father to Uttoxeter Market, where he sold books from a mean stall. Pride was the source of this refusal, and the remembrance of it was ever painful. Not long ago I desired to atone for this fault, and went to Uttoxeter. An old man now, I stood for a considerable time, bareheaded, in the rain, on the spot where my father’s stall used to stand. In contrition I stood, and I hoped the penance was expiatory, but felt it not. Now, at the oyster cart in Porridge-island, I felt myself absolved, and this was no mere fancy. What we seek is very seldom found where it is sought. Our brightest blaze of gladness is commonly kindled by unexpected sparks. So it was that oyster day, in the cold rain of London.
- You can’t be too thin or too rich……is an utterance traditionally attributed to the Duchess of Windsor. I’m told that the true authoress was the socialite and style icon Barbara “Babe” Paley (above, looking terrific in Givenchy – and below with her husband in the South of France). For more, see here.
- Joseph Addison on Vivisection“A person who was well skilled in dissection opened a bitch, and as she lay in most exquisite tortures offered her one of her young puppies, which she immediately fell a-licking; and for the time seemed insensible to her own pain; on the removal she kept her eye fixed on it and began a wailing […]
- Should your cat get a degree?Oliver was a handsome four-year-old black cat who lived in Wales in the late 1960s. He belonged to Michael Greenhalgh, an enterprising television cameraman and journalist who worked for Television Wales. They lived near Newport, Oliver holding the fort while Michael divided his time between location work and the television studios in Cardiff and Bristol. […]
- Latest Trump Scam: AFPI (America First Policy Institute)The ludicrous idea of a Trump policy institute #AFPI puts me in mind of John Stuart Mill’s delightfully cynical observation on the virtues of giving oxygen to idiocy rather than seeking to suppress it: “The peculiar evil of silencing the expression of an opinion is, that it is robbing the human race; posterity as well […]
- Dutch Proverbs 13: Trust not one who bears fire in one hand and water in the otherBeware two-faced people. Detail from The Folly of the World by Pieter Bruegel the Elder, 1559, Gemäldegalerie, Berlin. The painting (below) illustrates 112 Dutch proverbs.