Friday, 30 November 2007

Wet Fish and Chamber Pots

Someone - I can't recall who - once told me that he had visited Attingham Park when it was an innovative adult education community led by Sir George Trevelyan. He was introduced to Trevelyan who, asserting enthusiastically that there was poetry in everything, seized a casually discarded railway timetable, opened it at random, and dramatically declaimed, "choice of chilled, fruit juices," emphasising the alliteration like a true thespian.

One suspects that the timetable was a strategic prop and the random extract far from random, and possibly not even an extract, but nevertheless the point about the ubiquity of poetry was well made. Slopping in the bilges of my mind ever since I read it in some book is a notice apparently once pinned up in Italian sleeping-cars. Something like, "Sotto il lavabo une trouve uno vaso,", which I think means, "there is a chamber pot under the wash basin." It sounds a lot better in Italian than it does in English.

I thought I'd test out the poetry everywhere thesis, and opened the phone book at random. Bad choice; "Carpenter S, Carpenter SA, Carpenter TJ, Carpenter V, Carptenter P, Carr Rev A" didn't seem too poetic.

Hang about. Carptenter? Is that a misprint? I can understand how the Carpenters acquired their name, but were there medieval tradesmen making tents for fish? Are there other forgotten fish trades? Dabhanders perhaps, or Turbotchargers? My attempts to research the issue drew a blank, but I did learn a lot. Did you know, for example, that the Ginger Carpet Shark is a relation of the Tasselled Wobbegong? I thought not. But then, as I waded through the species, the Oblique-Bar Monocle Bream, the Painted Sweet Lip, the Bass Groper, the Six Band Rock Cod, etc, it dawned on me that there was indeed poetry, and that it was good.

Which reminds me, Brother Tobias once wrote a pome about fish. I'll post it tomorrow, if I can find it. Bet you can't hardly wait.

No comments:

Post a Comment