I can’t remember which blogger was talking about tweeting when you get to a good part of a book but I want to send out a quick Tweet! for James Joyce’s A Portrait of the Artist as a Young Man. Here is the opening section to refresh your memories:
Once upon a time and a very good time it was there was a moocow coming down along the road and this moocow that was coming down along the road met a nicens little boy named baby tuckoo…
His father told him that story: his father looked at him through a glass: he had a hairy face.
He was baby tuckoo. The moocow came down the road where Betty Byrne lived: she sold lemon platt.
O, the wild rose blossoms
On the little green place.
He sang that song. That was his song.
O, the green wothe botheth.
When you wet the bed first it is warm then it gets cold. His mother put on the oilsheet. That had the queer smell.
I love the toddler’s delight in the moocow (with all its associations) and then the observations of his dad (glasses, hairy) and the joy of words. The wetting of the bed introduces another element but it’s sensory rather than traumatic. It’s described in terms of the sensations (warm and then cold) and the queer smell of the oilsheet.
This book always reminds me of high school English classes, which were my favourite (together with History). When I picture English lessons my mind starts in the chapel (domed, Byzantine, rows of wooden seats) and then zooms over the little quadrangles of grass (not to be walked on) up the stone steps into the old classrooms. On the right is a tunnel (with wooden noticeboards and a majestic staffroom) while the passage to the left leads down to the library (modern, big windows, the quiet hush of reading). The English classrooms were some of the best in the school – shady, cool, in easy walking distance.
On a personal note, I will be away doing exercises with the troops until Weds. I think the best part of the trip will be having my own personal chauffeur (a devoted P) driving me to and from the airport. Thanks P!