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Sunday, August 26, 2007


Let us not offend these good plain people

Fr. Ray Blake has a blog about the questionable design of a new church window, and the new Basingstoke "house of worship." Philip, over at carpe canum, had similar thoughts. It doesn't take much for me to think of a favorite bit from Brideshead Revisited.

In this part, Charles Ryder has been off painting in South America for two years. He is unhappy with his marriage, but on the boat back, runs into Julia, with whom he starts a torrid love affair. He has a requisite art show, and the very light in the loafers, but also sensibly perceptive and aesthete Anthony Blanche, an Oxford contemporary of his, drops in for a look. Here is what ensued:

'My dear, there is a g-g-gorgon here who thinks I am g-g-gate-crashing. I only arrived in London yesterday, and heard quite by chance at luncheon that you were having an exhibition, so, of course I dashed impetuously to the shrine to pay homage. Have I changed? Would you recognize me? Where are, the pictures? Let me explain them to you.'

Anthony Blanche had not changed from when I last saw him; not, indeed, from when I first saw him. He swept lightly across the room to the most prominent canvas - a jungle landscape paused a moment, his head cocked like a knowing terrier, and asked: 'Where, my dear Charles, did you find this sumptuous greenery? The corner of a hothouse at T-t-rent or T-t-tring? What gorgeous usurer nurtured these fronds for your pleasure?'

Then he made a tour of the two rooms; once or twice he sighed deeply, otherwise he kept silence. When he came to the end he sighed once more, more deeply than ever, and said: 'But they tell me, My dear, you are happy in love. That is everything, is it not, or nearly everything?'

'Are they as bad as that?'

Anthony dropped his voice to a piercing whisper: 'My dear, let us not expose your little imposture before these good, plain people' - he gave a conspiratorial glance to the last remnants of the crowd - 'let us not spoil their innocent pleasure. We know, you and I, that this is all t-t-terrible t-t-tripe. Let us go, before we offend the connoisseurs. I know of a louche little bar quite near here. Let us go there and talk of your other c-c-conquests.'


Phil said...

I wondered how you were going to make a 'Brideshead Moment' out of this - I'm glad you did, and with such style! :-)

Anonymous said...

Love it!

gemoftheocean said...

Thanks P&J....I've made the comment years back on re: horrid musicals, but if the shoe fits...

;-D Not only did it fit, but there's enough shoes to stock a shoe store.

The fun part was trying to find the exact moment with a suitable look of disdain on "Antoine's" face.

I thought just that little careful look around the room with the extended hand towards Charles was perfect.

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