Sir Arthur Quiller-Couch's last word on literary style:
For — believe me, Gentlemen — so far as Handel stands above Chopin, as Velasquez above Greuze, even so far stand the great masculine objective writers above all who appeal to you by parade of personality or private sentiment.
Mention of these great masculine "objective" writers brings me to my last word: which is, "Steep yourselves in them: habitually bring all to the test of them: for while you cannot escape the fate of all style, which is to be personal, the more of catholic manhood you inherit from thsoe great loins the more you will assuredly beget.
Mmm. Steep me in those manly catholic loins.
Notes: 1) It's pronounced "Cooch". 2) Q was his nom de plume. 3) From "On Style", the last in a series of lectures delivered at Cambridge University, 1913-14, and collected as On the Art of Writing (1916).
Apparently, our shabby street is now one of the coolest addresses in London - word has even spread to America - and the noisy pub on the corner is the place where the beautiful people go (I can think of a better word for them).
It seems that, willy-nilly, I am on my way to becoming one of these beautiful people. Further evidence arrives in the shape of Timmy - pictured above, on the landing outside my office: I thought I was buying into a world of flat-caps, racing pigeons and carefully nursed halves of mild, but it turns out that whippets are deeply fashionable, and I may as well have got myself a waxed moustache and a fixed-gear bike. Bugger.
On the bright side, Timmy seems to make everybody in our house happier. As I write, he is curled up at my feet, darting occasional glances of love and hunger at me. Who would not melt?
They're barely visible in this photograph, but Timmy has some of the markings J. R. Ackerley describes on the face of his Alsatian bitch in My Dog Tulip:
"...Jet, too are the rims of her amber eyes, as though heavily mascara'd, and the tiny mobile eyebrow tufts that are set like accents above them. And in the midst of her forehead is a kind of Indian caste-mark, a black diamond suspended there, like the jewel on the brow of Pegasus in Mantegna's 'Parnassus', by a fine dark thread, no more than a pencilled line, which is drawn from it right over her poll midway between the tall ears. A shadow extends across her forehead from either side of this caste-mark, so that, in certain lights, the diamond looks like the body of a bird with its wings spread, a bird in flight."
His eyes remind me of Chaplin's, a resemblance that tells you more about Charlie than it does about Timmy. It hard to describe a dog's character without drifting into anthropomorphism, but I would say that Timmy is mostly gentle, often obedient, and surprisingly intelligent, so that it is easy to forget, at least for a few moments, how exclusively doggy his real interests are: other dogs' bottoms, other dogs' shit, chasing and killing small animals, eating anything that can be detached from the pavement. His personal habits are revolting, but their logic and simplicity are pleasing. The best thing is watching him sprint through the park, the muscles distinct under his fur; Michaelangelo would have enjoyed drawing him.