Tuesday, December 22, 2015

A Christmas Cracker

Readers who are not disarmed
already by this year's Christ-
mas Cracker from the Mayfair
bookshop, Heywood Hill, are
welcomed to revisit previous
seasons of its writer's wis-
dom, here. The post is bound
to reach us all eventually,
with mirth of 5th Form rib-
aldry, from the perspective
of a very well-traveled ton-
gue in cheek. His Sicily, A
Short History was our runner-
up as book of the year, and
would have won, if the men-
aces commingled in its sub-
title held a candle to the
winner's merry tribe. Alas, 
mere gangsterism is not e-
nough in times of high re-
ligious dudgeon, to Cruz 
our barren dungeon as a lad-
der day saint, which is not 
the same thing (in any way)
as Gérard's rehearsal for a 
redeeming ladder day upon 
the earth. Somebody's always 
campaigning above his rank.

Each day I hesitate to
turn the key in my post
office box, in hope of
my Cracker's arrival, is
a day precariously rele-
gated to my own imagina-
tion. Mine can only wan-
der in this season, to
Norwich's adopted Venice,
and we know why: for the
perfection of the perman-
often construed as peril.

Expecting my Cracker, I'd
cite another traveler on
this necessary principle,
with an eye for simile we
value so much in Norwich,
in whom a spree of mis-
chief always bares a sim-
ple offer of delight, un-
campaigned as an embrace.

Merry wishes, in all the
ways we truly wish them.

        The music subsides; its twin, however, has risen,
        you discover upon stepping outside - not signif-
        icantly, but enough for you to feel reimbursed for 
        the faded chorale. For water, too, is choral, in
        more ways than one. It is the same water that car-
        ried the Crusaders, the merchants, St Mark's rel-
        ics, Turks, every kind of cargo, military or plea-
        sure vessel; above all, it reflected everybody who
        ever lived, not to mention stayed, in this city,
        everybody who ever strolled or waded its streets
        in the way you do now.

        Small wonder that it looks muddy green in the day-
        time and pitch black at night, rivaling the firma-
        ment .. It really does look like musical sheets,
        frayed at the edges, constantly played, coming to
        you in tidal scores, in bars of canals with innum-
        erable obbligati of bridges, mullioned windows, or
        curved crownings of Coducci cathedrals, not to men-
        tion the violin necks of gondolas.

Joseph Brodsky
Farrar, Straus & Giroux, 1992©

John Julius Norwich
  (né Cooper)
  A Short History from the
  Ancient Greeks to Cosa Nostra
John Murray, 2015©

No comments:

Post a Comment