Friday 24 July 2009

Crashaw’s Diary (part i)

The story so far: Philip Crashaw is the Curate to the Rev. Arthur Jenkins in a Country Parish in Dorset. The year is 1870.

Friday, 22 July
All afternoon a joke seemed to hover just beyond my grasp, almost like a fairy thing. It was there in the room with me, yet I could not see it. It danced in the corners of my eyes. I even drew the curtains at one point and sat there with my eyes closed, as I imagined Milton might have done in the throes of composition. In the end, I had to resign myself to Sunday’s sermon not having a joke in it.

After tea I walked out into the garden. The hollyhocks tall and lovely, over-towering the dark hedge, and a little cloud over the woods. The sky all burnished and golden. And there it was! The joke I had been searching for so assiduously all afternoon. As if it was a thing of the garden, to be plucked by the hand! What a strange thing inspiration is!

Sunday, 24 July
After lunch Mr Jenkins, that dear kind man, asked me to come to his study. Very sweetly he broached the subject of my propensity to make jokes. Sermons not the natural home of jokes, he suggested. I suspect he felt as uncomfortable as I did, and we fell silent for a while. We discussed the importance of a man in my position having a hobby. The intimate study of Nature, for instance, or the keeping of a Journal. He was concerned that if I gave in to my tendency to make puns, there was a danger that it might become a compulsion. I agreed, and said I wondered how to cure it.

The yellow rim of the old moon trembling above the dark wood. Stars.

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