Thursday 23 August 2012

Fox-Ache Hall

Algernon Swift visits his old friend, Oliver Blastet, at the magnificently dilapidated Fox-Ache Hall.  It is a peculiarity of the house that every piece of news that arrives at its master’s table is unfailingly bad and is greeted with renewed exasperation.
Breakfast comes in late and cold.  Oliver asks the meaning of this, and is told the butler has absconded with the cook.
“Ah, Fox-Ache,” Oliver mutters. 
Swift, however, discerns in his friend’s voice a hint of nostalgia – a nostalgia for all the past and ongoing despairs of Fox-Ache Hall – for the very fabric of a place where nothing ever turns to any good – for home, where the falling-apart heart is ...
And so it is as, through the day, Oliver is greeted with one piece of bad news after another 
--  the trees in the plantation have been turned to powder by a mysterious disease
-- a band of itinerant thieving librarians have stolen the rare first edition of Crotchet Castle from the library
-- the West Wing of the house has subsided so far that it is now frankly more easterly ...
to each of which Oliver replies murmuringly:
that Swift knows there is nowhere his friend would rather be than here at home at Fox-Ache Hall – where the general failing of everything is as reassuring as the arms of an old overcoat, where the call to action is faint and faraway over the heavy dark hills, and over everything hangs the dull sad ache of foxes in the wood.

Tuesday 7 August 2012


Algernon Swift tries an experiment with his natural inclinations.  He wears a shoe with a doubly thick sole on his left foot and now finds he inclines to everything to the right of him, and nothing to the left of him. 
All goes well, until he falls in with Mavis, that delectable object of his affections, who insists on walking down the street on his left side.   What to do?  The resourceful Swift solves the problem by walking backwards  slightly to her right and a few steps ahead of her, thus making his inclination towards her clearer than ever.