Went down town yesterday, to deliver a bottle of homebrew to the Evening Star where Terry would be able to pick it up. Promised him a bottle some weeks ago, and I was down to the last two bottles when I realised there was a degree of urgency.
There’s a regular in the Star who sells books from tables on Trafalgar Street, just below the station. On his stall I saw an old paperback of Thelwell cartoons. On the cover there is a pony being startled at a waterjump by a penguin in the water. I had to buy it – let me tell you why. As a kid one of my favourite cartoons was by Thurber. It showed two ladies seated in armchairs and talking. Nearby there is a penguin, just standing there. One lady says to the other, “I don’t know, George got it somewhere.” Still love the idea of penguins out of place.
Having delivered the bottle it seemed natural to have a pint. A pint of The Art of Darkness – a hoppy black beer from Dark Star – met the need. I sat, sipped and started reading Portnoy’s Complaint by Philip Roth. No mention of penguins, but, on page 33 (of my Penguin edition) his mother shouts to our junk-food eating hero (who is locked in the bathroom) “Hamburgers . . . . . where they can put anything in the world in that they want . . .”. Published in 1967 and the message has not got through yet. Mind you the chances of anyone turning to Portnoy’s Complaint for dietary advice seems pretty slim.