Posted Wednesday, March 5th, 2008 at 5:20 pm under books, me.

More fragments of Orwell

George OrwellI read more of Orwell over breakfast. Specifically, the As I Please articles from December 13 and December 20 1946.

A brief excerpt from the latter:

The whole point of Christmas is that it is a debauch—as it was probably long before the birth of Christ was arbitrarily fixed at that date. Children know this very well. From their point of view Christmas is not a day of temperate enjoyment, but of fierce pleasures which they are quite willing to pay for with a certain amount of pain. The awakening at about 4 a.m. to inspect your stockings; the quarrels over toys all through the morning, and the exciting whiffs of mincemeat and sage-and-onions escaping from the kitchen door; the battle with enormous platefuls of turkey, and the pulling of the wishbone; the darkening of the windows and the entry of the flaming plum pudding; the hurry to make sure that everyone has a piece on his plate while the brandy is still alight; the momentary panic when it is rumoured that Baby has swallowed the threepenny bit; the stupor all through the afternoon; the Christmas cake with almond icing an inch thick; the peevishness next morning and the castor oil on December 27th—it is an up-and-down business, by no means all pleasant, but well worth while for the sake of its more dramatic moments.

Teetotallers and vegetarians are always scandalized by this attitude. As they see it, the only rational objective is to avoid pain and to stay alive as long as possible. If you refrain from drinking alcohol, or eating meat, or whatever it is, you may expect to live an extra five years, while if you overeat or overdrink you will pay for it in acute physical pain on the following day.


And apropos. I was out drinking red wine and having a great time on Monday night. Then last night I was invited to a dinner and so finally got to spend some time talking to Jeff Jonas after we’d spent the last year missing each other at various places.

Me: I bet you were always the class clown at school.
Jeff: School??? I didn’t go to school.

Point conceded.

We were in a fancy fish restaurant. So I ordered the filet mignon, done rare. It was a large unadorned cube of semi-cold meat. I thought briefly of all the warnings against eating too much red meat, and tucked right in.

I’m still making my way deliberately slowly through Orwell’s essays. I’m halfway through the final volume. There’s something like 2200 pages in total. I probably read just 5 to 10 pages at a time. That means I get to sit down to pleasures like the above hundreds and hundreds of times. Who would you rather share breakfast with?

That’s all for now. It’s somehow wrong to blog so imperfectly and so soon after reading As I Please.