Wednesday, August 29, 2007

Retirement for Man About Mayfair

Sir Basil Seal, 14th Baronet of Beauchamp-Cholmondeley of St. Jennifer
(Pronounced Beechum - Chumley)

Man About Mayfair R.I.P.

Well, over my holiday I gave some thought to blogs and blogging in an effort to decide if I wanted to continue, or fade gracefully into retirement. A part of me enjoys the blog and has wonderful fun messing about with it, but another part, hovering in the back of my mind, finds it all so silly and childish...Of course, then I remember that I am silly and childish, so there you go...I also have been writing the blog, in fits and starts, for four or five years now, and if the truth be told, I'm running out of things to talk about, so I need to spread them out a bit more.

I have been working diligently to weed out the readers here, in order to get down to that very discriminating and elite few. I think that I have been somewhat successful, if those blog stats things mean anything. So, I wanted to let the elite know that although Man About Mayfair is being retired, Sir Basil will still be working full time for Mr. and Mrs. P over at PP. I just realized that that's a lot of Ps...Anyway you must all go there faithfully each day with high hopes of hearing from me, Sir Basil Seal. Mrs. P does such a wonderful job of running a blog, and because it bores me to tears to do so, I think it best to let her handle that end of it, and I will just try to come up with as much asinine drivel as I can, and be a complete and utter snob there, instead of here.

So this is really not goodbye, just a see you later somewhere else...Thanks to everyone who has stopped by and left rude comments. I am sure they were deserved. And don't forget to visit me at my new home, Patum Peperium...Visit daily, hourly, just make it your homepage. I will see you there. And address all rude comments to Mrs. P, she's used to it. Thank you.

Sir Basil Seal

Friday, August 24, 2007

Sharp claws, warm heart...

Elizabeth Taylor (1912-1975)
English Novelist

While Mrs. P was going on about excellent women and things of that nature, it brought to my mind Elizabeth Taylor. No, no, the other one, the novelist. Never heard of her? Well, that's not surprising, Benjamin Schwarz writes that "she is best known for not being better known". Part of the group of mid-20th-century women fiction writers like Rose Macaulay, Ivy Compton-Burnett, Sylvia Townsend Warner, Rosamond Lehmann and Barbara Pym, to name a few, who dealt with the domestic lives of middle and upper-middle-class women. She is considered to be one of the hidden treasures of the English novel. Her shrewd but affectionate portrayals of middle-class English life won her a discriminating audience but she never quite got the recognition she deserved during her lifetime. Noted for her precise use of language and scrupulously understated style, her enthusiasts have been as tireless as they have been unsuccessful in securing for her what Kingsley Amis called "her due as one of the best English novelists born in this century".

Like Austen, to whom she is most often compared, Taylor led a very tame and parochial life. She eschewed publicity and the London literary scene and, of course, her name obviously didn't help. She was the epitome of the upper-middle-class-housewife novelist. Of course, what she wrote about became terribly out of fashion during the time she wrote it, not exactly the stuff of the Angry Young Men. Elizabeth Jane Howard hailed her as one of the 20th century's most unfairly underread and underappreciated authors. But no one seems to have been able to influence whoever or whatever it is that decides who gets canonized and who doesn't.

But, as luck would have it, some of her books are still in print, courtesy of the UK publishing house Virago. If excellent women are your thing, there are none more excellent than she. As Mr. Schwarz notes: "...with her cool style, flexible and sharp-edged, she shunned sentimentality; her assessments were disconcertingly no-nonsense..." She had, as Angus Wilson said, "sharp claws" but a "warm heart". Look into it, when you find the time.

Thursday, August 23, 2007

Happy Birthday Mr. Cuppy

Will Cuppy (August 23,1884-September 19,1949)
American Humorist

The Decline and Fall of Practically Everybody, one of the funniest books ever written, was penned by Will Cuppy. The fact that he is virtually unknown today goes to show how messed up today is. From Indiana and a graduate of the University of Chicago, Cuppy was a staple of the New Yorker during the 30s and 40s, and wrote his weekly column "Light Reading" for the New York Herald Tribune for 23 years. A wonderfully funny writer, he should be more well known, and of course more often read. Thankfully most of his books are still in print and available. Get some today. Happy Birthday Will Cuppy...

  • Books
    • (1951) How to Get from January to December, New York: Holt. Edited by Fred Feldkamp. Illustrations by John Ruge.
    • (1950) The Decline and Fall of Practically Everybody, New York: Holt. Edited by Fred Feldkamp. Illustrations by William Steig.
    • (1949) How to Attract the Wombat, New York: Rinehart.
    • (1944) The Great Bustard and Other People (containing How to Tell Your Friends from the Apes and How to Become Extinct), New York : Murray Hill Books.
    • (1941) How to Become Extinct, New York: Farrar and Rinehart. Illustrations by William Steig.
    • (1931) How to Tell Your Friends from the Apes, New York: Horace Liveright, Inc. Introduction by P. G. Wodehouse. Illustrations by "Jacks."
    • (1929) How to Be a Hermit, New York: Horace Liveright.
    • (1910) Maroon Tales, Chicago: Forbes & Co..
  • Books, edited
    • (1946) Murder Without Tears: An Anthology of Crime, New York: Sheridan House.
    • (1943) World's Great Detective Stories: American and English Masterpieces, New York, Cleveland: World.
    • (1943) World's Great Mystery Stories: American and English Masterpieces, New York, Cleveland: World.

As someone famous once said: I'm back...

Yes, I am back, and though not necessarily with bells on, back none the less. I had a delightful summer holiday in Blighty and on the continent, and I am in the process of unpacking books and generally getting settled back into life in these, less than united states...I have much scribbled in my trusty Moleskine, which I am waiting, wanting and willing to tell you...So, if you are the patient sort, meaning at least over sixty, I will be with you in a moment. For the rest, you'll have to continue playing with your bean pod, or whatever it is...I will have some things for you all presently, and I will send some of the more highly polished (meaning naughty) ones over to Mrs. P...Oh, the fun we'll have now that I'm here...Until then...

Sir Basil Seal

Friday, June 15, 2007

Speaking with Sir Basil Seal

Of late I have been in Dublin doing a series of interviews with the delightful Miss Nolagirl. Am having an enjoyable time, although sitting comfortably now seems to be a problem. Anyway, you can read the transcripts here...

Miss Nolagirl, I will be back in Dublin later in the summer. I will be staying at the Merrion and will meet you in St. Stephen's Green by the Wolf Tone statue. You'll know me, I'll be the one with the hat. Maybe we can catch Mass at the Pro-Cathedral? Until then...

Monday, May 21, 2007

Moving, sort of...

I have been invited by the editor of a famous web zine to write a column on pretty much anything I want. Don't ask me why, I have no idea...Pity, I suppose. Nice work if you can get it. Therefore, since I am now a famous person, I have no time for the likes of you...I invite my 2.5 readers to follow me to Patum Peperium to read me and a highly select group of other columnists as well...So, please catch Sir Basil Seal over at his new home and please do not loiter about here while I'm away.

Friday, May 4, 2007

Waiting upon the Queen...

I have been called upon to wait upon my Queen while she and the Prince Consort visit this ghastly country. As you may be aware, they are in the Commonwealth of Virginia, where it seems gunfire may be directed in her direction at anytime, if the habits of the locals are any indication. Seeing that there would be little chance of any locals actually helping or fighting back, other than possibly sending Her Majesty an email, she felt it prudent to call upon her Knights of the Realm and other assorted noblemen to provide support and be prepared to return fire. The Queen will be visiting Jamestown where she will be shown the myriad ways that her subjects oppressed, and otherwise hurt the feelings of, the naked savages they found loitering about the place and the African slaves they brought along with them. We, of course, could not give a rip, seeing that oppression has always been a real Englishman's business. Lucky for you that there are only about five of us left. But I'll bet we could still oppress you if we could find a good tailor in this Godforsaken place...If one must oppress, then one should always do so in style...Anyway, that is why I have been away, and am still away...After seeing Her Majesty safely back to Albion, I will return to whatever it was I was talking about before. Thank you.

Sir Basil Seal