Date of this Version
The George Eliot Review 16 (1985)
Having been aware, for some time, that I was about to undergo what I thought would be an ordeal, but which I realise may even turn out to be an enjoyable experience, I have been looking out for ways and means of getting through my allotted time without too much difficulty. I was delighted, therefore, to observe a distinguished visitor to the Huguenot Society at a recent meeting. Evidently an experienced academic, he knew just what to do. I n the first place his lecture was written out on a great many small sheets of paper. At the end of each sheet he naturally had to turn to the next. If he required time for thought, it would turn out that the sheets were in the wrong order, and it would take some time to find the next. I was particularly taken with one unusually long pause after a sheet ending with the words 'Dr. Johnson' (it is clear that no talk with any pretensions to literary merit should fail to include at least one reference to the great Doctor). Finally, the lecturer found the next sheet and continued, as if without a pause 'Dr. Samuel Johnson .... ' I wondered what other Dr. Johnson he might have thought to have come into the· minds of his listeners!
I have to say that my talk may be rather wooden, but this should be attributed not so much to inexperience as to carpentry. Having recently moved house, and with all my books in some seventy cardboard boxes, I found it essential to build a substantial bookcase. The job was finished last Sunday morning, the necessary books were shelved by the afternoon, and 1 could then get down to looking things up.