Sunday, 4 October 2015
October 1929 seen through filmy organza, a body is found on the encaustic tiles. Suspects include coach, ballboy, flapper, and tennis heroine with deadly backhand of sheerest organza. Detective Inspector Jack Robinson, his voice silken organza, interrogates dodgy journalists, sees through their organza defences. While, typically, the Honourable Miss Phryne Fisher reads the social fabric: motive, identity, desire, clue. She has an eye for prospective organza, even when her eyes are all for the well-suited policeman. A second body complicates things. The composed Miss Dorothy Williams unexpectedly makes her feelings transparent as best organza. I won’t give the story away.
Saturday, 3 October 2015
Christina Rossetti opens with “What is pink? A rose is pink / By the fountain’s brink” then answers for other colours, before her punchline, “What is orange? Why, an orange / Just an orange!” It’s a favourite recital in primary schools, come October. How does the emphasis fall? Simply by her naming it we see the fruit, but since when was it just an orange, this marvel of segmented mouthfuls and sun-brightened rind, this ball of goodness? Victorian science reduced everything to types, its Gradgrind demand for facts turning everything into just oranges. Rossetti rebels, she questions, she mocks Rousseau.
Thursday, 1 October 2015
At Melbourne University I studied Anglo-Saxon, including the aenigma (Latin) or riddles (English) in the Exeter Book. It was formative. These charming mnemonics describe something without naming it, the principle self-evident. After October 1976 I started making up riddles of my own, including this early example in, understandably, eight lines: “His eyes see a thousand nights, / His numerous flesh shifts shades. / His paths make rubbery figures, / His clouds are fluid departure. / His progress is slopping cartwheels, / His form an animate bagpipes. / His coat of arms wrap water, / His sky is flocked with hulls.”