Thursday, 21 August 2014

land sakes; the case of the lame canary

I used to think that when Elvis sang 'land sakes alive' in I Got Stung, he had just tripped over his words in saying 'and snakes alive'. But I was reading The Case of the Lame Canary by Erle Stanley Gardner - a Perry Mason novel from 1937 - and one of the characters used the expression a couple of times ('Land sakes, I'm so excited I'm all of a tremble.'). A google indicates that it's a euphemism - American, perhaps primarily southern states - for a swear, of the kind avoiding religious swearing. Here's a stump on Wikipedia.

The Case of the Lame Canary, which I finished on Saturday morning on the sleeper to Inverness, was alright, but not sufficiently good that it made me want to read more Perry Mason. I think I've read one Perry Mason before (there are over eighty novels and short stories, according to Wikipedia; looking at the list here, the Borrowed Brunette title rings a bell).

Wednesday, 20 August 2014

the british resistance

Pat's grandfather was a steward (factor) on one of the Yorkshire estates of Lady Waechter de Grimston - and also a famous poacher on neighbouring estates.
'That fact never seemed to go against him because in the Second World War he was recruited into the British resistance. They had underground bunkers full of molotov cocktails. While the Home Guard had pitchforks, he had a sub-machine gun.
'He was the Commanding Officer of Holderness. He had a list of names and, if we were invaded, he was to go round, knock on the door, and shoot them. These were people who were suspected of having German or Nazi sympathies. The one on the top of the list was the Chief Constable of East Riding. He must have been a right-winger. Who provided the list I don't know, but he would have done it.'
- A quote from an interview-based article in the West Highland Free Press of 11 July 2014 about Pat Myhill, a former planning officer in Skye who was brought up in Yorkshire. Whether the story is true or not, who knows.

Saturday, 2 August 2014

death at the dolphin

On Monday 7 July I finished Death At The Dolphin, by Ngaio Marsh. It was okay, but it decided me to get rid of the batch of Ngaios I had on the shelf, picked up cheap and secondhand (most or all in the church where the LGQ rehearses, when they used to have a secondhand bookstall), as the last couple I've read haven't really been good enough to prioritise over other crime writers on my list. I will keep an eye out for any that get onto 'best' lists, including A Surfeit of Lampreys.