The First To Finish

This fine, sunny, morning didn’t go quite according to plan. When settling an electricity bill on line, I discovered a banking problem which took about an hour to reach a real person on the telephone who informed me that it could be resolved by another department which was only available on weekdays. Watch further space.

My first task had been to recreate the watering can station. Regular readers will be aware that this is situated outside the stable door looking towards the Head Gardener’s favourite view. What has perhaps not been apparent is that the makeshift platform has been constructed of now crumbling IKEA wardrobe sections balanced on two lidless dustbins. It metaphorically fell upon me to retrieve a plastic fold-up table from behind a more substantial wooden one laden with plant pots behind the garden shed. When I rescued the originally flat-packed furniture a leg literally fell on me. I then had the job of reassembling it, clearing away the delapidated materials, and, with help from Mrs Knight, setting it in place. Jackie then washed and scrubbed it and

arranged her cans.

Wikipedia tells us that In 1998,[2] the Modern Library ranked Point Counter Point 44th on its list of the 100 best English-language novels of the 20th century.[3]

‘The novel’s title is a reference to the flow of arguments in a debate,[3] and a series of these exchanges tell the story.[4] Instead of a single central plot, there are a number of interlinked story lines and recurring themes (as in musical “counterpoint“).[5] As a roman Γ  clef,[6] many of the characters are based on real people, most of whom Huxley knew personally, such as D. H. LawrenceKatherine MansfieldSir Oswald MosleyNancy Cunard, and John Middleton Murry, and Huxley is depicted as the novel’s novelist, Philip Quarles.[7]

After lunch I finished reading my 1958 Folio Society edition of this work, originally published thirty years earlier. The book is illustrated with imaginatively composed exquisite line drawings by Leonard Rosoman which capture the mood of the cast and their period.

The jacket incorporates one of the

full page illustrations

Prolific writer Huxley was acknowledged as a pre-eminent intellectual of his time. Indeed, this beautifully written book is an example of his fascination with the tensions between passion and reason particularly in matters of love, politics, and religion. The characterisation is complex and well constructed in fluid language. Intellectual he may have been, but he also understood the passions of the human body and soul. Evidence of the author’s learning unobtrusively enhances the text.

Occasionally I have come across a copy of a book which bears uncut corners making pages inaccessible without a blade – in this a case a Stanley. As I performed the necessary surgical procedure I reflected that I must have been the first, after all these years, to have finished reading this copy. There was no appendix.

Elizabeth visited later this afternoon and was able to join us for a second sitting of yesterday’s spicy lamb Jalfrezi and pilau rice with the addition of plain parathas.. My sister drank Hop House lager; my wife drank Hoegaarden; and I drank Valle Central Reserva Privada Syrah 2019.

Published by derrickjknight

I am an octogenarian enjoying rambling physically and photographing what I see, and rambling in my head as memories are triggered. I also ramble through a lifetime's photographs. In these later years much rambling is done in a car.

102 thoughts on “The First To Finish

  1. I just have to ask, why do you need so many watering cans? Do you fill them all at once and then wheelbarrow them out to the various pots that need watering? I’ve always wondered how you can keep so many lovely pots alive – perhaps I am about to discover your trick.

    SO interesting to hear about the book pages needing to be surgically parted. I have never seen that. And – yes – after all that time, the book has finally been read! Very cool.

    1. Thanks very much, Jodie. There are so many hanging baskets and pots. In the height of the summer they have to be watered twice a day. Jackie sits and fills them all up then we each take them round by hand. I take two at a time to the far end of the garden. Jackie often spends an hour or more a day. I do rather less.

      1. Ah, This is much better than my method. I take my (one) can and pull the hose as far as I can get and keep refilling it and walking back and forth. THings do not get watered enough due to my impatience with my system.

  2. That’s a lot of watering cans! In Maine we are in such a drought that I haven’t dared water the gardens in quite a while. Our water comes from a well. So far it has never gone dry, but I worry.

  3. I wonder if these cans, when everyone has gone to bed and the night is silent, argue with each other. Point counterpoint. Who makes the flowers grow the best with the water from their cans? Just teasing. I am really impressed with your book review and with your ability to read this book with what seems to be tiny print that my poor eyes would not be able to handle now.

  4. Thanks for the terrific book review. I’ve never read the book, but now it’s definitely on my list. Thanks for sharing, Derrick. And yeah, the array of watering cans is pretty impressive.

  5. How cool to get a book with uncut pages! Wow
    And what year was this published? You said the wiki article was 1998 – and I assume the book is much older

    Also – how many watering cans?? I counted almost 20

  6. And Norm thought I had a lot of watering cans! I only have 6 and 2 of those only holds 500mls.

    I love old books. Sounds like an interesting read. Uncut corners? WOW. I’m glad the author doesn’t know.

  7. I am curious on two counts. What is the story behind the toe of the shoe nudging the face of the sleeping? dead? man. And, why so many watering cans? Is it so you can fill them all up at once and just come back for another one without having to stop mid-watering to fill the cans? Why not just use a hose? Sorry. I have to ask these niggling little questions or they keep me awake at nigh.

    1. I can’t have you so troubled in the night, Judy. The man is dead. I can’t say any more because it will give the game away. We do use hoses for the beds. The cans are for pots and hanging baskets. We fill them all up before a session so we are able to water several at a time. Thanks a lot and sleep well, Judy

  8. that’s a lot of watering cans, Derrick. your beautiful garden is truly a labor of love! uncut pages is amazing! congrats for the first to read the book and what a great review! πŸ™‚

  9. The business of explaining your predicament to call centre operatives has become fraught with disasters and frustrations. It was only yesterday I had to battle with such sentient entities with regards to a seeming defective oven sold to me by a popular electronic company. I wish you luck with the bank.

    Volumes with artwork are becoming a rarity. Point Counter Point has come alive with the Folio Society Edition accompanied by high quality line art. You have whetted the appetite of your readers with your crisp introduction.

  10. I just wonder whether any of the areas of the garden could be watered using an old length of plastic guttering. It might reach fifteen or even twenty feet and couldn’t really damage the plants that were underneath it.

  11. Hope the banking issue is cleared up very soon!
    I always enjoy your book reviews….and I like that you show us the illustrations. These are amazing…good details and great expressions.
    With many watering cans it does make the work a bit lighter.
    Glad you were able to spend time with Elizabeth! πŸ™‚
    HUGS!!! πŸ™‚

  12. Gosh – what an array of watering cans! I imagined that a hosepipe would be easier until I remembered how reeling back such a long length of hose pipe is arm achingly tedious.

  13. I hope your bank issues get sorted … I always heave a sigh if I have to deal with call centres. I have to be in a comfy chair with a mug of tea, an art pad and a biscuit to face it πŸ™‚ I love your watering station … and enjoyed looking over the folio pictures during my tea break. Happy Monday Derrick and Jackie πŸ™‚

  14. The only thing that rivals uncut pages for pleasure is an onionskin for the cover, or onionskin pages with illustrations.

    I especially enjoyed this: “Evidence of the author’s learning unobtrusively enhances the text.” There’s nothing worse than a writer whose primary purpose is to impress, rather than to inform or entertain.

  15. I read Point Counterpoint in Russian (Soviet times) translation years ago. Of course, it was lacking magnificent illustrations. I have spend time enjoying precise characterization, in many cases satirical, biggifying your images, Derrick. Based on your review, I think it’s time for me to re-read it in original, as the Russian version seems sadly inadequate.

  16. Interesting to see so many watering cans. They made quite an interesting composition! I was glad to see you had enough of the left-over spicy lamb Jalfrezi and pilau rice to have another meal. It sounds delicious!

  17. HI Derrick – I remember reading Point Counterpoint in college and hadn’t thought of it since until I saw your post. I remember liking it very much. So I have a question about your watering station: what is the red watering can for, a special plant or flower? My family and I are curious!

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