Elbows in Hell

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Above image of me by David Welham ten or so years ago.

William Thackeray: A Little Dinner at Timmins’s

“Mr and Mrs Fitzroy Timmins live in Lilliput Street, that neat little street which runs at right angles with the Park and Brobdingnag Gardens. It is a very genteel neighbourhood, and I need not say they are of a good family.”

….and thus starts this authorial narration in cahoots with a colluded-with reader, obviously a socially satirical fable by hilarious dint of some of its human names as well as the above place names. Yet, it is far more than that; it’s a wondrous tale of a dinner party followed by an evening party in a house in Lilliput street too small to hold such functions. Even the man of the house has a study like a pantry. Yet they are social climbers, this couple with a baby, with the pervading inimical force of his mother-in-law who interferes in such functions (who “…never tired of beating, and pushing, and patting, and wapping the curtain and sofa draperies into shape in the little drawing-room.”)
And one long passage in particular, when the man of the house shops for the party at Fubsby’s cake shop, is an unmissable high point in all literature, a scene which induces him to return to this shop again and again to be served by its beautiful young ladies with whom he is infatuated, as spied on by his mother-in-law. Just soak in below just a tiny few of its other high points,…including a soup stock to die for, and not forgetting the concept of Elbows in Hell as mentioned by the butler called Truncheon!…

— “…and your table is as narrow as a bench – we can’t hold more than heighteen, and then each person’s helbows will be into his neighbour’s cheer.”

“(for going abroad is out of the question in these dreadful times).”

“Funnyman, the great wit, was asked, because of his jokes; and Mrs Butt, on whom he practises;”

“…how many spits, bangmarry pans, and stoo pans they had.”

“The baby was found sucking his boot-hooks the next day in the nursery;”

“all these accumulated miseries fall upon the unfortunate wretch because he was good-natured, and his wife would have a Little Dinner.”

***

Full context of this review: https://nemonymous123456.wordpress.com/the-penguin-books-of-the-british-short-story/

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