Friday, 27 February 2009

the all-time greatest diary entry...*

It's in the Duff Cooper Diaries (read them):
September 11, 1919
A wonderfully hot day. I met Felix Elston at lunch with Diana. I hadn't seen him for years. He seemed in no way altered by having murdered Rasputin...

Readers of match reports may remember me mentioning this, but maybe not everyone believes that the match reports are better than the blog because of weird anti-sports prejudice, and I think it would be cruel to deprive them of this diary entry.

Also, it would be cruel to deprive them of the knowledge that Elston is responsible for the disclaimer on the start of films saying that what is depicted is not real (he got a big payment from MGM after winning a libel case based on Rasputin and the Empress). I was told this fact by John. Good historians acknowledge their sources. So do I.

*...that I have read.

Thursday, 26 February 2009

i don't normally...

...draw attention to today's PRAVDA headline,* but 'intellectual arms' is funny. It means something to do with nanotechnology as far as I can tell.

* Because these headlines obviously change. For some future historian trying to work out what I am going on about, the relevant headline was: 'Today in Pravda: Russia to update its entire nuclear arsenal and introduce intellectual arms by 2020'

i would love to show you...

...the cover of the proof copy of my book but I think that wouldn't be very professional. It is entirely unlike the mock-ups I had seen, which was a surprise, but a good one on the whole. Who knows what happens now.

It was quite exciting to hold the book. It totally looks like a book.

Wednesday, 25 February 2009

to allow a notorious convict to escape from a fortress prison by helicopter once is unfortunate...

'Letting him pull off the same stunt twice would be downright careless. Yet that is exactly what happened in Athens yesterday as Greece's most famous prisoner - and jail breaker - flew to liberty for a second time, leaving guards firing desperately into the air and officials scratching their heads in disbelief.'

This is a really funny story. The dimwitted guards firing pointlessly into the air and their feet would make a great movie scene.

Tuesday, 24 February 2009

as always, delafield deleterious...

... to my prose style, which takes on loads of Delafieldian ticks without rising to Delafieldian heights. I even think in Delafield when I'm reading The Provincial Lady, which is why I can only look at it when I am miles away from writing important prose.

This time through, I am particularly enjoying the silent husband, Robert, with whom I naturally identify. For instance:
Robert writes briefly, but adds P.S Isn't it time I thought about coming home again? which I think means he is missing me, and feel slightly exhilarated.

and
Doughty Street left behind, yellow-and-white dust-sheets amply sufficing for entire flat, and Robert meets me at station. He seems pleased to see me but says little until seated in drawing-room after dinner, when he suddenly remarks that He has Missed Me. Am astonished and delighted, and should like him to enlarge on theme, but this he does not do, and we revert to wireless and The Times.

and, after quizzing Robert to little avail as to what he thought of old beau and old beau's new wife
Make final enquiry as to what I looked like last night, and whether Robert thinks that eighteen years makes much difference in one's appearance?
Robert, perhaps rightly, ignores the last half of this, and replies to the former - after some thought - that I looked just as usual, but he doesn't much care about that green dress. Am sufficiently unwise to press for further information, at which Robert looks worried, but finally admits that, to his mind, the green dress makes me look Tawdry.
Am completely disintegrated by this adjective, which recurs to me in the midst of whatever I am doing, for the whole of the remainder of the day.

further thoughts on ants

In consultation with top local statistical expert*, here is the news:

- It is not very surprising that the internet relentlessly quotes 'a quadrillion' as the total number of ants in the world, because this is how the internet works. A 'fact' like this can become a piece of received data by being referenced on Wikipedia, then becoming the answer to the question on things like google and wikianswers, and then, by the nature of Google prioritising things attracting lots of links, becomes a default which is difficult to assail.

(- This is also, loosely, how all received wisdom works, from urban legends to the common mistakes pointed out, often slightly unfairly, by QI.)

- This is not to say the ant stat is wrong. But the original stat comes with a potential error of a degree of magnitude, which is a huge potential error, and so the stat should never be quoted as one single number.

- It is perfectly possible not to know something like this to within a degree of magnitude. Most ants are in places where we can't count them, even with a magnifying glass and whole bag of abacuses. There's probably an ant in your house right now and you don't even know. And don't talk to me about the jungle.**

- Also, the people who could count them most expertly don't have the money to do so, and might not be all that interested. They have other questions that they want to answer about ants, for some reason.

*Local statistical expert not responsible for any errors in this post.
**Yes, yes, this was a bad Cuppy impression.

Monday, 23 February 2009

the trouble with trimble

This post only exists as a function of my irritation that I didn't use its title for either of the previous posts.

ahead of curve

With ref to below. It turns out that I shouldn't have been waiting all week to post this on the day of the University Challenge final because GT is in every paper this morning. You have probably read the below thirty times in other places now, but it holds good. Still, I am sorry for being boring. It's like a disease.

It just goes to show you can't be too careful.

go, gail trimble

'Who the hell?' I hear you cry. Well, Gail Trimble is a girl at Corpus Christi College, Oxford, and she has been brilliant in University Challenge. She is a pleasant looking student who looks very much like a girl doing classics at Oxford who might be in the choir. She is engaging, and she is pleased when she gets a question right, because it's a game and that's the object. Because the world is full of lunatics, some people hate her for this with a splenetic fury that defies rational explanation and makes me hate them with a splenetic fury that is perfectly explicable using reason.

Fine if they just hated her, but they go on websites and forums and bellow incoherently into the empty ether about how she is a smug, posh bitch, and this is the sort of thing the nice ones say. Except it isn't an empty ether. When we call someone a bitch online, they find out about it. If Gail Trimble is human, she knows all about the unfathomable bile, and if it doesn't upset her, she isn't human, however much she understands the misplaced envy of people that can't bear the fact that she's good at quizzes, and she's a girl, and she speaks in RP.

My friend Jon has started a group which hopes to drown out some of the forum lunatics with a small, steady stream of banality. You can find out about it here.

In the meantime, Corpus Christi are in the University Challenge final tonight. If you don't care about quizzes, don't watch. But don't hate people just for being good at them, you weirdos. Go Gail.

It just goes to show you can't be too careful.

sports night

I want to be Dan Rydell* off of Sports Night, basically. (This bit sets up this bit, for instance.) Last night, re-saw the episode Eli's Coming. When Dan was little, he thought that in the song, Eli's Coming, Eli was something bad, and even though Dan knows what the song is really about now, his childish understanding of the song has never left him. It's how I think of the song too, since Sports Night was my first encounter with it.

Here it is being 'sung' by Three Dog Night. They are having a lot of fun.



* The reason I want to be Dan is not that his eyebrows are weirdly far apart. I wonder if it is because his eyebrows naturally are very close together, if there are even two of them.

Sunday, 22 February 2009

how many ants are there?

I don't know, and I bet ants don't, but you'd have thought that someone would. I am about to conduct an enquiry in real time, and my starting point is a page on biomass on Wikipedia which says (currently) that there between 10 to the power 7 and 10 to the power 8 billion ants, weighing between 900 and 9000 million tons. This seems a very broad church, even for something as hard to count as ants.

OK. On Google Answers, a Harvard ant expert called EO Wilson says there are between 10 to the power 16 and 10 to the power 17. Is that the same as the above? Yup, if you do american billions with nine noughts. So we have a generally quoted answer, but that zero makes a real difference.

The source given in both cases is the 1983 book, Collection of Amazing Animal Facts by Joan Embury with Ed Lucaire. Pardon me if I am not reassured, since this book actually says there are a 'quadrillion ants' which is the lower of these two numbers. Which is fine, but the bigger of the two numbers gives us 8100 million more tons of ants to worry about.

Quite a lot of other websites say that ants weight something like the same as humans, but human biomass is a pathetic 100 million tons. Basically, when you are looking for answers you would be happy to quote to an alien invader who says he will kill you if you get the answer wrong, the internet is sometimes not (yet) very reassuring, because the same not very brilliantly substantiated facts turn up in all the obvious places. I am sure I could find something better if I didn't have to go and make supper. It's the story of my life.

(Which is why my fiction is unautobiographical.)

Friday, 20 February 2009

proof

Proof copies of KSC arrive next Wednesday. I slightly wish they were still titled The Killburn Social Club, as per first proofs I saw, but even so I am excited.

Bonus: great football book title: The Working Man's Ballet by seventies star Alan Hudson (or Uncle Alan, as I have taken to calling him).

hard to resist

Hard to write a really bad book about Churchill. He's just a great story. John Keegan's short one a few years ago has lots of the usual stuff. I particularly liked this bit about his minor heart attack in December 1941:
His doctor, Lord Moran, confided to his diary that the correct treatment was six weeks in bed. He recognised that to give such professional advice was impossible. The news that the prime minister had become an invalid would have a 'disastrous' effect on the war effort, 'when America had just come into the war, and there is no one but Winston to take her by the hand.' To tell Churchill the same would be equally unjustifiable, because of 'the consequences on one of his imaginative temperament of the feeling that his heart was affected. His work would suffer.' Moran therefore decided to keep professional silence and hope for the best.

Great use of discretion. Worked out alright.

When Churchill was PM again in June 1953, he suffered a serious stroke which left his left side paralysed. Lord Moran doubted he'd survive the weekend but 'over the next four months he dragged himself back to health by sheer determination. "This astonishing creature," Moran recorded, "obeys no laws, recognises no rules."' In August he was presiding over the cabinet again, and in November he was back before the House making a speech which his fellow Conservative MP Henry 'Chips' Channon described as 'brilliant, full of cunning and charm, of wit and thrusts ... it was an Olympian spectacle ... In eighteen years ... I have never seen anything like it.'

Thursday, 19 February 2009

word of day: talismen

The reliable Bob Willis on Sky Sport: 'Broad would obviously like to be one of England's talismen during the Ashes...'

(Or as near to this as makes no essential difference.)

Wednesday, 18 February 2009

knows all about 'footer' and white mice

In 1921, Gertie Maclean, 37 and part of the unmarried generation post-war, was a 'rock and a sport'. She loved children but didn't have any. She established Universal Aunts and the business took off instantly - her 'Aunts' chaperoned, looked after houses, nannied and were generally spunky. Here are some descriptions from the company's card index:
MISS PHYLLIS BECKETT
Age 30.
Young and sporty. Knows all about 'footer' and white mice. Guaranteed not to nag. Can slide down bannisters at a push. This lady will be one of our most popular Aunts and be in great demand.

MISS PANSY TRUBSHAWE
Age 32 (verging middle)
Understands cricket and foreign stamps as she has five brothers. Not much else. There will be a waiting list of preparatory school boys.

MISS HYACINTH PLUMMER
Thirties (late)
Can play Halma, Snakes & LAdders and tell moral stories. No doubt has a selection of modesty vests or chiffon roses for the front of her lower necklines.

Quite apart from anything else, these are great names. They are, basically, ready-made characters for anyone writing a novel set in the period.*

*Oops. When first posting this I forgot to mention that all this comes from the anecdotal goldmine Singled Out, by Virginia Nicholson.

Monday, 16 February 2009

plenty more fish in the sea

I am in a big hurry, so this is just the start of the answer to the questions posed two posts below, but...

- a University of British Columbia fisheries expert did the first major fish biomass estimation a couple of years ago, and came up with 0.8-2bn tons.
- as sideline info, a 2004 study suggested that microbes make up 90% of ocean biomass.
- as sideline to the above, scientists doing that study said they found 13,000 new marine species in 2004.

To all of the above, I say: crikey. I will investigate further. Stay on the edges of your seats.

Sunday, 15 February 2009

in cuppy's opinion

Swans have been studied by so many great minds through the ages that we now have quite an accumulation of nonsense about them. The Greeks said Zeus made love to Leda in the form of a swan. In my opinion that wasn't Zeus, it was only an old swan.

Saturday, 14 February 2009

fishing stats

Yes, yes, I am obsessed: in a year, the world's sperm whales eat 100m metric tons of fish, which is equivalent to the entire human marine fishery (I am pretty sure from context - Philip Hoare's Leviathan - that both numbers include squid).

Questions I should get answers to:
- what is the by-catch of the human fishery?
- what is the margin of error in the whale number?

(From Nature's Great Events: one colony of guillemots can eat 1.5m tons of arctic fish in 4 weeks. Given the above stats, this is extraordinary. How many fish are there in the sea?)

Friday, 13 February 2009

white, christian, republican americans

A bugbear: liberal Europeans slagging off American Christians as if they are ipso facto weird baddies of some kind. Their mindset is unlike almost anything we have over here, and I don't pretend to understand it or agree with how they think society should be run, but I hate people assuming I agree with them when they make American Christians the butt of lazy jokes. The Blind Side by Michael Lewis is a great book about a rich Evangelical family in Tennessee adopting a giant underprivileged black kid. I defy anyone to read it and not think the family are fundamentally good people.

One of the many amazing things about Obama's victory is that useless comedians can't say 'Americans' in a sneering voice that presumes a smug laugh of agreement. I am reading To Be President, by Ian Leslie*, and perhaps the most revealing stuff so far is about Mike Huckabee. Huckabee, the conservative preacher Republican insurgent, was the candidate presented over here as the scary alien one. And yet, after the Reverend Wright speeches (GOD DAMN AMERICA!, etc.) became public, Huckabee quickly said, 'You can't hold the candidate responsible for everything that people around him may say or do.' Then Huckabee added:
As easy as it is for those of us who are white to look back and say 'That's a terrible statement', I grew up in a very segregated south, and I think that you have to cut some slack. And I'm going to be probably the only conservative in America who's going to say something like this, but I'm just telling you: we've got to cut some slack to people who grew up being called names, being told: 'You have to sit in the balcony when you go to the movie; you have to go to the back door to go into the restaurant; there's a separate waiting room in the doctor's office; here's where you sit on the bus.' And you know what? Sometimes people do have a chip on their shoulder. And you have to just say, I probably would too. In fact, I may have had more of a chip on my shoulder had it been me.

I'm not saying Huckabee's typical - he's probably not - but it's a complicated story that people are lazy about because it gratifies their egos so to be.

*Disclaimer fans: Ian Leslie is a friend of mine.

Thursday, 12 February 2009

been a while since we had any wodehouse

Early on in Uncle Dynamite, Lord Ickenham (my favourite Wodehouse character, as I dare say I have mentioned) is trying to urge his nephew Pongo Twistleton into the arms of Sally Painter, who Lord I thinks is brilliant. Pongo says:
'Aren't you overlooking the trifling fact that I happen to be engaged to Hermione?'
'Slide out of it.'
'Ha!'
'It is what your best friends would advise. You are a moody, introspective young man, all too prone to look on the dark side of things. I shall never forget you that day at the dog races. Sombre is the only word to describe your attitude as the cop's fingers closed on your coat collar. You reminded me of Hamlet. What you need is jolly, lively wife to take you out of yourself, the sort of wife who would set booby traps for the Bishop when he came to spend the night. I don't suppose this Hermione Bostock of yours ever made so much as an apple-pie bed in her life. I'd give her a miss. Send her an affectionate telegram saying you've changed your mind and it's all off. I have a telegraph form in my study.'

Wednesday, 11 February 2009

yes, yes, it is a long song, but it is unbelievably good



I love story songs.

the nature of fear

This is from this morning's BBC transfer gossip column: 'Manchester City fear they will lose striker Daniel Sturridge at the end of the season because of the 19-year-old's huge wage demands. (Daily Mirror)' Since Manchester City offered Kaka a few hundred thousand per week, I am presuming that Sturridge must be demanding millions of pounds. Or maybe 'fear' is not quite the right word.

I am not blaming the BBC for this one, since the Mirror used 'fear'. But sportspages' and sites' cliched choices of 'powerful' words does make them look silly - Charles N'zogbia, who recently whined his way out Newcastle because he felt he wasn't getting enough respect, money and love, was repeatedly reported as having been 'rescued' from his 'Newcastle nightmare'. It's not exactly Schindler's List.

Tuesday, 10 February 2009

campaign for real history

I don't want to be boring - it's just thrust upon me.

UKTV History, or whatever it's called, used to be full of high-quality history documentaries of the Schama type. Then it started to sneak in, once in a while, historically-based dramas. Today, the running list over five hours is Poldark (drama), Metropolis (terrible, overwrought history doc of the kind the channel didn't stoop to three years ago), Reilly Ace of Spies (drama), Cambridge Spies (drama) and Antiques Roadshow (perfectly permissible on the channel, but hardly its raison d'etre).

People already have enough trouble differentiating between history (an attempt to tell the truth which understands that it is inevitably compromised and makes clear its areas of uncertainty) and drama (certainty, certainty, certainty). It makes me feel worried about writing a historical novel (which I am doing), because I don't want to make this thing worse.

Monday, 9 February 2009

community gynaecology

I was wandering around a hospital the other day. There are loads of pamphlets in hospitals. I didn't read 'Community Gynaecology', but the title certainly got me thinking.

Sunday, 8 February 2009

diaries of a provincial lady

This is the book I read most often. Here is a bit:

January 4th.- A beautiful day, very mild, makes me feel that with any reasonable luck Mrs Somers will be out, and I therefore call at the Grange. She is, on the contrary, in ... [Mrs Somers impossibly elegant mother enters] ... She is introduced to me - name sounds exactly like Eggchalk but do not think this possible - and says she knows my old school-friend Miss Crabbe, at Norwich, and has heard how very, very amusing I am. Become completely paralysed and can think of nothing whatever to say except that it has been very stormy lately. Leave as soon as possible.

(Incidentally, Spencer fans, no hockey yesterday for reasons of weather, so don't beat your fingers to the bone looking for a new match report.)

Friday, 6 February 2009

hot, nourishing cuppy

Speaking of Beetles ... [we know about] 250,000 species of Beetles and there are probably a million more waiting around to be discovered. You and I may never know the exact number of existing Beetle species and just how each one differs from all the others in physique, let alone what they do for a living and the opinions held by the individual members on things in general. I can face it if you can. We have all these species because Beetles do not know what they want. They lack any real goal in life, but they keep tinkering with themselves in the hope that something worth while may develop. They don't seem to grasp the fact that in any event they would still be Beetles.

I'm not tiring this stuff.

Thursday, 5 February 2009

i want to read

Lords of Finance, after reading this.

buy woodworm

My favourite thing about this picture on today's BBC sports website is that bessie mates Flintoff and Pietersen are proudly brandishing the Woodworm bats they used in 2005 during the Ashes, a double-act which took Woodworm from zero to hero in cricket kit manufacturing terms.

Woodworm have had some money problems, and Flintoff and Pietersen have moved on to Puma and Adidas, which are the most cynical of the big non-cricketing brands trying to horn in on cricket by sponsoring stars and sticking their labels on bats made by the few individuals who international players actually trust to make them.

(Flintoff and Pietersen were the first two batters I remember with corporate sponsors logos on the bottom of the back of their bats. When they scored fifties and tons, they carefully held these logos up for the inevitable photos. Very professional, but very vulgar. I have since seen kids holding their bats up in exactly the same unnatural way, for no reason. It is like when a child in a plain grey jumper in a park scores a goal and then thumps his chest where the team logo would be on a football shirt, thereby aping some mercenary footballer trying to curry absurd favour with his fans.)

Wednesday, 4 February 2009

how long is a piece of string?

Is a piece of spaghetti the same size as a brick? I think the BBC is amazing, blah, but lots of the copy on the website isn't good enough:
The discovery of fossilised remains belonging to the world's largest snake has been reported in Nature journal. Titanoboa was 13m (42ft) long - about the size of a London bus - and lived in the rainforest of north-east Colombia 58-60 million years ago.

trust issues


There's a good-slash-depressing-slash-scary feature on match-fixing in the Guardian today. The basic premise is that the amounts of money in sport make it very attractive to organised criminals. It says that lack of trust in results is endemic in certain parts of the world. It points out that lack of trust in results and general conspiracoid (constrasoid?) thinking would be nearly as corrosive - or as corrosive but in a slightly different way - as actual match-fixing, since sport is appealing because we think it is pure.

Because it is embarrassing I know so little about various things, I read the (it seemed to me excellent) Very Short Introduction to Economics last year, which went on and on about how trust was a fundamental precondition for the kinds of economic activity that promote growth.

Partly I am always interested in the way sport is similar to or illustrative of the wider, messier world. Partly, on a more meta level, I am interested in how and why we focus on different explanatory paradigms at different times, and at the moment we seem to be particularly concerned with trust. This doesn't mean I don't think trust is and always has been important, but there are reasons for it being the important thing we are interested in right now. Maybe it is the important thing which is currently vulnerable, after not having been for a while? I obviously do not know, but I am interested.

look, look, dates!

It took me an hour. (It should not have done, and this was not the first hour.) I hope you are satisfied. (I am.)

And I was already weary.

Tuesday, 3 February 2009

with a flourish and a heave

One of my earlier book reviews was Homage to Gaia, James Lovelock's autobiography. I loved it. Some of the writing is clumsy, Lovelock is a classic example of the kind of (good) maverick who has been told so often that he's wrong when he's right that he has makes a very strong connection between his opinion and the objective truth, but in an appealing way, because he is fundamentally a good guy. It sounds like I am patronising him. I don't mean to. Maybe it always seems patronising when you think you understand people.

Anyway, I am a big fan of James Lovelock. In Homage to Gaia, he is happy to put anything he thinks and give it a similar weight to other things he thinks, which gives it an appealing and at times very odd tone. Here is a jawdropping passage from the second last page of his book, where he rounding up what he thinks of the world. He has been taken to the resort town of Atami Springs, near Tokyo, to a 'special entertainment' selected by his hosts. He's with his wife.

Our hostess stepped onto the platform, and began her show. At first, she warmed up her audience and made them merry; then she began her special repertoire of tricks. They were some extraordinary feats involving the muscles of her va***a. First she inserted a large cork, through which was threaded a length of strong cord, and she challenged the audience to produce a champion who could draw it out. No one who tried could, and after more demonstrations like this, she moved on to her piece de resistance. She inserted a live goldfish and, with a flourish and a heave of her powerful va***al muscles, expelled it into a bowl of water on the other side of the room. She did this several times, and missed only once. Hideo told us that it had taken her years of patient practice to perfect her skill. In the West, such an exhibition might have been criticized as unseemly, but in Japan, it rated as impermanent art. Sandy and I both felt privileged to see this unusual entertainment and, as we left, the entertainer introduced herself and her proud husband. I could not help but think later, back in England, that the Tate Gallery might have done better to stage its recent Turner Prize exhibitions in Soho, as entertainment as well as art.

(I am not normally coy about swearing, though I think that if you can do without it, it is usually a good idea, but I am very proud to learn from one of my readers that I am, unusually, a blogger who is allowed through the government firewall. I am doing what I can to protect this status.)

Monday, 2 February 2009

rio on speed-dial

Rio Ferdinand edited this month's Observer Sport Monthly, up to a point. The Observer Sport Monthly is very good, and knew what they were doing (as well as having a nicely marketable idea), and the results are interesting. The two things I wish to share with anyone who hasn't read the issue are:

1. After talking to Gordon Brown, Rio says, 'Now I've got him on speed-dial on my phone. Now I can talk to him whenever I want.' My image is of him calling Gordon drunkenly (I am not saying Rio drinks - this is just my image) to seek solace and advice about a heartless girl or similar.

2. This is not specific to the OSM, since it's an advert. I know adverts are easy targets. The advert is for the BMW 3 Series Coupe. The advert uses pictures of two animals for illustration. On the left is a camel, over the words '665 miles on one tank'. Fair enough. I get what they are saying. On the other side, the picture is a cheetah. If the words were, '0-60 in 5 seconds' or whatever, again I imagine the parallel would be inexact but perfectly comprehensible and within poetic limits. But the sentence reads, '245hp'. A cheetah does not have the power of 245 horses.

Sunday, 1 February 2009

high pathetical dilemma

This is Ogden Nash, and it's very good:

The Strange Case of the Lovelorn Letter Writer

Dear Miss Dix, I am a young lady of Scandinavian origin, and I am in a quandary.
I am not exactly broody, but I am kind of pondery.
I got a twenty-five waist and a thirty-five bust,
And I am going with a chap whose folks are very uppercrust.
He is the intellectual type, which I wouldn't want to disparage,
Because I understand they often ripen into love after marriage,
But here I am all set
For dalliance,
And what do I get?
Shilly-shalliance.
Just when I think he's going to disrobe me with his eyes,
He gets up off the davenport and sighs.
Every time I let down my hair,
He starts talking to himself or the little man who isn't there.
Every time he ought to be worrying about me,
Why, he's worrying about his mother, that's my mother-in-law to be,
And I say let's burn that bridge when we come to it, and he says don't I have any sin sense,
Her uncle and her live in incense.
Well, with me that's fine,
Let them go to their church and I'll go to mine.
But no, that's not good enough for Mr. Conscience and his mental indigestion,
He's got to find two answers for every question.
If a man is a man, a girl to him is a girl, if I correctly rememma,
But to him I am just a high pathetical dilemma.
What I love him in spite of
Is, a girl wants a fellow to go straight ahead like a locomotive and he is more like a loco-might-of.
Dear Miss Dix, I surely need your advice and solace,
It's like I was in love with Henry Wallace.
Well, while I eagerly await your reply I'm going down to the river to pick flowers. I'll get some rosemary if I can't find a camellia.
Yours truly, Ophelia