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giggling in the shrubbery

Arthur Marshall nearly killed me a few minutes ago.

I was sitting at the kitchen table, eating a delicious bagel (a real imported New York bagel, of course, not the mockery of a sham sort of bap that passes for a bagel in many places on this side of the Atlantic) slathered in M&S smoked salmon and cream cheese, reading Arthur Marshall's Giggling in the Shrubbery. This is a very entertaining book edited by Mr Marshall in which real-life women reminisce about their boarding school days, and it's full of highly amusing anecdotes with some typically hilarious commentary by the editor.

So there I was, chomping away merrily and enjoying the book, when I reached the following passage in the chapter in which old girls remembered their headmistresses:
[Our headmistress], unusually in those days, eschewed the wearing of a brassiere. After I had left a few of the senior girls went to tea with her, after which she leant back, stretched and admired the view with a cry of "Oh girls, look at the tits!" Such was the coarsening of the young ladies by then that they did not immediately look at the bird table.

Because I am mentally about ten, this made me laugh madly (I think it was the very idea of a headmistress enthusiastically encouraging her pupils to gaze at her bosom) - but I was punished for my vulgar sniggers, because I inhaled a bit of bagel, and it seemed to get stuck in my throat, and of course I started to choke. And as I coughed away, eyes watering like mad, I thought, "oh God, imagine if this is how I die - laughing at a joke about tits!"

But as you can see, I survived (OR DID I? Perhaps I am writing this from beyond the grave! No, I'm not, I'm writing it in the sitting room), so the late Mr Marshall (or rather, the woman who contributed that story to the book) need not bear responsibility for my untimely demise. But perhaps I should avoid reading funny books while dining in the future.

Comments

( 6 comments — Leave a comment )
anglaisepaon
May. 6th, 2005 01:02 am (UTC)
Hee! Because it's so normal and insane and funny, best post I've seen in weeks. And I'm so buying that book.
stellanova
May. 6th, 2005 08:35 am (UTC)
Hee! And you should get hold of anything you can by Arthur Marshall, because he's absolutely wonderful. Some of his books can be got quite cheaply online. I recommend his collection Girls will be Girls, which collects the reviews of girls' school stories he wrote for the New Statesman from hte '30s to the '60s - it's just incredibly, incredibly funny. barsine gave it to me for Christmas a few years ago and it was one of the best presents I've ever received.
glitzfrau
May. 6th, 2005 09:57 am (UTC)
Awww Anna, I miss you.
stellanova
May. 6th, 2005 01:38 pm (UTC)
The feeling is very mutual!
leedy
May. 6th, 2005 10:24 am (UTC)
Such was the coarsening of the young ladies by then that they did not immediately look at the bird table

Ok, that nearly did me an injury as well, though mine was inhaling-coffee-related.
stellanova
May. 6th, 2005 01:38 pm (UTC)
You really have to read some Marshall. I love him.
( 6 comments — Leave a comment )

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