I have been tagged for a meme by the always-crunchy Aren, and I know exactly what my image is going to be, but I want to sit with my ideas about that post for a while longer, so in the meantime, I'm going to post the three passages that have been keeping me going throughout marking season (here assembled under the heading 'Three Ways To Get A 2:2'):
1. Diana Wynne Jones, from A Tale of Time City:
"Haven't you done any translating either?"
"I've done some," Vivian admitted.
"Let's hear it then." Dr Wilander leaned back and lit his pipe with a tap of one huge finger on its bowl, as if he expected to be listening for the next hour or so.
Vivian looked miserably at her few lines of crossed out and rewritten green writing. "One large black smith threw four coffins about," she read.
"Oh, did he?" Dr Wilander said placidly. "To show off his strength, I suppose. Carry on."
"So that they turned into four very old women," Vivian read. "One went rusty for smoothing clothes. Two went white in moderately cheap jewellery. Three of them turned yellow and got expensive and another four were dense and low in the tables--"
"So now there were ten coffins," Dr Wilander said. "Or maybe ten strange elderly ladies. Some of these were doing the laundry while the rest pranced about in cheap necklaces. I suppose the yellow ones caught jaundice at the sight, while the stupid ones crawled under the furniture in order not to look. Is there any more of this lively narrative?"
"A bit," said Vivian. "Four more were full of electricity, but they were insulated with policemen, so that the town could learn philosophy for at least a year."
"Four more old women and an unspecified number of police," Dr Wilander remarked. "The blacksmith makes at least fifteen. I hope he paid the police for wrapping themselves round the electrical old ladies. It sounds painful. Or are you implying that the police were electrocuted, thus supplying the townsfolk with a valuable moral lesson?"
"I don't know," Vivian said hopelessly.
"But just what," asked Dr Wilander, "do you think your multitudes of old women were really doing?"
"I've no idea," Vivian confessed.
"People don't usually write nonsense," Dr Wilander remarked, still placidly puffing at his pipe.**
2. Douglas Adams, from The Hitch-Hiker's Guide to the Galaxy (Fit the Second):
VOGON CAPTAIN: So Earthlings I present you with a simple choice. Think carefully for you hold your very lives in your hands. Now choose: either die in the vacuum of space, or… tell me how good you thought my poem was.
FORD: I liked it
VOGON CAPTAIN: Good...
ARTHUR: Oh yes, I thought that some of the metaphysical imagery was particularly effective.
VOGON CAPTAIN: Yes?
ARTHUR: Oh…. and um, interesting rhythmic devices, too, which seemed to counterpoint the, er…
FORD: Counterpoint the surrealism of the underlying metaphor of the, um…
ARTHUR: Humanity of the er -
ARTHUR: Oh. Oh! Vogonity. Sorry. Of the poet’s compassionate soul which contrived through the medium of the verse structure to sublimate this, transcend that and come to terms with the fundamental dichotomies of the other. And one is left with a profound and vivid insight into… err…
FORD: Into whatever it was that the poem was about.
3. Diana Wynne Jones again, from Witch Week:
Simon was very cunning. He was clever. He was thoroughly suspicious of the whole thing. They were trying to catch him out somehow. The safest and cleverest thing was not to commit anything to writing. He was sure of that. On the other hand, it would not do to let everyone know how clever he had gone. It would look peculiar. He ought to write just one thing. So, after more than half an hour of deep thought, he wrote:
It took him five minutes. Then he sat back, confident that he had fooled everyone.
*Well, I have two more dissertations to second-mark, and two moderation meetings to go to, and a resubmitted essay to chase up, but last night I finished the last actual pile of stuff and drank two glasses of champagne to celebrate, so that counts.
**Dr Wilander later gives the correct translation for the passage:
The great Faber John made four containers or caskets and hid each of them in one of the Four Ages of the World. The casket made of iron, he concealed in the Age of Iron. The second, which was of silver, he hid in the Silver Age, and the third, which was pure gold, in the Age of Gold. The fourth container was of lead and hidden in the same manner. He filled these four caskets with the greater part of his power and appointed to each one a special guardian. In this way he ensured that Time City would endure throughout a whole Platonic Year.