Tuesday, July 18, 2006

A HANDY INSTRUMENT

"The article illustrated today (did you guess?) is a snow-gauge. There are very few of them in Ireland at present. It is made of copper, and consists of a funnel or catch-pipe for the snow, which widens inwardly, then drops eighteen inches, allowing the snow to fall into a pan beneath. A casing which can be heated with hot water surrounds the gauge and is used to melt the snow. By this arrangement the snow cannot escape; it melts and runs into the buccket beneath, where it is accurately gauged.

So what, you say. I will tell you what. There is one great advantage in having a snow-gauge on your premises. Supposing some moon-faced young man who reads Proust happens to be loitering about your house, blathering out of him about art, life, love, and so on. He is sure to have a few cant French phrases, which he will produce carefully at suitable intervals as one produces coins from a purse. Inevitably the day will come (even if you have to wait for it many years) when he will sigh and murmur:

'Mais ou sont les neiges d'antan?'

Here is your chance. This is where you go to town. Seize the nitwit by the scruff of the neck, march him out to the snow gauge, and shout:

'Right in that bucket, you fool!'

I'll bet you'll feel pretty good after that."

(from the 'Research Bureau' of Flann O'Brien, reprinted in The Best of Miles)

2 comments:

jolasuissesse said...

Does it work for a moon-faced young woman who listens to Brassens and will sing, de temps en temps, sotto voce, 'Mais où sont les neiges d'antan?'?.
If so, I suggest you get yourself a rain-gauge, Mister, before the next time I come a-loitering.

Semafor said...

I say, well worth the wait.