31 January 2008

"Journalists are, as a rule, late risers. It was seldom that in England, in those night-refuges they called their homes, Shumble, Whelper, Pigge, or Corker reached the bathroom before ten o'clock."

-Evelyn Waugh, Scoop

First it was Charles and Julia, then Father Brown quotations about "a twitch upon a thread" and mercy so terrible it tore people apart to remake them. I was haunted enough by Brideshead, but I should have guessed, from colorful Sebastian, that Waugh wrote humor too. He's one of those famous authors that I knew nothing about until a year ago and now I act as if my every discovery is a newsflash. I always fall for the dead authors.

A month ago I was reading Scoop in front of the fire, feeling like we were having a very old-fashioned evening because my dad had turned off all the heat in the house and every last sibling had arrived in the living room with books and knitting. Since there are 11 of us in the house and my brother had a guest, we were all elbow-to-elbow on the couches and pushed up as close to the hearth as possible.

I was deep in Ishmelia, a fictional African nation in the throes of a communist upheaval during the 1950s, watching poor William flounder around as an accidental-overseas-correspondent. Scoop had its share of funny moments, but not that many. I was only half impressed until I found the line above.

Suddenly, it was not me or my sloth, not my late nights, not my persistent snooze-striking, not my lack of will, but my job that was to blame. Journalists are, as a rule, late risers.


Anonymous said...


chris said...

late nights? ...

Amy Stanford said...

haha, yes. of course.