Americanisms (was RE: Sorcery and Cecilia and Desert Island books)

minnow at minnow at
Mon Jan 17 15:35:24 EST 2005

Gili explained,

>Minnow wrote:
>>The fiendish Gili remarked:


>>John and Barbara are both old enough to walk, aren't they?  I suspect that
>>Mary Poppins might have had a "bassinet" for a baby; that's a wicker
>>basket, on wheels when it's for out-of-doors, or a very young child's cot
>>or crib inside the nursery just sitting on the bed.

>Well, they'd be over 70 wouldn't they, given than "Mary Poppins" was
>published in 1934.

They might by this time have given up walking again, if they had any
problems with their legs.  (Yes, all right.)

>But, at least in the first book in the series, they can't
>yet walk, and are definitely pushed around in a perambulator. In my copy of
>"Marry Poppins" - and "Armada Lions" paperback - the perambulator is
>mentioned several times in the chapter "Bad Tuesday". Then there's baby
>Annabelle, whom I didn't even remember, and it seems there's room enough in
>the perambulator for all three of them: darnit, just lost my place in the
>book and I can't find the quote again. But anyway, perambulator is the sort
>of word I wouldn't even know if it weren't in a book, and for me it's very
>strongly associated with Mary Poppins.

I have to make the shocking confession that I have only seen small bits of
the film, and read the first book when I was quite young and simply didn't
take to it.  So I had, as you suggest in your other post, simply forgotten
the names of the older bratlets.

If you say that it was called a perambulator in the book I will certainly
not argue: I'd thought of Mary Poppins as being an older book than that,
I'm not sure quite why.  If it was anything like the perambulator my
ma-in-law tried to persuade me to inherit, there would have been room in it
for at *least* three children under three, plus the elder ones if they got
tired of walking; that thing was like a humvee for the infantry.  It was
called "carriage-built", and I suspect that it had been designed by
somebody who'd had to give up on the idea of having it towed around by four
horses with hairy ankles only with the Utmost Reluctance: it weighed about
an imperial ton, and had springs like those on a stagecoach circa 1814
connecting the wheels to the chassis -- and the wheels were about the size
you'd expect on a standard bicycle, but with solid rubber tyres instead of
pneumatic ones.  Given a team of sherpas to manhandle it, it would have
made it up to at least second camp on Everest quite regardless of terrain,
and possibly to the summit.  I wouldn't have dared shorten its name to
"pram": it might have gnashed its hood and *eaten* me.


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