Happenstance Gems (was Re: [DWJ] Book recommendations)

Minnow minnow at belfry.org.uk
Fri Nov 17 08:44:36 EST 2006

Charlie wondered

>I'm curious as to whether you'd include Stephen Potter's *Gamesmanship* in
>your s-s-g? That had a very good sequel in *Lifemanship*, plus two poor
>ones (*Oneupmanship* and *Supermanship*) and a dreadful spin-off,

It's definitely a candidate, you're right.  Books I don't have but am
keeping my eye out for.

Pooter might be in there too, now I come to think of it: *Diary of a
Nobody* is a one-off.  And there is a splendid book called *Augustus Carp
Esq* by Himself (being the autobiography of a Really Good Man), which would
be in that shelf if only I had a copy.

One result of this is that I've been looking at books about the house in a
speculative manner, and thus rediscovered W. Heath Robinson and Cecil
Hunt's *How To Run A Communal Home*, which tries too hard but very nearly
gets in solely on the merits of the illustrations of The Combined Snooker
and Ping-Pong Table, and of A Swiss Professor Showing a Young Wife how to
Make a Communal Jam-roll.  But then, Heath Robinson is a genius, and all
his machines and inventions are magnificent as far as I am concerned, so
merely having a lot of them collected in one place can't really be
Happenstance.  A picture of Limpet-Blasting on the Barbary Coast is on my
wall for cheering purposes, all the same.

Another one that would be there "if only" is the first version of T.H.
White's *The Sword in the Stone*, but then he went on and wrote *The Once
and Future King* and *The Book of Merlyn* and the first fine careless
rapture got a bit over-egged.  And Professor Branestawm might be there if
there weren't so *much* of him.  Likewise Uncle the Elephant.

ObDWJ, she does it occasionally.  I'd suggest that the description of the
school food in *Witch Week* is a Happenstance Gem, for instance, and there
are others.  It's what first made me fall for her work, the small moments
of pure delight and anarchy that creep in.

(Memo to self: find out if she has any candidates for that shelf.)


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