Tregaskes & Minchinhampton
After The Concert
Minchinhampton: Tregaskes? I say, Tregaskes! Did I notice you at the cuncert?
Tregaskes: Oh yes. The cuncert, certainly. Baulscheidt’s seventeenth.
Minch: Extraordinary piece of work!
Treg: Extvaordinavy, indeed! I’ve never heard the first movement played with such bvio!
Minch: Joyful! Affirming! Baulscheidt at his most lyrical!
Treg: Joyful, yes, affirming, certainly, but not without a certain melancholy. A lyvicism touched with melancholy.
Minch: A melancholy, yes, a touch, a hint, a soupçon of melancholy and yet somehow, a joyful melancholy.
Treg: A piece dvenched in melancholy; a melancholy, morveover that, tvy as one might, one fails to find veflected in the score.
Minch: Absent entirely! Absent entirely from the score, except for the woodwinds, of course.
Treg: The woodwinds, yes. “The sad oboe, whose mournful note the plashy marsh evokes,” and so forth, isn’t it.
Minch: Ah, Bloggs’s immortal lines. But didn’t he go on to say: “The playful clarinet another colour paints,” or something? Wasn’t it?
Treg: “The playful clavinet”, yes. And how masterfully, how masterfully Baulscheidt deploys the clavinet in the limpid third movement!
Minch: Limpid, yes! Limpid, but at the same time, somehow…Opaque!
Treg: Limpid in its opacity!
Minch: Or indeed, opaque in its limpidity!
Treg: Tvue! Tvue! And I think we can entirely disvegard the vemarks of Schoenberg on the subject of the adagio!
Minch: Utterly inane! Completely vacuous!
Treg: Jejune, certainly.
Minch: Jejune to the point of imbecility!
Treg: And yet, because it’s Schoenberg, still touched with a dash of wisdom.
Minch: Poor old Schoenberg! Not to be confused with Arnold, of course!
Treg: (Laughs delightedly) Dear old Arnold! So awfen confused with Edgar.
Minch: Edgar of that ilk, as it were!
Treg: Yes, the idea of mixing up those two is visible.
Treg: No, visible. Visible.
Minch: Oh, I see. Yes. Risible, exactly! Exactly! Ng. Ng. Ng. Well, I must get down to Thruster’s Dingle. Some of the Fellows are going for a swim, and they asked me to hold their clothes.
Treg: Ah, they clearly have their eye on you!
Minch: Yes, and I shall have my eye on them, too! Well, cheerio, Tregaskes!
Treg: Cheevio Minchinhampton. See you at the exhibition on Fviday!
Minchinhampton: Wouldn’t miss it for worlds!
Treg: Look out for Mrs. Fothergill’s bicycle – Oh, bad luck!
At The Gallery
Tregaskes: Have you seen those abstvact pieces in the gallevy upstairs?
Minchinhampton: A ghastlier set of muddy daubs I’ve never seen!
Treg: Muddy! Yes, muddy, indeed, muddy!
Minch: And ghastly! Utterly ghastly!
Treg: Unbearvably ghastly, and yet…
Minch: Oh yes! Yes! And yet! And, indeed, yet!
Treg: Somehow lambent in their muddiness.
Minch: A muddy lambency!
Treg: Lambent muddiness!
Minch: The artist, now. Burning with a hard, gemlike flame, would you say?
Treg: Hard, I gvant you. Gemlike, well, I think we have a little way to go before we can put our hands on our hearts and say ‘gemlike’. Isn’t it? I mean, you do agvee?
Minch: Of course! Utterly and absolutely!
Treg: I mean, you take my point?
Minch: I not only take it, but I go further! I go further!
Treg: You don’t mean..?
Minch: I think you know what I mean!
Treg: I do. I do. I gvasp the nub of the gist of your gvavamen at once.
Minch: Not the work of a master?
Treg: A pvomising journeyman.
Minch: Or, indeed, a gifted hack?
Treg: Let’s put ‘gifted’ on the back burner for the nonce.
Minch: Just for the nonce?
Treg: Until possibly wiser counsels pvevail.
Minch: Oh, surely…Surely!
Treg: My dear chap, put any one of these beside a Flandide, and you’ll see what I mean.
Minch: Do you mean Hilarion Flandide, or César?
Treg: Look here, Minchinhampton, let us vemain within the boundavies of veason!
Treg: I mean, be veasonable! Let us not depart too far fvom vational thought in our delibevations!
Minch: Exactly! You mean César, of course.
Treg: Ye- No! I meant Hilavion. Obviously.
Minch: (Laughs embarrassedly) Oh, thank goodness for that! For a moment, I was afraid you’d lost your critical faculties altogether! Yes, Hilarion, of course. The wide open spaces of the canvas, the use of the palette knife.
Treg: The extvaordinavy umbers!
Minch: The ochres!
Treg: The fleeting hints of tevva cotta! Those bvowns!
Minch: The khakis!
Treg: Oh, my God, yes! The khakis!
Minch: Nothing like that here, though.
Treg: Dull flat blues. Anaemic veds.
Minch: Bilious yellows. Flatulent greens.
Treg: A feeble touch of ovange here and there.
Minch: Whereas here…
Treg: Wheveas here…Wait a moment, what’s this? “Winner of the Infant Schools Paint A Card For Mother’s Day Competition”? What on earth..?
Minch: Oh, we appear to have, er, well. Still, let’s have a look. Hmm. Lifeless. Dull.
Treg: Pedestvian. Can’t think what’s become of art teaching in our schools these days. Join me for a shevvy in the Common Voom?
Minch: With alacrity, my dear chap. After you.
The New Bloggs
Tregaskes: What do you make of this, Minchinhampton?
Minchinhampton: The new, definitive Bloggs? Complete Works? The thing’s a debacle, my dear chap. A complete catastrophe!
Treg: What, do you suppose, could have possessed them to set the whole thing in that extvaordinavy typeface?
Minch: Ng. Ng. Ng. I mean, for Bloggs, the obvious choice would be Baskerville.
Treg: Baskerville, or, at a pinch – at a pinch – Times Voman.
Minch: Garamond! I ask you!
Treg: Gavamond. I confess the choice flummoxes me completely. I’m utterly gvavelled!
Minch: As a matter of fact, I know a couple of the editors. D’you know what they told me?
Treg: Oh dear. I’m not going to enjoy this, am I?
Minch: Brace yourself, Tregaskes. Brace yourself.
Treg: Oh dear, oh dear!
Minch: They told me that they deliberately chose Garamond as the typeface, or funt, as they call it, to bring out the cumplex inner polyrhythms of the poitry.
Treg: Eugh! Unforgiveable. Utterly beyond the pale. And the veasoning, the vationale is, of course, entirely spuvious. Still, of course, you can see whose evil influence is behind all this. It’s clear whose hand is moving in this ghastly affair!
Minch: I think we can easily detect who is stirring the wooden spoon in this filthy soup.
Treg: I can’t bving myself to articulate the necessavy vocables that compvise the blackguard’s name!
Minch: Shall I grasp that nettle? Shall I grasp it? I shall! I shall name him!
Treg: Gvasp it, Minchinhampton! Gvasp it!
Treg: The vogue! The vascal! The dveadful vepvobate! And do you know, the Dean told me once that they were thinking of inviting him to High Table?
Minch: No! No! Not here! No! Oh, you’ve quite upset me, now, Tregaskes. I shan’t manage my sherry and digestive biscuit, now, I feel quite unwell.
Treg: I said to the Dean, I said: Are you aware that that man has single-handedly, single-handedly, laid waste to English litevavy cvitical theovy? I said: Do you vealise that we can no longer count on a single undergvaduit’s being able to have anything like a tvue vesponse to the poitvy of his mother tongue?
Minch: Or her mother tongue.
Treg: No doubt. No doubt. You’d know more about that sort of thing than I would.
Minch: Yes…I’m not entirely sure I understand you, Tregaskes?
Treg: Well, I mean, you’re mavvied. You’ve got a wife, and so forth. You know the female mind.
Minch: (Thoughtfully) Ye-es…Yes, I…No. I am. Yes, I am married. You’re quite right. But I wouldn’t go as far as to claim any special profound knowledge of what makes womankind tick.
Treg: It is a mystevy, isn’t it. I vemember when it first emerged, you know.
Minch: What, the fact that I’m married? Or the female mind?
Treg: Lumpfisch’s dveadful book.
Minch: Towards A Metrical Taxunomy In Late Georgian Poitry?
Treg: That’s the one. It cut a swath. It cut a swath. Do you know, Minchinhampton, if I may speak fveely…
Minch: My dear chap.
Treg: There ought to have been the most tvemendous auto da fé when that ghastly vubbish was published, and it ought to have been burned by the public hangman on a huge fire.
Minch: Ng. Ng. Ng.
Treg: Now you know, Minchinhampton, I’m stvenuously opposed to censorhip in all its forms!
Minch: None knows it better than I, Tregaskes, but go on. I find your passion strangely exciting!
Treg: And if I may speak fveely?
Minch: Of course.
Treg: If I may expvess myself fvankly?
Minch: I wouldn’t dare to stop you now!
Treg: Well then, speaking candidly, that hovvid man, that beastly cveature ought to have been incinevated with his dveadful book! There. I’ve said it. I’ve said it. I’m glad to have it off my chest.
Minch: What man with red blood in his veins would say you nay, Tregaskes? Who would prevent you in such sacred work? But one is forced to ask, one is compelled to demand: Can English survive? I mean, can it? I mean, at all?
Treg: As a subject at University, you mean?
Minch: At all, Tregaskes! At all!
Treg: The question is moot. At best, moot.
Minch: AT ALL!
Treg: Well, you know, it’s all up to the schools, now. And not just the Public Schools and better Gvammar Schools.
Minch: God help us all, Tregaskes!
Treg: I came into divect contact with a pvuduct of one of our lesser academies the other day.
Minch: Was it at all a heuristic encounter?
Treg: Well, judge for yourself. He was pvopelling himself along on one of those skating boards, you know. And he cannoned into me, knocking me flying into the pvivet hedge at the bus stop.
Minch: How very unmanning!
Treg: I shouted: Hi! Watch where you’re going. And do you know what he said? Do you know how he veplied?
Minch: Tell me.
Treg: He said, his exact words were: Fuck off you cunt-faced twat.
Minch: What a disagreeable experience.
Treg: Yes, but what a cuvious choice of epithets! Isn’t it? I mean, you do agvee?
Minch: I hope you made the best of the upportunity, improved the occasion, as it were?
Treg: I said to him: Do you know, do you happen to know, that you’ve just employed the vevy expvession that Virginia Woolf is alleged to have used to T. S. Eliot when he vemarked on what he took to be an infelicity of style in To The Lighthouse?
Minch: And did this have any very clear and marked pedagugical effect on him?
Treg: I’ve no idea. He spat, vather copiously, as it happens, on my shoe.
Minch: Oh dear. And suede is so very unforgiving, isn’t it.
Treg: But, as Bloggs says in his Vhodomontade: What matter how muddy the shoe, if but the heart be whole?
Minch: Yes….Perhaps not his best.
Treg: No, but appvopviate, I think? Apt, you’ll agvee?
Minch: Have you tried a stiff wire brush?
Subject and Object
Tregaskes: Vather a pvocative exchange in the Senior Cummon Voom the other day, Minchinhampton.
Minchinhampton: Not the Bursar’s terribly dismal choice of sherry again, was it?
Treg: Oh no, nothing so worldly. No, it was Mawkins becoming quite emotional about a philosophical point.
Minch: Oh dear. Is he, in fact, Welsh?
Treg: Velations in Abevystwyth, I believe. But it’s no excuse, mark you!
Minch: Not in the Senior Cummon Room, at all events.
Treg: The point at issue was the yawning gap, the immense abyss that opens up as soon as one begins to cuntemplate the diffevence between the subjictive and the objictive.
Minch: But all that was laid to rest long ago, surely? The experiments of Harrod, Beesley and Garstang are surely universally known by now?
Treg: One would have thought so. In fact, any vational being would have thought so, but good old Hovvid, Beastly and Ghastly are not sufficient for Mawkins, at all events. And he did vaise an amusing, if not entirely convincing point. You vemember Vussell?
Minch: Russell? Russell, Russell…Russell Crowe, the actaw?
Treg: Bertvand Vussell. Bertvand Vussell.
Minch: Ah! The Satyr of Cheyne Walk!
Treg: And pveviously the Goat of Vichmond. Yes. At any vate, you’ll vemember how he once spent a gveat deal of time and energy on the question whether the distance fvom his house to the Post Office was the same as the distance fvom the Post Office to his house.
Minch: I remember all too well. In fact, if I may say so, a more arid and otiose piece of research I have yet to encounter.
Treg: Ah, but there, you see, you betvay your voots in litevature. Your vevy nature vises up, vises up against anything that smacks too insistently of formal logic.
Minch: You know me too well, Tregaskes, you old slyboots! Yes, thank Goodness we in the English department are blessedly free of such maunderings.
Treg: Yes, well, Mawkins’s point was, in essence this: Measured purely in feet and inches, or, nodding to our fviends in the Sciences, metres and centimetres, the distance fvom the house to the Post Office and fvom the Post Office to the house, is, indeed must perforce be, the same. You follow?
Minch: Can in fact only be identical. Yes. Ng. Ng. Ng.
Treg: Mawkins’s point is this. Follow me closely. If the Post Office is at the bottom of a hill –
Minch: Ah! Ah! Aah!
Treg: – And the house is at the top of the hill…You see? You see?
Minch: Oh, yes, indeed! I see! It’s really quite stimulating, isn’t it!
Treg: It is veally vather delicious, isn’t it!
Minch: Of course! Of course! Of course! Objictively, objictively, the distances are identical. Are in fact the same distance. Subjictively, subjictively, the energy expended to cover one is greater than that used to cover the other!
Treg: Though there is total identity between the two distances. But if one were, say for the sake of argument, to take a piece of vope, or nylon washing line, tie one end to the house, let us say, to a dvain pipe, or similar objict, and the other to, let us suggest, the ved pillar box outside the Post Office, tying it vound the pillar box –
Minch: – Which experience demands must perforce be there -
Treg: – Which all expevience cvies out must be there, the vope, or nylon washing line vemains the same length!
Minch: Can indeed be no other!
Treg: Can in no way be other than what it indubitably is! Exactly. The distances are, in fact, patently, inarguably, the same thing, sepavated only by the expevience of the person obliged to cover the distance, say, to post a letter, or buy some stationevy.
Minch: Perhaps, buy a sack of potatoes, if the Post Office is also a grocer’s shop, as is so awfen the case in country districts.
Treg: Vevy awfen the case in countvy distvicts! Pvecisely. It is simply one’s ovientation east to west -
Minch: Or, as it might be, north to south!
Treg: – Or as it might indeed be, north to south, thank you, that makes the expevience of the distance so diffevent.
Minch: Yes. Yes… Ye-es… Mawkins is quite wrong, of course.
Treg: Utterly mistaken. Two entirely diffevent things.
Minch: Er…I thought we were agreed that the two things are, in fact identical?
Treg: Not those two things. The other two things.
Treg: The, er, the subjictive expevience of the distance, as opposed to the objictive distance to the Post Office, measuvable in feet, inches, metres, centimetres; in fact, any expvession of quantity of length you like and demonstvated by the length of vope
Minch: Or, indeed, nylon washing line.
Treg: Or, as it might be, nylon washing line…I think. Isn’t it?
Minch: As opposed to the distance from the Post Office.
Treg: Ah…Ye-es. yes, I think so. Yes.
Minch: Ah, but look here, I’ve thought of a snag.
Treg: Oh hovvor!
Minch: Yes. It’s this. In my admittedly limited experience of nylon washing line, it is a substance of some elasticity. It stretches. Thus rendering measurement no more than appruximit. And therefore undermining one’s findings, leaving them subject to doubt and uncertainty. Back to square one, I’m afraid.
Treg: A palpable hit, Minchinhampton! We must veturn to our calculations.…I know! I have it! Let us vestvict ourselves exclusively to the use of good quality garden twine!
Minch: The green stuff? Capital! So then, of course…Yes, obviously. Ng. Ng. Ng. There can be no longer any doubt!
Treg: Bloody fool, Mawkins.
Minch: Good old garden twine!