Tuesday, September 17, 2013

Beware of the lions!

My computer has been returned to me safe, sound, and much cleaner than before. But this week finds me yet again scrambling for time, so, with an eye toward late-week equilibrium, I'll offer just a short extract today from Priscilla Napier's charming 1966 memoir of growing up as British national in colonial Cairo, A Late Beginner:
"Can we go round by Kasr-el-Nil? Can we go round by the lion bridge?"

Foam from the horses' nostrils blew back at us in the river breeze. "Please, lions, can we come on your bridge?" Any neglect of this formula would of course have caused the huge bronze lions at either end to descend from their pedestals and devour us. When nothing frightening is happening it is sometimes necessary to invent something frightening that might happen.
I'm reading Napier's book in one of Slightly Foxed Editions' lovely, small-trim hardcovers, and it's a perfect Slightly Foxed book: a charming, funny, minor memoir of an English childhood. One couldn't think of a more narrow niche, nor a more reliably rewarding one. I've pretty much committed to buying every book they publish in this series; I've not been disappointed yet.

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