Cam's Blog

January 29, 2011

The magistrate’s falconer’s guano sweeper

Filed under: Books — cfranc @ 5:50 pm

I got around to starting The Thousand Autumns of Jacob de Zoet this week. The link points to Amazon and not a review because (a) it’s a great book thus far and I recommend it, and (b) I wouldn’t wish to spoil any of the plot with an overly informative review.

Instead I’ll pique your interest with a quotation that made me chuckle out loud on the bus:

“I am sick,” Vorstenbosch complains to heaven, “sick of these damned” — he thumps the scroll on the table, causing the Japanese to gasp in horror at the disrespect — “‘tokens of esteem’! On Mondays it is ‘The magistrate’s falconer’s guano sweeper asks for a roll of Bangalore chintz’; on Wednesdays, ‘The city elders’ monkey-keeper requires a box of cloves’; on Fridays it is ‘His Lord So-and-so of Such-and-such admires your whalebone cutlery: he is a powerful friend of foreigners,’ so, hey diddle diddle, it is chipped pewter spoons for me. Yet when we need assistance, where are these ‘powerful friends of foreigners’ to be found?”

I picture a David Mitchell very pleased with himself after inventing the magistrate’s falconer’s guano sweeper.


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