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Eight Possibly Apocryphal Things

The latest fashion amongst Diarists, I gather from chatter in the coffee shops and eating houses, is apparently to post eight things about themselves in some manner which were previously unknown, and, having done so, suggest to eight other Diarists that they should do the same. I confess that this does sound somewhat like a plan that my brother Cardinal came up with, except that he included a further instruction to send a shilling to the person from whom you received the initial request, which led to the drastic impoverishment of many Scribblers (and consequently, coffee shops) and a short stretch for my brother at Her Majesty's Pleasure.

Given that there is no such instruction here and that I was "tagged" by the explorer Ms Bettina Tizzy I thought that I might partake on this uneventful Saturday evening. Here are eight Facts of Significant Import concerning myself.

  1. I am allergic to Nickel. This causes occasional issues during my activities, but confined mostly to an occasional rash which is easily countered by the application of a medicinal cream.

  2. I am the most appalling shot imaginable. During my earlier years, when my Father was instructing me in the handling of Firearms - I mean no disrespect clearly when I term him an eccentric man, who had ideas regarding the role of Woman in Society, and particularly his own daughter, that were distinctly out of step with those more generally held - he regularly despaired.

    "For G-d's Sake, Ordinal!" he would cry out in the field next door to the Hertfordshire home where I spent my early years, scaring the crows far more than my awkward shots. "It is simple, hold your hand steadier girl, and do not spasmically yank at the trigger like that. And put that screwdriver away! That is a perfectly good revolver and needs no additional parts inserted."

    I grew up entirely unthreatening to any targets, and it was only when one stray bullet aimed at an empty jar instead went through a hedge and into the wheel of a passing cart, causing its complete collapse, the spilling of its cargo of illicit whisky, and three unsavoury types to angrily leap the hedge and chase the pair of us to our very door, where they were only discouraged by the arrival of a shotgun in the hands of my papa, that he decided that perhaps it was not advisable that I continue in this particular mode of education. Instead, my mother forced me to read more Milton. In retrospect I have to say that the .455 calibre is not terribly suitable for eleven-year-old girls.

  3. One thing in which I am skilled which surprises folk at times is that I can play the trombone. It was the opinion of my mother that every child should learn an instrument, for their own artistic pleasure in the future, though it is well known that children (except on very occasional occasions) have no interest in their own futures, or at least no interest in any future which requires music practice now.

    Given that I was forbidden from the piano after ruining it almost beyond repair - I merely wondered how it worked - an alternative had to be sought, and the only thing that was available in the locality was a trombone owned by a fellow from the North, who used to play in a colliery band. The poor chap had developed a lung condition from his exposure to coal dust but offered to instruct me in its use, and I surprised my parents by being particularly willing to visit him for lessons. Actually, I confess, I spent much of my time talking to him about mining machinery, but without some progress with the trombone I would not have been allowed to continue, thus it was necessary that I actually learn to play it.

    I dare say that the number of female trombonists in the world is fairly small, though I have not played for some decades and do not even own a trombone now.

  4. Initially at University I had no interest in my current profession, but instead rejected it and chose to study Mathematics and Philosophy. Not only was this more approved of as something for a lady - well, certainly compared to engineering - but I had entered a regrettable adolescent phase of Romanticism, rejecting my earlier interests and instead dressing in the most terrible purple, mooning purposely after the most witless of fellow Romantics and composing the most awful poetry.

    I spent a couple of my undergraduate years studying the Classics of both fields and the work of more daring modern Logicians and Thinkers, before coming to the following conclusions:

    1. Mathematics is terribly difficult if one is to do any more than simply use it (I have heard vague references to some American thinker, "Malibu Stacy" I think, saying the same);
    2. Philosophy is all very well but often propounded by people who could not write, and should have been beaten harder;
    3. Philosophy is routinely studied by complete halfwits who would not recognise proper Thought if it were to insert itself into their skulls via a large syringe.

    These did discourage me and quite quickly I moved to the study of the Difference Engine, in which my College was internationally renowned, and discovered for myself that it was in fact much more the sort of thing that I had always wished to do. I am known to occasionally wear purple now but I do not write poetry, an activity which should only be attempted by those who are any good at it.

  5. I speak passable French (though only passable, now, I have forgotten quite a bit). During a jaunt across the Channel to study Parisian "Ordinateurs", I was stranded without a penny when my pocket was picked by some rogue near the Gare Du Nord, and had to fend for myself for a month before I was able to obtain funds for my return. Such an experience hones one's linguistic skills with dramatic rapidity. I would also like to thank Jacques and Marie for their kind hospitality, continual attention and certain other things of which they will certainly be aware should they read this.

  6. My skin is as supple and clear as it was decades ago, strictly because of my attention to Science and my rejection of the ridiculous Fads and Fancies of skin-care. Ladies, and Gentlemen for that matter, of the audience, everything costing over a shilling or two is bunkum. Regular application of simple hydrating agents available for next to nothing, the forsaking vicious "cleansing" agents, and the avoidance of the sun (via a parasol or simply regularly not leaving the workshop for days on end) is far more effective than any Pro Vitamin rubbish and far easier on the pocketbook. You are of course entirely free to disregard this advice, but in twenty years, I will be the one with the skin of one in their prime and you will be the one looking like a neglected burlap sack.

    And for the Gentlemen - you may well be quite happy with a Distinguished Appearance now, and time and society combined are indeed more gentle to the Male, but if I ask you in twenty years whether you would wish to regain the appearance of your youth I suspect that I will receive a lengthy and probably extremely dull list of affirmatives and regrets regarding the passing of those golden years. Buck up you daft lot. Honestly.

  7. I do, it must be said, smoke far too much, even given that "at all" is far too much. I am not particularly concerned that cigarettes are not considered ladylike, but it is clearly poor for one's general health, and is not terribly good for the skin either. (I am not convinced by those physicians who claim that it is a purgative, and that the coughing caused is merely bringing up detritus from the lungs that would otherwise lurk there malignantly.)

    I began the habit whilst an undergraduate - again I must blame my Romantic phase here, it all seemed so terribly abandoned and forbidden and self-destructive, as if that sort of thing was at all good - and now I lack the willpower to force myself to stop. Why, it is almost as if tobacco is some sort of narcotic! An odd idea I know.

  8. And lastly: I abhor white wine. I am quite happy to drink champagne, of decent vintage, but white wine is really quite horrible stuff. If I am working late into the night recalibrating an Engine and require some stimulant, a bottle of red Vin De Table will serve quite adequately, but I have no truck with the vin blanc. An appropriately chilled and particularly buttery Sancerre will occasionally be tolerable with a suitable first course, but otherwise I am frequently upon the horns of dilemmas when dining in company.

    "Oh, let us have two bottles of red, and two bottles of white," my companions say, and the requisite bottles are spread across the table, and I manage to have the red moved down to the end of the table that I occupy, and of course they disappear relatively quickly (clearly nothing to do with me, it must be that I associate with habitual drinkers, poor souls). And then one must weigh the matter up: either attempt to attract the attention of the Waiting Staff, and waiters and waitresses seem to take great delight in ignoring me in such circumstances, and even should they do so one might appear to be rude in ordering another bottle or two on the general tariff, or - dread result - drink whatever terrible white that has been delivered. It is only when the company is composed of Doctors, Lawyers, Ministers (sometimes of Parliament) and other Professions that I have no issue here, as dining with the aforesaid means that one never in fact runs out of supplies of any sort of wine at all.

    Suffice to say that if any readers were concerned as to the quality of my own wine cellar and the resulting influence on my own compositions, it contains a selection of Old and New World reds, some fizz for special occasions and a couple of bottles of some white or other for the benefit of visiting relatives and others without taste that I nonetheless wish to impress for some reason or other.

RobbyRacoon's picture
09 Dec200709:01
RobbyRacoon (not verified)

"but I do not write poetry, an activity which should only be attempted by those who are any good at it."

I wish to disagree. Much of what you write seems to me to be quite similar to poetry, and very pleasant to read as well.

Tinsel Silvera's picture
09 Dec200710:47
Tinsel Silvera (not verified)

Hello Miss Ordinal. I have been following this little game in the blogs secretly hoping that someone would tag you. Thank you for this entertaining glimpse into who Oridinal Malaprop is. I concur with Mr. Robby's comment above. Take care.

Aenea Nori's picture
09 Dec200713:37
Aenea Nori (not verified)

Miss Ordinal, I've found this whole blathering meme a bit tedious, but this post gives true purpose to having read everyone else's (and my own) meaningless and random facts. Thank you for making this worthwhile. :)

Tom Reynolds's picture
10 Dec200709:23
Tom Reynolds (not verified)

I've also been 'tagged' with this meme. But after reading the sheer genius of the above post, I can't see how I could write anything as entertaining.

Once again you show us other bloggers up as the hacks that we are.

Jaymin Carthage's picture
11 Dec200701:38
Jaymin Carthage (not verified)

Ms. Malaprop,
Thank you for elucidating us with elements of your personal history that were both entertaining and educational.
I'm afraid I haven't been out to stroll about the greens of Caledon much of late as my own work as kept me engrossed in my own laboratory (a phenomena that you appear quite familiar with) and my attendance has been proclaimed and mandatory at the occasion of my wife's birth of my first child. I'd rather be passing out cigars and being congratulated down at the local as is more fashionable. But She Who Must Not Be Disobeyed has made her declaration and my duty cannot be questioned.
But, I must say, having read of many of your recitations of your character from your early years I think I would most heartily recommend to you the process of giving birth should you consider it at some point in your future. I have spent some time now in Hospital, a place I normally avoid like the plague, and it is fascinating. There are machines of all sorts, shapes, and sizes! Machines that pump, machines that vibrate, machines that lift, machines that heat, machines that communicate and even ones that make toast! I dare say you would be transported to planes of delight by being in their mere presences (if the ether and medicines they apply to you does not already have that effect).
And, if that is not enough to stimulate you I must speak of the poor and ill designed nature of the machines. Clearly engineers seldom visit these sanitized halls. There is so much room for improvement! The pumps that pump do so inadequately, or less that but rather have inadequate values that ensure that each person needs to buy their own (or so the salesmen assure me). There are lotions and flanges that are only exclusively used with certain devices yet are separate. It is a nightmare of bad design.
So, if you are ever convinced to have a child and find yourself packing for a stay in hospital, I would heartily encourage of the necessity of bringing your toolbox. And, should any pesky hospital staff attempt to dissuade you from improving their deficient machinery, the fortune of having recently giving birth gives you the trump card of indisputable argument.
Oh, my wife reminds me to mention that the result of the process, the baby, is cute, cuddly, and will eventually grown old enough to be a fine assistant in your laboratory.
Your servant,