September 18, 2012

Cocktail Talk: The Dead of Jericho

So, here’s a kind of a funny story about British TV and this set of quotes. Randomly, when I was living in Italy (which, as an aside, did not suck. It was, between us, as far from sucking as possible), I watched a fair bit of British TV, including some shows on the Alibi Channel. Those who know me (like you) know I like the mysteries of all types, so no surprise. One show I caught and got hooked on was called Lewis. It’s about a sort-of everyman police detective and his literary-minded sergeant solving crimes in Oxford. It’s literate without being nose-turned-uppity, serious but funny, lovely and reverent towards the city. And the murders are good, too. Anyway, I didn’t know at first but it’s a spin-off of a long running British hit, the Inspector Morse mysteries, in which Lewis is the sergeant and the very literary (and booze-and-lady-lovin’) Morse is the main man. These shows started out based on a series of books by a guy named Colin Dexter, and I just picked up and read my first one, The Dead of Jericho. And that’s where these quotes are from (oh, it’s a dandy read, too).

Yes several time already, in the hour or so that followed the brisk, perfunctory ‘hullos’ of their introduction, their eyes had met across the room—and held. And it was after his third glass of slightly superior red plonk that he managed to break award from small circle of semi-acquaintances with whom he’d so far been standing.

 . . .yet others lift their eyes to read the legend on a local inn: ‘Tarry ye at Jericho until your beard’s be grown.’ But the majority of the area’s inhabitants would just look blankly at their interlocutors, as if they had been asked such obviously unanswerable questions as why it was that men were born, or why they should live or die, and fall in love with booze or women.

–Colin Dexter, The Dead of Jericho 

Rathbun on Film