February 23, 2021
This is going to be a long quote (as a warning – but not to push you away from reading it, cause it is awesome), so not much in the way of introduction here. For more of that, be sure to read The Uncommercial Traveller Cocktail Talk Part I. Here in Part II, we’re going to hang outside another public house, but this time with a very wonderful dog, in an essay all about London “shy neighborhoods” and the animals (and people, thought a little less) that hang out within them. Dickens from all I can tell, had a big fondness for dogs – check out the Dombey and Son Cocktail Talk all about Diogenes the dog, my favorite Dickens character, for another example. Perhaps after you read the below, which has rockets up my list of favorite Dickens quotes quite rapidly. For the whole thing, but highlighted by the phrase “an intelligence of ears and tail” which I find absolutely spot on and lovely.
At a small butcher’s, in a shy neighbourhood (there is no reason for suppressing the name; it is by Notting-hill, and gives upon the district called the Potteries), I know a shaggy black and white dog who keeps a drover. He is a dog of an easy disposition, and too frequently allows this drover to get drunk. On these occasions, it is the dog’s custom to sit outside the public-house, keeping his eye on a few sheep, and thinking. I have seen him with six sheep, plainly casting up in his mind how many he began with when he left the market, and at what places he has left the rest. I have seen him perplexed by not being able to account to himself for certain particular sheep. A light has gradually broken on him, he has remembered at what butcher’s he left them, and in a burst of grave satisfaction has caught a fly off his nose, and shown himself much relieved. If I could at any time have doubted the fact that it was he who kept the drover, and not the drover who kept him, it would have been abundantly proved by his way of taking undivided charge of the six sheep, when the drover came out besmeared with red ochre and beer, and gave him wrong directions, which he calmly disregarded. He has taken the sheep entirely into his own hands, has merely remarked with respectful firmness, ‘That instruction would place them under an omnibus; you had better confine your attention to yourself—you will want it all;’ and has driven his charge away, with an intelligence of ears and tail, and a knowledge of business, that has left his lout of a man very, very far behind.
— Charles Dickens, The Uncommercial Traveller
January 12, 2021
As mentioned just two weeks ago right here on the Spiked Punch blog, we’re going into a little turn through the Dickens’ classic Little Dorrit, a book I hadn’t featured here (some how?) until just that post two weeks ago (by the way, don’t miss the Little Dorrit Cocktail Talk Part I, so you can catch a little more about the book, and be sure to see all the Dickens Cocktail Talks to learn more about my love for Dickens and his love of drinks, pubs, drinkers, and dogs). In this particular quote, there’s a character named by his profession (which happens some in this book, to swell effect), and some sherry (which also happens), which is turned into a cocktail of sorts, which I am all for, as, I hope, are you.
Bishop said that when he was a young man, and had fallen for a brief space into the habit of writing sermons on Saturdays, a habit which all young sons of the church should sedulously avoid, he had frequently been sensible of a depression, arising as he supposed from an over-taxed intellect, upon which the yolk of a new-laid egg, beaten up by the good woman in whose house he at that time lodged, with a glass of sound sherry, nutmeg, and powdered sugar acted like a charm. Without presuming to offer so simple a remedy to the consideration of so profound a professor of the great healing art, he would venture to inquire whether the strain, being by way of intricate calculations, the spirits might not (humanly speaking) be restored to their tone by a gentle and yet generous stimulant?
–Charles Dickens, Little Dorrit
December 1, 2020
As said in the “Goldfish” Cocktail Talk Part I, this particular Raymond Chandler story (from the Trouble Is My Business and Other Stories collection, and also don’t miss the “Trouble Is My Business” Part I and Part II Cocktail Talks, and for that matter, don’t miss other past Raymond Chandler Cocktail Talks) winds its way eventually up the coast all the way to Seattle, and so is nearly automatically near-and-dear to me. But it starts down the coast a ways, and also starts a little rough for one character (that’s your warning – the below quote is a little, oh, violent at the beginning), but then heads to Brooklyn. With Brooklyn Scotch, which, I have to admit, I’ve never heard of! So, now I’m very curious, and hoping the below makes you curious, too, and that curiosity leads to some Brooklyn Scotch history.
They had been burned raw on the soles. There was a smell of scorched flesh in spite of the open window. Also, a smell of scorched wood. An electric iron on a desk was still connected. I went over and shut it off.
I went back to Kathy Home’s kitchen and found a pint of Brooklyn Scotch in the cooler. I used some of it and breathed deeply for a little while and looked out over the vacant lots. There was a narrow cement walk behind the house and green wooden steps down to the street.
–Raymond Chandler, “Goldfish”
November 17, 2020
Well, when I earlier (as in last week pals) had a “Trouble is My Business” Cocktail Talk post, I’ll bet those of you who bet made a bet at your local bookie that I’d have another one on its heels, and, well, here we are! I feel we’re gonna spend a few weeks with Mr. Chandler and Mr. Marlowe now that we’ve opened the tab. But let’s not get ahead of ourselves! Today, we’d still in the story “Trouble is My Business,” and we’re still in Scotch land – not a bad land to be within.
He opened the door, went out, shut it, and I sat there still holding the telephone, with my mouth open and nothing in it but my tongue and a bad taste on that.
I went out to the kitchen and shook the Scotch bottle, but it was still empty. I opened some rye and swallowed a drink and it tasted sour. Something was bothering me. I had a feeling it was going to bother me a lot more before I was through.
–Raymond Chandler, Trouble is My Business
August 18, 2020
We are back for more Cocktail Talking from 1800s writer Wilkie Collins’ lesser-known gem No Name. If you haven’t read the No Name Part I Cocktail Talk, then I strongly suggest you do, to get a little background on the book, and the author (and if you really want to go into history, of a slightly less recent sort, but far more recent than the author himself, check out another Wilkie via The Yellow Mask and Other Stories Cocktail Talk). Did all that? Fan-Victorian-tastic! In this, our second No Name treat, our heroine Magdalen Vanstone is (in disguise – just letting you know that to be intriguing!) getting a tour of a house from one of its occupants, the charming (and tipsy) old sailor Mazey, who is a well-done memorable character, especially when he’s talking about monks drinking grog!
“No more, my dear — we’ve run aground here, and we may as well wear round and put back again,” said old Mazey. “There’s another side of the house — due south of you as you stand now — which is all tumbling about our ears. You must go out into the garden if you want to see it; it’s built off from us by a brick bulkhead, t’other side of this wall here. The monks lived due south of us, my dear, hundreds of years afore his honor the admiral was born or thought of, and a fine time of it they had, as I’ve heard. They sang in the church all the morning, and drank grog in the orchard all the afternoon. They slept off their grog on the best of feather-beds, and they fattened on the neighborhood all the year round. Lucky beggars! lucky beggars!”
–Wilkie Collins, No Name
February 4, 2020
Well, I decided I needed a second Cocktail Talk from the Simenon book where Superintendent (at this point) Maigret mingles with the uber rich – don’t miss Part I. In it, I have a quote that’s respectably boozy, but doesn’t actually have our stoic Superintendent himself having a drink. So, here we are, with the below quote from a time when Calvados wasn’t considered the smart thing it seems – hard to believe that now.
There were many people there, and the air was thick with cigar and cigarette smoke; besides the superintendent’s, there was only one other pipe smoker.
“What can I give you?”
“Do you have any Calvados?”
He didn’t see any on the shelves, where every brand of whisky was displayed. The barman unearthed a bottle, however, and filled a huge balloon-shaped glass, as if any other sort of vessel for liquor was unknown here.
–George Simenon, Maigret and the Millionaires
January 14, 2020
We started our Framed in Guilt Cocktail Talk-ing in Part I earlier this month – if you missed that, go check it out – with a first quote from the Day Keene classic reprinted in one volume along with another fine novel, My Flesh is Sweet. Here, protagonist and Hollywood writer (and murder suspect) Robert Stanton and lady friend are having a few drinks while not going to London, hahaha!
Fortifying himself with a double rye, he made a Tom Collins for Joy and joined them. “And where have you been,” Joy demanded.
Sitting down beside her, Stanton handed her the glass. “It wasn’t to London to see the queen. Scram, will you Bobby? I wouldst talk with my betrothed.”
–Day Keene, Framed in Guilt
December 31, 2019
After realizing I’d never had a Dr. Siri Cocktail Talk just weeks ago, I’ve now decided that I must have another one, right now! If you missed I Shot the Buddha Part I, be sure to read it, A: so you can learn more about Dr. Siri (if you need to), and the mysteries starring him writen by Colin Cotterill, and also B: so you can read the quote where he begins drinking some Glenfiddich (also with wife Madame Daeng). See, the reason you need to do that, is the below quote is more the aftermath of said drinking! And has one of the best descriptions of being drunk I’ve ever heard – nicely done Mr. Cotterill! Hopefully it doesn’t apply to too many of you tonight!
Although he couldn’t coax the words from his mouth, he thought how he’d been standings since he was nice months old. It occurred to him he was drunk as a flock of bridesmaids. He attempted to show how good he was at standing, but he couldn’t find the ground beneath him, couldn’t feel his legs.
–Colin Cotterill, I Shot the Buddha