*A Collection of Antiquarian Curios & Relics*
"I didn't think, I never dreamed
That I would be around to see it all come true . . ."
--Paul McCartney, 1985
Winston Smith had less than an hour before the next two minute hate. He took a long drag from his cigarette and laid it down in the cradle of his overflowing ashtray. He glanced upward at the wisp of smoke and noticed the flickering fluorescent light above him. It was a sickly yellow. The putrid light was further damped by an elephant graveyard of flying insects piled high on the plastic divider between himself and the spasmatic neon tube. The desiccated corpses of blue bottle flies, wasps, box elder bugs, and bees threatened to snap the plastic shield, crash down, and bury him beneath them. Suffocating him.
With a tinge of distaste, he looked at the stack of books on his desk. These were some of the spoils from Oceania's latest victory over Eastasia. As a member of the Ministry of Truth, it was his job to determine if these books should be immediately destroyed or made available to the Inner Party. His friend O'Brien had nominated him for this position and the Party had graciously accepted him.
The first book was called True Love (9780451468680) 29.95 by a Jennifer Lopez, or JLo as her fans knew her. Apparently she was a pop star of some note. As if he had known 'true love' himself, Winston, for a moment, felt a flutter in his chest. That couldn't be. He angrily stubbed out his cigarette. There is no redeeming value in this book whatsoever. He opened the small chute next to his desk and muttered, 'Damnatio Memoriae. Down the memoryhole with you."
Winston peered at his computer monitor, and briefly, very briefly, he wondered who might be watching him from the other side. He picked up a hefty tome from the stack and placed it between himself and the monitor. It was a biography of the Eurasian hero Napoleon: A Life (9780670025329) 45.00 by Andrew Roberts. He panicked for a second, 'Is Eurasia our ally or our enemy? Enemy!' He carefully slid the book down the chute.
The next book posed a bit of a conundrum. It was written in Oldspeak. It was 41: A Portrait of a Father (9780553447781) 28.00 by George W. Bush. In his previous position as a clerk in the Records Department, he had heard about the United States. Both Bushes, father and son, had once been President during their glory days. However, once South America and the remains of the British Empire had been absorbed, it had become Oceania. He would wait on this one . . .
Suddenly, Winston felt a splash of water on his face and a voice said, "Time to wake up, 6079."
He was strapped to a chair and a white light in his eyes blinded him. Reflexively, he shouted, "2 + 2 = 5!" He heard the thrum of a finger played on the ribs of a metal cage. And then listened to the attendant squeaks of agitated, hungry rats.
There was a sad chuckle from his interrogator, "I'm sorry, 6079. It won't be so easy this time . . ."
Odds & Sods
Mena! Mena! Mena! Filomena Castriciano, the owner of Roma's, which happens to be my favourite bakery, has written the greatest Italian cookbook ever. Specializing in Calabrian and Sicilian cuisine,
Cooking with Mena (9780692292594) 24.95 is destined to become an instant classic. Steeped in Old World traditions, Mena makes sure every child leaves her bakery with a free cookie . . .
I've been reading Richard Overy's A History of War in 100 Battles (9780199390717) 34.95, and as a veteran of many a war book, this is one of the most well-written books in this genre. From Agincourt to the Falklands, he covers all of the important battles. Two thumbs up!