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Sketches by Boz
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Sketches by Boz > Characters, 5: The Parlour Orator

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message 1: by Kim (new) - rated it 4 stars

Kim The final sketch this week is titled "The Parlous Orator" and was first published as "The Parlour" in Bell's Life in London in December 1835. This sketch was the least interesting for me. I know almost nothing about bars, pubs, and the like and haven't been in one since I was a child. Then I was in one bar or another nearly every night of the week, but that was in the good old days of having to go where my parents took me. Anyway, my bar room days have faded from my mind, so the bar/ parlour descriptions didn't bring anything in particular to mind, and the oration of the annoying red faced man just got on my nerves. This speech of his reminded me of Rev. Chadband in "Bleak House":

'What is a man?' continued the red-faced specimen of the species, jerking his hat indignantly from its peg on the wall. 'What is an Englishman? Is he to be trampled upon by every oppressor? Is he to be knocked down at everybody's bidding? What's freedom? Not a standing army. What's a standing army? Not freedom. What's general happiness? Not universal misery. Liberty ain't the window-tax, is it? The Lords ain't the Commons, are they?' And the red-faced man, gradually bursting into a radiating sentence, in which such adjectives as 'dastardly,' 'oppressive,' 'violent,' and 'sanguinary,' formed the most conspicuous words, knocked his hat indignantly over his eyes, left the room, and slammed the door after him."

And the responses from the other patrons of the public-house reminded me of the type of responses the people who actually listened to Rev. Chadband would say, "Wonderful man", "Spendid speaker", "Great power" type of thing. I am leaving this last sketch up to you all and am going in search of an illustration or two.


Tristram Shandy This Sketch reminded me in a way of Mr. Willet and his Maypole cronies but also of my pub days. Before I was married, before I even knew my wife-to-be, I often went to a pub in the evening to eat my dinner there, smoke my pipe and read my book, and, of course, I also observed people there. Believe me, there are still lots of parlour orators around. In German, we call them Kneipenphilosophen, which means "pub philosophers", and they can be quite ornery :-)


message 3: by Kim (new) - rated it 4 stars

Kim Kneipenphilosophen, really? Who thinks up these long, long word? Every time I see one I feel sorry for your children learning how to spell them all.


message 4: by Peter (new)

Peter I imagine all pubs have their own version of a "red-faced man." Would it be possible to actually call a place "the local" without the resident orator?

I really enjoyed the Dickens touch of describing the pictures on the wall, and the navel pictures where "men-of-war [banged] away at each other most vigorously." Sometimes it's difficult to separate real men-of-war on the high seas from human men banging away about some grievance, real or perceived, in a bar or pub.

Our earlier sketch of the gin house raises the question of where would any of us like to spend an evening. I'd vote for the local pub. Red-faced men or not, it seems the pub would be my choice.


message 5: by Kim (new) - rated it 4 stars

Kim I also will vote for the pub. The gin shop just sounds horrible and I've spent enough time in American bars, whether they are close to an English pub I don't know, but they aren't in my mind. When I was a little girl my parents both loved to drink, and not water. Because of this my sister and I spent most weeknights at a bar in the next town. I would say every night except you couldn't go to a bar on a Sunday - I wonder if that is still true? - and it was also closed on a Monday or Tuesday, I forget which. So five of seven nights of the week we were there. It was so incredibly boring. I don't remember if it ever occurred to me to take a book along, but I know I didn't do it. My sister and I would spend hours playing hangman or some other word game, there was plenty of paper and pencils around for some reason. Or we'd see how far we could slide on the shiny floors. Oh, I was so happy when they finally told me I was old enough to stay home by myself. I wonder if you can still take your children to a bar? So, since I've seen enough American bars I'll go for the English pub. Or whatever Tristram has over there. :-)


message 6: by Peter (new)

Peter Kim wrote: "I also will vote for the pub. The gin shop just sounds horrible and I've spent enough time in American bars, whether they are close to an English pub I don't know, but they aren't in my mind. When ..."

I don't know much about bars either since I don't much like/do them since my university years, but from my experience they are full of noise. Multiple tv's on with sports events or some form of band playing too loudly (I admit to being in a couple of these bands through the years). If there was place where you could meet with friends, have a quiet drink, share some tales and them go home that would be great. Actually, that's what the coffee shop has turned into in the past few years. That's good. Tea and coffee is cheaper and you never go home drunk. :-))


message 7: by Kim (new) - rated it 4 stars

Kim Peter wrote: "If there was place where you could meet with friends, have a quiet drink, share some tales and them go home that would be great. Actually, that's what the coffee shop has turned into in the past few years. That's good. Tea and coffee is cheaper and you never go home drunk."

Sounds wonderful. Or you could just come here. :-)


Tristram Shandy Kim wrote: "Kneipenphilosophen, really? Who thinks up these long, long word? Every time I see one I feel sorry for your children learning how to spell them all."

Kim,

German is actually quite easy to spell because there is a direct link between the sound and the respective letters. It's not as tricky as English, where you have words like "indict" being pronounced "indite" but "contradict" not being pronounced "contradite". Or, why does "swamp" not rhyme with "tramp"? Why do you spell "enough" and not "enuff"? Spelling English words is often very difficult for German students. I, however, quite like those irregularities.


message 9: by Tristram (last edited Dec 01, 2015 03:21AM) (new) - rated it 4 stars

Tristram Shandy It is a sad truth that genuine pub culture is on the decline in Germany. Nowadays, there are hip places with loud music, TV screens showing video clips, shiny tables, uncomfortable chairs, cocktails or beer blended with fruit juice and obnoxious people everywhere.

I really enjoyed the spit-and-sawdust pub, where there was a billiards table in the back, customers had their regular stools at the bar and were engaged in long, sometimes highly kneipenphilosophical discussions with each other and / or the landlord. The most frequent drink was beer - and no fancy stuff like cocktails, and the menu had two or three dishes, one of them being invariably fried potatoes with schnitzel. The windows of these places were made of colourful glass, and inside it was always gloomy, in a nice way. The tables were wooden and very heavy, and there would always be some people playing Skat or Doppelkopf, and the lights had a corona of smoke around them.

And yes, you could have a quiet drink, share some tales with friends and strangers and afterwards walk home peacefully. Those were the days.

The good thing is that since I don't patronise those new places, it saves me a lot of money ;-)


message 10: by Peter (new)

Peter Tristram wrote: "It is a sad truth that genuine pub culture is on the decline in Germany. Nowadays, there are hip places with loud music, TV screens showing video clips, shiny tables, uncomfortable chairs, cocktail..."

I'm getting more and more nostalgic as I read our pub comments. Since we have discussed our mutual enjoyment of the old Columbo TV series I would like to offer up the series Cheers. A true local, "where everyone knows your name" complete with characters of all sorts.

I have never followed Coronation Street but I presume that is the ultimate place to find a local.


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