Friday, March 22, 2013

Sheila Burnford quote for the day: Swiss Family Robinson

From The Fields of Noon, by Sheila Burnford, 1964 
The first story I ever remember having read to me was Robinson Crusoe, and later I read and re-read it myself, starting again at the beginning the moment it was finished, just like painting the Forth Bridge.  The Swiss Family Robinson was even better...a wonderfully fat volume, profusely illustrated and complete every last moralization and every gruesome detail...its pages crammed with useful tit-bits of information on how to improve one's lot and live more graciously on desert islands...Thanks to Mr. Robinson, that bottomless well of How to Do It lore, I knew how to make a Unique Machine for boiling whale blubber; I could construct a sun or sand clock, train ostriches, open oysters and manufacture sago; if a sturgeon had been caught in my coconut fibre fishnet, I knew just how to make isinglass windows from its bladder.  I could even--and as I write I feel the urge to do so--make waterproof boots (beloved familiar gumboots), witih a clay mould, taken from my sand filled socks, then painted over with layers of latex tapped from the nearest rubber tree.  It would have been a luckless Man Friday who made his imprint on my solitary sands, for I would have been a fearful bore to live with. 

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