Marrying off mother and other stories


You already knew I’m shallow. Let’s face it. The swimming pool of my intellect isn’t really Olympics sized. An ant will crack his skull if he tries to dive in, it’s that shallow. But then I don’t give a …what’s that word…. that abstract noun that could fly and I like it more when it’s a verb but hate it when it doesn’t last more than seven minutes?……forget it, let’s move on. I’ll just wait for the next seven-minute event (At my age I have ta check my calendar for it though).

About reading, I enjoy anything that’s not too heavy. It should be a book that I can read while holding a beer in one hand, listening to Dr. Hook and gradually getting plastered. Plastered. Isn’t that a curious word? It was born to denote a drunk guy in the American depression / prohibition era. Dead, buried, sozzled, lit, pissed, smashed, zonked, all these meant a drunk person during that particular period in history, 1920s America, when American literature simply took off, with the likes of Johnny Steinbeck, Jimmy Thurber, Scotty Fitz and Truey Caps, all friends of mine. Today of course its Spunkybong, but this is not about him.

Oh yeah, I always read five books simultaneously. It’s the same as having five mistresses, or alternating spoonfuls of sweet mango chutney with the lamb masala and pilaw. Remember always to alternate. Everything, even sex. Sweet and sour, honey garlic, thai (don’t try smoked though). You’ll appreciate even the blandest food if you have a bowl of aam morobba or aam shokto or bite into just one jalapeno pepper while you’re having the main course. Same thing with books.

Now about the topic I had initially started to write on, British humor.

British humor is quite distinct from American humor. The English are more tongue-in-cheek, they pun like crazy and can be as raunchy as the Yanks but in an oblique indirect way. No one was better at it than the late Gerald “Gerry” Malcolm Durrell, OBE, naturalist, zookeeper, conservationist, author and television presenter. He is best remembered for the fun-laced humor in the books that he wrote based on his life as an animal collector and enthusiast.


Wikipedia says Durrell was born in 1925 at Jamshedpur, India, where his father was stationed as an engineer. He recalled visiting a zoo in India and attributed his lifelong love of animals to that occasion.

Most of Durrell’s writing, or at least the books that I have read, was based on the five years of his life that he spent on the Greek island of Corfu where his mother had moved with her children after her husband’s death, in 1935. It was on Corfu that Durrell, then only 10, began to collect and rear some of the local fauna as his pets. These included Achilles the tortoise, Quasimodo the pigeon, Ulysses the owl, numerous spiders, frogs and beetles, Alecko the gull, dogs Widdle and Puke, Sally the donkey, and the birds known as the Magenpies.

I loved his ‘My family and other animals’ and I’ve told Hilda in the second hand book store by the riverside to keep an eye out for ‘Birds, Beasts, and Relatives’ and ‘The Garden of the Gods’ if someone should drop them off.

Among my current five books lying due east of the beer mug is Durrell’s ‘Marrying off mother and other stories’. Beginning with Esmeralda, a champion truffle pig, this collection of eight short stories is Durrell at his hilarious best. The nun who finds her true calling in a Monte Carlo casino. The beloved cruise captain who drops dead as his ship crosses the dateline. Durrell’s brother Larry conspiring to arrange a wildly inappropriate match for their widowed mother and co-conspirator, Spiro, their devoted Greek man-Friday who swears,” My lips are seals”. A perpetually cursing parrot who inadvertently hastens the downfall of a wayward vicar. Eight gems that will fill you full of mirth.

Try it and if you don’t like it, my money back.


2 thoughts on “Marrying off mother and other stories”

  1. I loved his books – started with My Family and Other Animals to Bats in my Belfry. His tales of Larry and his intellectual friends and Margo and his mother’s idiosyncracies kept me enthralled in my teens.

    If you get a chance read Larry D’s Antrobus shorts, about the diplomatic corps. They are absolutely hilarious and quite unlike the Alexandria Quartet.


    • spunkybong said:

      I’ll try Lawrence Durrell surely. Imagine living inside a hilarious, naturally funny family. Must have been like acting in the world’s first reality sit-com. 😀


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