Connected to neither art history nor grumpiness, but I thought I'd share a lucky second hand bookshop discovery that I enjoyed: A Christmas Cracker, being a commonplace selection by John Julius Norwich, 2005. It looks like his version of a Christmas card, signed and inscribed to the recipients. But instead of the usual twee images, it's a wonderful collection of quotations like this from an official English translation of the Japanese Highway Code:
When a passenger of the foot hove in sight, tootle the horn trumpet to him melodiously at first. If he still obstacles your passage, tootle him with vigour and express by word of mouth the warning, "Hi, Hi".
Go soothingly on the grease-mud, as there lurk the skid demon. Press the brake of the foot as you roll around the corners to save the collapse and tie-up.Ah yes, darn that skid-demon! Even more irresistible was this gem from John Betjeman to Miss Jane Boulenger, whom Norwich suspects is - contrary to Betjeman's assumption - not in fact French:
J'ai correcte les typescrips. A la meme temps j'ai made a list of suitable illustrations que je suis keeping pour aide memoire quand nous come to review le whole libre.
C'est tres important pour emphasise au le Major que les illustrations sont tres importants, aussi make-up. J'implore lui ne settez anything up in type until we discuss format et whether je suis going to be allowed couleur aussi whether le libre est not trop plein de discontent & sur la meme note. Aussi comme far ce serai possible departer from photographs.
Sean O'betjeman [sic, passim]All wonderful stuff.