Nothing to be done.

Two great pessimists of the 20th century are compared. And the reader is challenged.

Samuel Beckett
Caricature by Tonio

I have a fondness, as does my friend Dr Spo for that great Irish-French* pessimist Samuel Beckett. For me that fondness began when I was a member of a young theatre guild attached to a theatre company in Toronto. We had a marvellous barn of a building on 12 Alexander Street** downtown, filled with sets, costumes and props from productions by the Crest and Canadian Players Company that had been unwillingly amalgamated to create Theatre Toronto. I was “director” for a workshop performance of Play, a one act piece involving a man, his wife and his mistress encased in funeral urns with just their heads showing. It was to be performed very quickly with a spotlight on each as they delivered their rapid fire seeming non-sequitars – twice through! We didn’t have body sized funeral urns nor did we have spotlights so each actor held a flash light pointing up to illuminate their face and turned them off and on as they spoke their respective lines. Surprisingly it worked and by the time we had rehearsed it was starting to make sense.

One utterance became a catchphrase between my friend Charlie and I: A little dinghy…

Eeyore and Piglet – original drawings by E. H. Shepard.

Now lest you think this is simply a senile ramble down memory lane by an old man – okay there is a bit of that – there is a reason I bring up Sam B. Recently a quiz was given to the cast of a London revival of Endgame to see if they could identify which phrase was Beckett and which that other great 20th century pessimist A. A. Milne’s Eeyore. Further investigation revealed that the two where very similar in their downbeat view of humanity and the world. So I thought I’d make up my own quiz and see how well my faithful reader would do on it.

Unfortunately WordPress will not allow embedding of Survey Monkey quizzes so the best I can do is provide a link. If you’d like to play along just left click on the link below and tell me who you think said what.

https://www.surveymonkey.com/r/SMWTMKK

*The comment section of the Guardian was filled with irate comments when their reviewer used the term Irish-French. An entire Irish contingent was up in arms however as more than one person mentioned he lived in France from 1937 until his death in 1989, wrote in French then reworked in English, fought in the French Resistance, was awarded the Croix de Guerre and the Medal of the Resistance , and is buried in Montparnasse. This would suggest the French tag is not entirely inappropriate.

**It is now the home of Buddies in Bad Times and prior to that the home of Toronto Workshop Theatre. The fact that it stills exists as an arts venue surrounded by the new high-rises that are starting to line Yonge Street is a bloody miracle.

The word for February 9th is:
Dinghy /ˈdiNGē/ /ˈdɪŋi/: [countable noun]
A small boat for recreation or racing, especially an open boat with a mast and sails.
Early 19th century (denoting a rowing boat used on rivers in India): from Hindi ḍiṅgī. The -gh in English serves to indicate the hard g. Unlike “dingy” where the g has a soft “j” sound! Don’t you just love English?

Author: Willym

A senior with the heart of a young'un

6 thoughts on “Nothing to be done.”

  1. Oh no. I am uneducated. First I got 6/10 identifying countries than end in ‘stan’ for Blobby, and then I get 7/10 on this. I can’t believe I am so bad at being a pessimist. Or maybe it is not surprising at all.

    Maybe I should retake the test and just check all the boxes, since all of the questions after the first allow one to choose both answers?

  2. thank you for the mention. I still like to say ‘nothing to be done’ whenever it seems apt to say it (which is often) and I often refer to Someone a G0-go.

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