Wednesday, 1 February 2012

My apologies to Kipling


My apologies to Kipling

While waiting at Old Town Hall, where my youngest are in a theatre group, Town Hall Kids, I opened “In Spite of Myself” to begin my text for the next years of my life.
It didn’t take me find a quote to look up. Chapter 1, page 1, bottom of page.
“But I like Byng, my dog, because
He doesn’t know how to behave
So Byng’s the same as the First Friend was
And I am the Man in the Cave
(Apologies to Kipling)”
Kipling, eh?  I had never read him before. I loved this!  It is from a short story named, “The Cat Who Walked By Himself.”. It was brilliant.  It reminded me of stories I heard as a child, or made up as a child. Lots of repetition, lots of alliteration but great tale of how Woman domesticated man, dog, horse, and cow, but never the cat. Explains so much….
Kipling knows how to weave a theme throughout his prose. When Man lines up 5 items to throw at the Cat, then throws 3 of them at the Cat because he can, it proves 3/5 upstanding men detest cats.
It sounds better when Kipling writes it.
This story was a quick read. It would be wonderful to read as a bedtime story to children - full of talking animals, smart women, and men who think they are in charge.
The descriptions of each animal (and person) as they are domesticated is quite funny - seems true to each animal’s character. Dog - First Friend. Horse - First Servant. Cow - Giver of Good Food. Cat stays the Cat. He is the cleverest of them all, always aloof and always (seemingly) in charge.
I am not sure how Kipling would take the quote as changed by Christopher Plummer. You see, the poem he quotes is about the wonderful Cat being the hero. I don’t think Kipling would approve the dog being changed to the beloved animal of the story.  It would change the meaning of the story. Hence, Mr Plummer’s apology, I’m guessing…
Having read this memoir prior, I learned of his love of dogs. My Luke even brought up Mr Plummer’s love of dogs when he made a video to win the tickets to the Stratford Festival’s Gala for him last year. (actually, watch the outtakes of me making my entry with the kids.  My favourite is “Why not Arora?”  Braeden is a natural comedian).
I’m happy I’m following through with this blog.  Talk about a lifelong project.  I wonder how long it’s going to take?  I won’t wiki my way out of it.  I will read the entire project that is quoted.  Self-earned English Lit degree? It will feel so good!
And I will feel so much better about my english education.

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