Saturday, August 24, 2013

Amber Alert

This just in; the subject is museum guards:

I knew all those old fellows in uniform well.  It was a funny life they led … One of the things they had to do  was to look out for bomb-throwers.  Why people should want to throw bombs or set infernal machines in museums, of all places, I don’t know.  But they do -- or, at all events, it is always expected that they will.  That’s why the attendants won’t allow visitors to bring in parcels:  they are afraid they may contain dynamite.

From this evening’s headlines?  No.  The speaker is a little mouse, telling his tale to Doctor Dolittle, in a book from 1925, Doctor Dolittle’s Zoo (p. 134).  (The expression "infernal machines", now obsolete, dates from then and earlier.) It is the most wholesome, and generally uneventful, narrative you can imagine;  my wife and I have been reading from it as a bedtime story (it is, one must confess, somewhat soporific, but  in the circumstances  that is all to the purpose).    So it was startling to read of this scene, foreshadowing the TSA scanning your baggage for forbidden shampoo.

For further examples of the theme “Nothing New Under the Sun”, click here.
For more about nice Dr Dolittle, here.

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