J.B. Priestly delighting in his
typewriter and pipe
I got my hands on this book, published in 1949, through an inter-library loan. Hooray for my public library. It actually came from the shelf of the University of Louisville Ekstrom Library so it didn't have far to travel. Maybe two miles...
Anyway, Priestly, a self-professed grumbler, wrote this book with the intent of helping raise the morale of the British people after the end of World War II by giving them reasons to rejoice of life's simple pleasures. It contains 114 short essays on such delights as fountains, smoking, a gin and tonic, old photographs, charades, a walk in the pine wood. Easy enough to be delighted by any of those (except maybe the smoking!)
But digging deeper, Mr. Priestly comes up with such pleasures as: not going, suddenly doing nothing, discovering Vermeer, a first time abroad, found money, orchestras tuning up, and departing guests.
The longest essay here runs to maybe three pages; most fit on one page or two. All are written in the richest of language and with more than a twinkling of humor. If you can get your hands on a copy of this Delight, I don't think you will be disappointed.
And it may get you to thinking about some of your own delights. It certainly did me.
You will see what I mean. Here is Number Fifty-one:
There is a peculiar delight, which I can still experience though I knew it best as a boy, in cosily reading about foul weather when equally foul weather is beating hard against the windows, when one is securely poised between the wind and rain and sleet outside and the wind and rain and sleet that leap from the page into the mind. The old romancers must have been aware of this odd little bonus of pleasure for the reader, and probably that is why so many of their narratives, to give them a friendly start, began with solitary horsemen, cloaked to the eyebrows, riding through the night on urgent business for the Duke, sustained by nothing more than an occasional and dubious ragout or pasty and a gulp or two of sour wine (always fetched by surly innkeepers or their scowling slatterns), on side-roads deep in mire, with wind, rain, thunder-and-lightning, sleet, hail, snow, all turned on at the full. With the windows rattling away and hailstones drumming at the paper in the fireplace, snug in bed except for one cold elbow, I have travelled thousands and thousands of mucky miles with these fellows, braving the foulest nights, together crying "Bah!"