Thrown a Curve

Lots of delightful reading the past few weeks, and some interesting turns of phrase therein.

The Uncommon Reader (2007), an entertaining novel by Alan Bennett, is veddy, veddy English, concerning, as it does, the Queen herself. An expression struck me (so to speak), and, sure enough, it’s thoroughly British, deriving from the game of cricket.

The story’s partially fictionalized Queen takes up reading late in life, and her new obsession throws her courtiers and family off balance. Bennett, who starred with Jonathan Miller, Dudley Moore, and Peter Cook in the comedy ensemble Beyond the Fringe, and who wrote The Madness of King George and The History Boys, gets off lots of droll commentary on Brit lit and current events. His language is waggishly clever.

Because of her job, the Queen has always been adept at small talk. Meeting so many strangers, she’s developed the social skill of saying nothing but putting people at ease. Reading evokes a more curious side in her: she begins asking her subjects what they’re reading.

What? Is the Queen going to judge me if I’m reading the latest Sophie Kinsella? What if I’m not reading at all?’ Her interlocutors are tongue-tied. In their embarrassment, they resentfully suspect that the Queen has bowled them a wobbly.

“Bowling,” as it turns out, is what our baseball pitchers do, i.e., throwing. A “wobbly” is a pitch that wobbles as it approaches the batsman. Like baseball’s curveball or screwball, the wobbly confounds the batsman. The pitch’s physics is quite a science and quite a hot topic. See here to learn more.

I’m way behind the wicket, of course. Cricket is big everywhere, even in America, as this PBS Newshour story makes clear. At first, as I was reading, I bobbled Bennett’s wobbly and resorted to Google, but have now volubly cobbled some twaddle here to toggle your noggins.

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7 Responses to Thrown a Curve

  1. Kathy says:

    Jewel and Roger — Glad I made you laugh!

  2. Kathy says:

    Sarah B. — You would love The Uncommon Reader!

  3. Kathy says:

    Sarah M.–Loved The Uncommon Reader!

  4. Sarah May says:

    So glad you are having fun with Alan Bennett. Great!

  5. Sarah Becker says:

    You have reminded me of The Crown, season 1, episode 7, Scientia Potentia Est.
    The young Elizabeth feels that her education has been lacking (and I agree), so she hires a tutor, excellently portrayed by veteran actor Alan Williams. As it turns out, she had enough education to chastise any peer of the realm or Prime Minister who needed it!

  6. Jewel Moulthrop says:

    I am laughing! You hit it out of the park!

  7. Roger Talbott says:

    You made me laugh! Thank you!

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