After reading this book at bedtime I fell into a restless dream. I dreamed I was at a party, standing quietly in a corner, uncertain of why I was there or what occasion it was. Out of the crowd a nasal voice addressed me, and I turned to see A. S. E. Ackermann staring intently at me. He coughed and repeated his words.
"You know that saying,
That it is Impossible to Get a Fruit Stain out of a Cloth until the Fruit is out of Season?
"Well many people believe it. Anyway, I have proved them wrong. Today I removed blackberry stains from a handkerchief and it's still only August."
"How astonishing. You must be very proud."
"Yes, certainly. I doubt anyone has done the experiment before. On similar lines, you know how some people think
That tobacco is a good thing with which to stop bleeding
"Do they now? Extraordinary. Did you test that one on yourself?"
"No, because First Aid to the Injured by Dr. Peter Shepherd, revised by Robt. Bruce, M.R.C.S says there is great danger of the patient becoming poisoned."
"Speaking of blood, you have doubtless heard from some ill-informed quarters
That Sugar is Made from Bullock's Blood
"You are going to tell me it isn't, aren't you?"
"Well, yes, although interestingly bullock's blood is used in the process. They make charcoal out of it and use that to de-colour the sugar."
"I don't think anyone who eats meat can be fastidious about sugar. But people have strange ideas about food. For instance, some think
That to Smell Bread is an Antidote for Having Eaten Too Much Mustard"
"Oh, I do hope you put that to the test."
"One day perhaps, although I wonder, how much mustard is too much, exactly? It's debatable. Unlike the idea
That Man Possesses a Free Will
"Come now, you are not putting whole schools of philosphers into the same bin as the bread-smelling mustard eaters?"
"Francis Galton, in his memoirs, said he came to see that Free Will does not exist – and that is enough for me."
"Galton was a great statistician but in this case I fear the sample size is too small."
"Hmph. Such foolishness. I'll wager you think
That if your Feet are Wet and you have to keep your Boots on, it is a good thing to poor Whisky into your Boots
I chuckled. "My feet would still be wet, but they would smell of whisky. What a waste."
"Very well then, but perhaps then you are in the faction which holds
That the Primrose was Lord Beaconsfield's favourite flower
"I am not. I find myself on the fence with regard to his floral predilictions."
"Lady Dorothy Nevill and Mr. Gladstone, no less, opined that he preferred the lily."
"Indeed? No-one would argue with that pair."
He looked thoughtful for a moment, then a smile came to his lips. "Even so I am sure you believe
That Frankenstein was a monster, as is implied in the phrase 'The monster Frankenstein'
At which point I awoke, finding my sheets all tangled around me and the duvet on the floor.