Perhaps the most charming book to come our way this season is a splendid little tome, printed in a handsome edition by Tilswich Publishers, on Harrow Street, called Nicknames for Dinner. Its author is none other than Sir Harold Auberon. We had the opportunity, not long ago, to sit with Sir Harold for a chat. What follows is a rough (sorry, hangover) transcript of what was said and by whom.
Me: Nicknames for Dinner reads like a dream.
Sir Harold: Not a frightening one, I should hope.
Me: Certainly not. If you don’t mind my asking, Sir Harold, what was the very first nickname for dinner that occurred to you?
Sir Harold: It’s not a thing one recalls easily. Perhaps it was “Old Down-the-Hatch.”
Me: Forgive me, Sir Harold, but I don’t believe I noticed that one in your compendium.
Sir Harold: Yes, yes—it failed to make the cut, as they say. My book should have been dreadfully thick, had we included them all. Brevity being the soul of wit and all that.
Me: What is your very favorite nickname for dinner, Sir Harold?
Sir Harold: I quite liked “Muggles and Bumps,” until it was pointed out to me that those Harry Potter books make rather a fuss over the word “Muggle.”
Me: Rowling employs the word to indicate characters who lack magical powers.
Sir Harold: Call me a Muggle, then. When the word came to me, some years ago, it suggested the unpleasant sensation one experiences when certain foodstuffs travel down the throat. One thinks of mutton.
Me: Very chewy, that. Do you nickname breakfast, Sir Harold?
Sir Harold: Now and then. Here are two examples: “Old Runny-Funny,” “Bit of Ding-and-Splash.”
Me: I see. Tell us about this one, from page 59: “The Bane of Marriage.” It’s a bit cryptic.
Sir Harold: It didn’t please you, I take it.
Me: It pleased me a great deal, Sir Harold, but I simply haven’t any notion of what it might mean!
Sir Harold: Shall I explain?
Me: Do, Sir Harold, do.
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