Sir Harold: One’s wife says, “What shall it be?” To which one replies, sheepishly, “For dinner, then?” The wife nods. “Let’s see,” one says, while trying not to pull a face. Not a few divorces are rooted in this dinner business, I should imagine. Deciding what one shall eat. Deciding where one shall eat it. That kind of thing. Seen in that light, “The Bane of Marriage” should become clear.
Sir Harold: Interestingly, when one finds oneself alone, one simply rings the bell and feels quite content.
Me: Too true, Sir Harold. What about this one, page 36: “The Butler’s Friend?”
Sir Harold: When I was a lad, we had a butler named Jules. Round about 11 o’clock, summer nights, I would find this old fellow seated at a homely wooden table in the back kitchen, serviette tucked into his collar, like so. I once worked up the courage to inquire, “Having a snack, Jules?” “Why, no, young Harry,” he replied, “this would be dinner.” “Dinner?” said I. “At this late hour?” To which Jules replied, “Why, yes, Harry, dinner is the butler’s friend.”
Me: Curious fellow! But was he a very wonderful man?
Sir Harold: I should say he was.
Me: I should like to mention a few more of your nicknames so that I might hear your reactions to them.
Sir Harold: You are a most brutal interviewer. Have at it.
Me: “Hot Stuff.”
Sir Harold: Rather speaks for itself, I should think.
Sir Harold: Certain dinners fairly cry out for a dash of pepper, that’s all.
Me: This one’s a bit of a puzzle: “Dessert-Hurdle.”
Sir Harold: At times a man feels he must fairly leap over dinner to get to the sweets. The meal seems a bother when a gooseberry pie awaits, or perhaps a vanilla pudding.
Me: You are a champion dinner-nicknamer, Sir Harold. Will there be a sequel to Nicknames for Dinner?
Sir Harold: Heavens, no. I’ve a firm to run, people to see and all that. This book is but an amusement, a memento to let the world know “Sir Harold was here and he had a little something to say about it.”
Me: You are too modest, Sir Harold.
Sir Harold: Perhaps. All this talk of dinner has put me in mind of having a little something. Would you care to join me, young man, for a little “Bumps-on-a-Plate?”
Me: Sir Harold! It would be my pleasure.