Date of publication
Dedicated to Phyllis and Henry Rushbrooke, with love
‘Other New Books: As Others Hear Us’. The Times Literary Supplement, no. 1867, 13 Nov. 1937, pp. 872.
Comic short pieces previously published in Punch and Time and Tide. I. As Others Hear Us (pp1-114): comic dialogues 1 The Reconciliation (pp3-5): two friends attempt to resolve a disagreement, but cannot help bringing up old grievances. 2 With the Difficult Guest (pp6-9): a hostess attempts to feed and entertain a relatively unknown and rather fussy visitor. 3 The New Outlook (pp9-13): two friends discuss the psychology of murderers. 4 Music at Eventide (pp13-16): two sisters attempt to play the violin and the piano, and explain to their deaf father what they are doing. 5 The Interview (pp16-20): Miss Monkley-Welsh, a young aspirant novelist, road-hog and amateur yodeller, is being interviewed by Mrs. Robinson, who is looking for a live-in companion for her great aunt. 6 Last Instructions (pp20-22): a wife and mother gives detailed instructions to a friend who is looking after her house and family while she goes away. 7 Asking for a Job (pp23-25): a young woman visits an employment agency and explains all the things and jobs she couldn’t possibly do. 8 In the Crisis (pp25-28): Cook has given notice, and no replacement can be found. 9 The Country Walk (pp29-31): two friends go for a country walk, and take the opportunity for a good bitch about their mutual friend Winifred. 10 Meeting the Traveller (pp31-34): a woman and her husband collect her mother, and her vast quantities of luggage, some of which is missing, from the railway station. 11 Discussing the Fiancée (pp34-37): Tony has brought his fiancée to meet his mother, sister and aunt, and they discuss her shortcomings. 12 The Mine of Information (pp37-41): pedantic and opinionated Mr Plunk shares his knowledge liberally over tea. 13 The Unselfish Hostess (pp41-45): a house guest is discomfited by her hostess’s well-advertised altruism. 14 The Chairman (pp45-48): prolix and forgetful Sir James takes the chair at a public lecture by a cookery writer. 15 The Mutual Friend (pp49-51): a friend talks up her friends the Potters, who are witty, intelligent, stylish, musical and have perfect children, to a third party who is driven to leave the neighbourhood to avoid them. 16 Inspecting the Prep School (pp51-55): a schoolmaster shows a mother over his school and avoids answering any of her questions. 17 Sitting on the Jubilee (pp55-59): a committee is formed to plan village Jubilee celebrations. 18 Pas Devant (pp59-62): entirely in French so that the servants will not understand, two friends attempt to gossip about a local couple who are divorcing. 19 Discussing the Detective Story (pp62-65): a woman attempts to stop her two friends revealing the plot of the crime novel she is reading. 20 In the Holidays (pp65-67): two children, home for the holidays, are appalled by the prospect of going for a walk and having friends to tea. 21 Choosing a Hat (pp67-70): two women are indecisive about millinery. 22 Visiting Shakespeare (pp70-73): two friends are at the Shakespeare Memorial Theatre in Stratford-upon-Avon, and struggle to recall the plot of Much Ado about Nothing. 23 At the Writing-Table (pp73-76): one woman is struggling to write a letter of complaint about a sweet-stall, abetted by a friend. 24 Looking at our Snapshots (pp77-79): a couple review their holiday photographs. 25 Arranging the Picnic (pp79-83): at a family picnic, it is difficult to pick the right spot that suits everyone. 26 Meeting the Speaker (pp83-86): a kind but nervous host gives a visiting speaker a lift. 27 In the Kitchen (pp86-89): a housewife discusses menus with her cook, and makes various criticisms, and at the end of the conversation, the cook gives notice. 28 After the Symphony Concert (pp89-92): two friends discuss modern music over tea. 29 At the Special School Train (pp92-95): parents crowd the station platform, seeing off their apparently indifferent sons. 30 Winding the Clocks (pp95-97): a married couple discuss matters of timekeeping and lament changes in pronunciation. 31 In the Lower Fourth (pp97-99): two schoolfriends share a funny story. 32 The Fellow-Travellers (pp100-102): two friends quarrel over one’s tendency to self-sacrifice and who should have the last banana. 33 Arranging the Party (pp103-105): a married couple discuss dinner-party seating while one is trying to complete a crossword. 34 The Old Friends Meet (pp105-107): two old colonialists meet by chance in London. 35 Seeking the Lost (pp108-111): a cheque-book is misplaced. 36 Paving the Way: (pp111-114): a wife carefully persuades her husband that they should give a party for their daughter, forestalling his objections to late nights, their children’s friends, American music and make-up. II A Guide to Conversation (pp115-154) Humorous guide to types of conversation, including Amateur Political, Family Conversation (which is very difficult to manage), committee and board meetings, technical conversations while dress shopping and with the dentist, and talking to parents about their children; conversations between parents and teachers, ordinary social conversation and actual truthfulness therein, old furniture, and conversations in hospitals; and finally idle, circular and frustrating conversations. III Charles, Laura and Another (pp155-227) Comic pieces about the domestic and social lives of Charles and his nameless wife Another (the narrator), and her friend Laura. 1 Speaking (pp157-161): a visit to a village fete, and the difficulties of speaking to Cook. 2 The Bark and the Bite (pp161-164): Charles is outraged when a fellow hotel guest smokes a cigar at breakfast. 3 Success (pp164-168): Charles and his wife accidentally bid against each other at a country house auction. 4 The Right-and-Left (pp168-172): reflections on ageing 5 Banks are Like That (pp172-176): the narrator attempts to manage her bank accounts. 6 Those Were the Days (pp176-180): Charles and his wife visit their son at Rugby, and Charles suffers an attack of nostalgia. 7 Domestic Economy (pp180-184): is five pounds, ten shillings and sixpence too much for a rug? 8 The Trope (pp185-188): a literary review remarks on Another’s tendency to metynomy. 9 The New Candour (pp188-192): the family considers a parlour-game based on giving honest, expert opinions on another family member, but soon abandons the idea. 10 The Game (pp192-197): at a lunch party, Charles and Another play a game where everything must be said either in rhyme or blank verse. This proves to be annoying but addictive. 11 The Household Gods (pp197-201): a household inventory and valuation leads the couple to look at their possessions in quite a new light. 12 Biographical (pp201-205): concerns about the intrusive nature of modern biography. 13 Fame (pp205-209): our narrator is surprised to be recognised as an author by the local car-park attendant. 14 The Canines (pp210-214): dentistry, rather than dogs. 15 The Phylloxera (pp214-217): imaginative speculations on the possible meaning of phylloxera. 16 Aunt Julia (pp217-222): our narrator wonders about her pawnbroker’s relationship with her often-pawned diamond and ruby pendant, left to her by Aunt Julia. 17 Enlightenment (pp222-227): an American visitor is helped to understand British currency. IV The New Rosamond (pp229-272) An updated version of Maria Edgeworth’s Rosamond dialogues between a young girl and her mother. The style is Edgeworthian but the subject matter modern. Rosamond and her mother discuss broadcasting and the BBC, the education of boys at public schools, crime fiction, historical novels and modern biography. V With Acknowledgements (pp273-314) 1 Graphology (pp275-278): satirical handwriting analysis 2 The Boot on the Other Leg (pp278-281): what would it be like if the BBC listened in to home life? 3 The Old and the New (pp282-285): combinations of modern social and literary trends into the school story. 4 See England First (pp285-290): how Scotland, Wales and Ireland are represented in fiction. 5 Whither (pp290-295): how China, the USA and the Riviera are represented in fiction. 6 The Summer Outing (pp295-298): a WI meeting discusses plans for its summer outing. 7 Fiction is Stranger than Truth (pp289-303): imagines the correspondence between schools and parents if girls’ school story plots featured in real life. 8 The World of Advertisement (pp303-308): imagines the narratives of magazine advertisements taking place in real life. 9 Tests (pp308-314): an exam paper intended to admit would-be authors into the profession, and a second one for aspirant sportspeople.
comedy short stories