A.A. Milne.

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There is this of romance about lunch, that one can imagine great
adventures with stockbrokers, actor-managers, publishers, and
other demigods to have had their birth at the luncheon table. If
it is a question of "bulling" margarine or "bearing" boot-polish,
if the name for the new play is still unsettled, if there is some
idea of an American edition - whatever the emergency, the final
word on the subject is always the same, "Come and have lunch with
me, and we'll talk it over"; and when the waiter has taken your
hat and coat, and you have looked diffidently at the menu, and in
reply to your host's question, "What will you drink?" have made
the only possible reply, "Oh, anything that you're drinking"
(thus showing him that you don't insist on a bottle to yourself)-
-THEN you settle down to business, and the history of England is
enlarged by who can say how many pages.

And not only does one inaugurate business matters at lunch, but
one also renews old friendships. Who has not had said to him in
the Strand, "Hallo, old fellow, I haven't seen you for ages; you
must come and lunch with me one day"? And who has not answered,
"Rather! I should love to," and passed on with a glow at the
heart which has not died out until the next day, when the
incident is forgotten? An invitation to dinner is formal, to tea
unnecessary, to breakfast impossible, but there is a casualness,
very friendly and pleasant, about invitations to lunch which make
them complete in themselves, and in no way dependent on any lunch
which may or may not follow.

Without having exhausted the subject of lunch in London (and I
should like to say that it is now certain that I shall not have
time to partake to-day), let us consider for a moment lunch in
the country. I do not mean lunch in the open air, for it is
obvious that there is no meal so heavenly as lunch thus eaten,
and in a short article like this I have no time in which to dwell
upon the obvious. I mean lunch at a country house. Now, the most
pleasant feature of lunch at a country house is this - that you
may sit next to whomsoever you please. At dinner she may be
entrusted to quite the wrong man; at breakfast you are faced with
the problem of being neither too early for her nor yet too late
for a seat beside her; at tea people have a habit of taking your
chair at the moment when a simple act of courtesy has drawn you
from it in search of bread and butter; but at lunch you follow
her in and there you are - fixed.

But there is a place, neither London nor the country, which
brings out more than any other place all that is pleasant in
lunch. It was really the recent experience of this which set me
writing about lunch. Lunch in the train! It should be the "second
meal" - about 1.30 - because then you are really some distance
from London and are hungry. The panorama flashes by outside,
nearer and nearer comes the beautiful West; you cross rivers and
hurry by little villages, you pass slowly and reverently through
strange old towns ... and, inside, the waiter leaves the potatoes
next to you and slips away.

Well, it is his own risk. Here goes. ... What I say is that, if a
man really likes potatoes, he must be a pretty decent sort of

The Friend of Man

When swords went out of fashion, walking-sticks, I suppose, came
into fashion. The present custom has its advantages. Even in his
busiest day the hero's sword must have returned at times to its
scabbard, and what would he do then with nothing in his right
hand? But our walking-sticks have no scabbards. We grasp them
always, ready at any moment to summon a cab, to point out a view,
or to dig an enemy in the stomach. Meanwhile we slash the air in
defiance of the world.

My first stick was a malacca, silver at the collar and polished
horn as to the handle. For weeks it looked beseechingly at me
from a shop window, until a lucky birthday tip sent me in after
it. We went back to school together that afternoon, and if
anything can lighten the cloud which hangs over the last day of
holidays, it is the glory of some such stick as mine. Of course
it was too beautiful to live long; yet its death became it. I had
left many a parental umbrella in the train unhonoured and unsung.
My malacca was mislaid in an hotel in Norway. And even now when
the blinds are drawn and we pull up our chairs closer round the
wood fire, what time travellers tell to awestruck stay-at-homes
tales of adventure in distant lands, even now if by a lucky
chance Norway is mentioned, I tap the logs carelessly with the
poker and drawl, "I suppose you didn't happen to stay at
Vossvangen? I left a malacca cane there once. Rather a good one
too." So that there is an impression among my friends that there
is hardly a town in Europe but has had its legacy from me. And
this I owe to my stick.

My last is of ebony, ivory-topped. Even though I should spend
another fortnight abroad I could not take this stick with me. It
is not a stick for the country; its heart is in Piccadilly.
Perhaps it might thrive in Paris if it could stand the sea
voyage. But no, I cannot see it crossing the Channel; in a cap I
am no companion for it. Could I step on to the boat in a silk hat
and then retire below - but I am always unwell below, and that
would not suit its dignity. It stands now in a corner of my room
crying aloud to be taken to the opera. I used to dislike men who
took canes to Covent Garden, but I see now how it must have been
with them. An ebony stick topped with ivory has to be humoured.
Already I am considering a silk-lined cape, and it is settled
that my gloves are to have black stitchings.

Such is my last stick, for it was given to me this very morning.
At my first sight of it I thought that it might replace the
common one which I lost in an Easter train. That was silly of me.
I must have a stick of less gentle birth which is not afraid to
be seen with a soft hat. It must be a stick which I can drop, or
on occasion kick; one with which I can slash dandelions; one for
which, when ultimately I leave it in a train, conscience does not
drag me to Scotland Yard. In short, a companionable stick for a
day's journey; a country stick.

The ideal country stick will never be found. It must be thick
enough to stand much rough usage of a sort which I will explain
presently, and yet it must be thin so that it makes a pleasant
whistling sound through the air. Its handle must be curved so
that it can pull down the spray of blossom of which you are in
need, or pull up the luncheon basket which you want even more
badly, and yet it must be straight so that you can drive an old
golf ball with it. It must be unadorned, so that it shall lack
ostentation, and yet it must have a band, so that when you throw
stones at it you can count two if you hit the silver. You begin
to see how difficult it is to achieve the perfect stick.

Well, each one of us must let go those properties which his own
stick can do best without. For myself I insist on this - my stick
must be good for hitting and good to hit with. A stick, we are
agreed, is something to have in the hand when walking. But there
are times when we sit down; and if our journey shall have taken
us to the beach, our stick must at once be propped in the sand
while from a suitable distance we throw stones at it. However
beautiful the sea, its beauty can only be appreciated properly in
this fashion. Scenery must not be taken at a gulp; we must absorb
it unconsciously. With the mind gently exercised as to whether we
scored a two on the band or a one just below it, and with the
muscles of the arm at stretch, we are in a state ideally
receptive of beauty.

And, for my other essential of a country stick, it must be
possible to grasp it by the wrong end and hit a ball with it. So
it must have no ferrule, and the handle must be heavy and
straight. In this way was golf born; its creator roamed the
fields after his picnic lunch, knocking along the cork from his
bottle. At first he took seventy-nine from the gate in one field
to the oak tree in the next; afterwards fifty-four. Then suddenly
he saw the game. We cannot say that he w;is no lover of Nature.
The desire to knock a ball about, to play silly games with a
stick, comes upon a man most keenly when he is happy; let it be
ascribed that he is happy to the streams and the hedges and the
sunlight through the trees. And so let my stick have a handle
heavy and straight, and let there be no ferrule on the end. Be
sure that I have an old golf ball in my pocket.

In London one is not so particular. Chiefly we want a stick for
leaning on when we are talking to an acquaintance suddenly met.
After the initial "Hulloa!" and the discovery that we have
nothing else of importance to say, the situation is distinctly
eased by the remembrance of our stick. It gives us a support
moral and physical, such as is supplied in a drawing-room by a
cigarette. For this purpose size and shape are immaterial. Yet
this much is essential - it must not be too slippery, or in our
nervousness we may drop it altogether. My ebony stick with the
polished ivory top -

But I have already decided that my ebony stick is out of place
with the everyday hat. It stands in its corner waiting for the
opera season, I must get another stick for rough work.

The Diary Habit

A newspaper has been lamenting the decay of the diary-keeping
habit, with the natural result that several correspondents have
written to say that they have kept diaries all their lives. No
doubt all these diaries now contain the entry, "Wrote to the
Daily - - to deny the assertion that the diary-keeping habit is
on the wane." Of such little things are diaries made.

I suppose this is the reason why diaries are so rarely kept
nowadays - that nothing ever happens to anybody. A diary would be
worth writing up if it could be written like this: -

MONDAY. - "Another exciting day. Shot a couple of hooligans on my
way to business and was forced to give my card to the police. On
arriving at the office was surprised to find the building on
fire, but was just in time to rescue the confidential treaty
between England and Switzerland. Had this been discovered by the
public, war would infallibly have resulted. Went out to lunch and
saw a runaway elephant in the Strand. Thought little of it at the
time, but mentioned it to my wife in the evening. She agreed that
it was worth recording."

TUESDAY. - "Letter from solicitor informing me that I have come
into œ1,000,000 through the will of an Australian gold-digger
named Tomkins. On referring to my diary I find that I saved his
life two years ago by plunging into the Serpentine. This is very
gratifying. Was late at the office as I had to look in at the
Palace on the way, in order to get knighted, but managed to get a
good deal of work done before I was interrupted by a madman with
a razor, who demanded œ100. Shot him after a desperate struggle.
Tea at an ABC, where I met the Duke of - -. Fell into the Thames
on my way home, but swam ashore without difficulty."

Alas! we cannot do this. Our diaries are very prosaic, very dull
indeed. They read like this: -

Monday. - "Felt inclined to stay in bed this morning and send an
excuse to the office, but was all right after a bath and
breakfast. Worked till 1.30 and had lunch. Afterwards worked till
five, and had my hair cut on the way home. After dinner read A
Man's Passion, by Theodora Popgood. Rotten. Went to bed at

Tuesday. - "Had a letter from Jane. Did some good work in the
morning, and at lunch met Henry, who asked me to play golf with
him on Saturday. Told him I was playing with Peter, but said I
would like a game with him on the Saturday after. However, it
turned out he was playing with William then, so we couldn't fix
anything up. Bought a pair of shoes on my way home, but think
they will be too tight. The man says, though, that they will

Wednesday. - "Played dominoes at lunch and won fivepence."

If this sort of diary is now falling into decay, the world is not
losing much. But at least it is a harmless pleasure to some to
enter up their day's doings each evening, and in years to come it
may just possibly be of interest to the diarist to know that it
was on Monday, 27th April, that he had his hair cut. Again, if in
the future any question arose as to the exact date of Henry's
decease, we should find in this diary proof that anyhow he was
alive as late as Tuesday, 28th April. That might, though it
probably won't, be of great importance. But there is another sort
of diary which can never be of any importance at all. I make no
apology for giving a third selection of extracts.

Monday. - "Rose at nine and came down to find a letter from Mary.
How little we know our true friends! Beneath the mask of outward
affection there may lurk unknown to us the serpent's tooth of
jealousy. Mary writes that she can make nothing for my stall at
the bazaar as she has her own stall to provide for. Ate my
breakfast mechanically, my thoughts being far away. What, after
all, is life? Meditated deeply on the inner cosmos till lunch-
time. Afterwards I lay down for an hour and composed my mind. I
was angry this morning with Mary. Ah, how petty! Shall I never be
free from the bonds of my own nature? Is the better self within
me never to rise to the sublime heights of selflessness of which
it is capable? Rose at four and wrote to Mary, forgiving her.
This has been a wonderful day for the spirit."

Yes; I suspect that a good many diaries record adventures of the
mind and soul for lack of stirring adventures to the body. If
they cannot say, "Attacked by a lion in Bond Street to-day," they
can at least say, "Attacked by doubt in St. Paul's Cathedral."
Most people will prefer, in the absence of the lion, to say
nothing, or nothing more important than "Attacked by the
hairdresser with a hard brush"; but there are others who must get
pen to paper somehow, and who find that only in regard to their
emotions have they anything unique to say.

But, of course, there is ever within the breasts of all diarists
the hope that their diaries may some day be revealed to the
world. They may be discovered by some future generation, amazed
at the simple doings of the twentieth century, or their
publication may be demanded by the next generation, eager to know
the inner life of the great man just dead. Best of all, they may
be made public by the writers themselves in their

Yes; the diarist must always have his eye on a possible
autobiography. "I remember," he will write in that great work,
having forgotten all about it, "I distinctly remember" - and here
he will refer to his diary - "meeting X. at lunch one Sunday and
saying to him ..."

What he said will not be of much importance, but it will show you
what a wonderful memory the distinguished author retains in his
old age.

Midsummer Day

There is magic in the woods on Midsummer Day - so people tell me.
Titania conducts her revels. Let others attend her court; for
myself I will beg to be excused. I have no heart for revelling on
Midsummer Day. On any other festival I will be as jocund as you
please, but on the longest day of the year I am overburdened by
the thought that from this moment the evenings are beginning to
draw in. We are on the way to winter.

It is on Midsummer Day, or thereabouts, that the cuckoo changes
his tune, knowing well that the best days are over and that in a
little while it will be time for him to fly away. I should like
this to be a learned article on "The Habits of the Cuckoo," and
yet, if it were, I doubt if I should love him at the end of it.
It is best to know only the one thing of him, that he lays his
eggs in another bird's nest - a friendly idea - and beyond that to
take him as we find him. And we find that his only habit which
matters is the delightful one of saying "Cuckoo."

The nightingale is the bird of melancholy, the thrush sings a
disturbing song of the good times to come, the blackbird whistles
a fine, cool note which goes best with a February morning, and
the skylark trills his way to a heaven far out of the reach of
men; and what the lesser white-throat says I have never rightly
understood. But the cuckoo is the bird of present joys; he keeps
us company on the lawns of summer, he sings under a summer sun in
a wonderful new world of blue and green. I think only happy
people hear him. He is always about when one is doing pleasant
things. He never sings when the sun hides behind banks of clouds,
or if he does, it is softly to himself so that he may not lose
the note. Then "Cuckoo!" he says aloud, and you may be sure that
everything is warm and bright again.

But now he is leaving us. Where he goes I know not, but I think
of him vaguely as at Mozambique, a paradise for all good birds
who like their days long. If geography were properly taught at
schools, I should know where Mozambique was, and what sort of
people live there. But it may be that, with all these cuckoos
cuckooing and swallows swallowing from July to April, the country
is so full of immigrants that there is no room for a stable
population. It may also be, of course, that Mozambique is not the
place I am thinking of; yet it has a birdish sound.

The year is arranged badly. If Mr. Willett were alive he would do
something about it. Why should the days begin to get shorter at
the moment when summer is fully arrived? Why should it be
possible for the vicar to say that the evenings are drawing in,
when one is still having strawberries for tea? Sometimes I think
that if June were called August, and April June, these things
would be easier to bear. The fact that in what is now called
August we should be telling each other how wonderfully hot it was
for October would help us to bear the slow approach of winter. On
a Midsummer Day in such a calendar one would revel gladly, and
there would be no midsummer madness.

Already the oak trees have taken on an autumn look. I am told
that this is due to a local irruption of caterpillars, and not to
the waning of the summer, but it has a suspicious air. Probably
the caterpillars knew. It seems strange now to reflect that there
was a time when I liked caterpillars; when I chased them up
suburban streets, and took them home to fondle them; when I knew
them all by their pretty names, assisted them to become
chrysalises, and watched over them in that unprotected state as
if I had been their mother. Ah, how dear were my little charges
to me then! But now I class them with mosquitoes and blight and
harvesters, the pests of the countryside. Why, I would let them
crawl up my arm in those happy days of old, and now I cannot even
endure to have them dropping gently into my hair. And I should
not know what to say to a chrysalis.

There are great and good people who know all about solstices and
zeniths, and they can tell you just why it is that 24th June is
so much hotter and longer than 24th December - why it is so in
England, I should say. For I believe (and they will correct me if
I am wrong) that at the equator the days and nights are always of
equal length. This must make calling almost an impossibility, for
if one cannot say to one's hostess, "How quickly the days are
lengthening (or drawing in)," one might as well remain at home.
"How stationary the days are remaining" might pass on a first
visit, but the old inhabitants would not like it rubbed into
them. They feel, I am sure, that however saddening a Midsummer
Day may be, an unchanging year is much more intolerable. One can
imagine the superiority of a resident who lived a couple of miles
off the equator, and took her visitors proudly to the end of the
garden where the seasons were most mutable. There would be no
bearing with her.

In these circumstances I refuse to be depressed. I console myself
with the thought that if 25th June is the beginning of winter, at
least there is a next summer to which I may look forward. Next
summer anything may happen. I suppose a scientist would be
considerably surprised if the sun refused to get up one morning,
or, having got up, declined to go to bed again. It would not
surprise ME. The amazing thing is that Nature goes on doing the
same things in the same way year after year; any sudden little
irrelevance on her part would be quite understandable. When the
wise men tell us so confidently that there will be an eclipse of
the sun in 1921, invisible at Greenwich, do they have no qualms
of doubt as the day draws near? Do they glance up from their
whitebait at the appointed hour, just in case it IS visible after
all? Or if they have journeyed to Pernambuco, or wherever the
best view is to be obtained, do they wonder ... perhaps ... and
tell each other the night before that, of course, they were
coming to Pernambuco anyhow, to see an aunt?

Perhaps they don't. But for myself I am not so certain, and I
have hopes that, certainly next year, possibly even this year,
the days will go on lengthening after midsummer is over.

At the Bookstall

I have often longed to be a grocer. To be surrounded by so many
interesting things - sardines, bottled raspberries, biscuits with
sugar on the top, preserved ginger, hams, brawn under glass,
everything in fact that makes life worth living; at one moment to
walk up a ladder in search of nutmeg, at the next to dive under a
counter in pursuit of cinnamon; to serve little girls with a
ha'porth of pear drops and lordly people like you and me with a
pint of cherry gin - is not this to follow the king of trades?
Some day I shall open a grocer's shop, and you will find me in my
spare evenings aproned behind the counter. Look out for the
currants in the window as you come in - I have an idea for
something artistic in the way of patterns there; but, as you love
me, do not offer to buy any. We grocers only put the currants out
for show, and so that we may run our fingers through them
luxuriously when business is slack. I have a good line in
shortbreads, madam, if I can find the box, but no currants this
evening, I beg you.

Yes, to be a grocer is to live well; but, after all, it is not to
see life. A grocer, in as far as it is possible to a man who
sells both scented soap and pilchards, would become narrow. We do
not come into contact with the outside world much, save through
the medium of potted lobster, and to sell a man potted lobster is
not to have our fingers on his pulse. Potted lobster does not
define a man. All customers are alike to the grocer, provided
their money is good. I perceive now that I was over-hasty in
deciding to become a grocer. That is rather for one's old age.
While one is young, and interested in persons rather than in
things, there is only one profession to follow - the profession of
bookstall clerk.

To be behind a bookstall is indeed to see life. The fascination
of it struck me suddenly as 1 stood in front of a station
bookstall last Monday and wondered who bought the tie-clips. The
answer came to me just as I got into my train - Ask the man
behind the bookstall. He would know. Yes, and he would know who
bought all his papers and books and pamphlets, and to know this
is to know something about the people in the world. You cannot
tell a man by the lobster he eats, but you can tell something
about him by the literature he reads.

For instance, I once occupied a carriage on an eastern line with,
among others, a middle-aged woman. As soon as we left Liverpool
Street she produced a bag of shrimps, grasped each individual in
turn firmly by the head and tail, and ate him. When she had
finished, she emptied the ends out of the window, wiped her
hands, and settled down comfortably to her paper. What paper?
You'll never guess; I shall have to tell you - The Morning Post.
Now doesn't that give you the woman? The shrimps alone, no; the
paper alone, no; but the two to-gether. Conceive the holy joy of
the bookstall clerk as she and her bag of shrimps - yes, he could
have told at once they were shrimps - approached and asked for The
Morning Post.

The day can never be dull to the bookstall clerk. I imagine him
assigning in his mind the right paper to each customer. This man
will ask for Golfing - wrong, he wants Cage Birds; that one over
there wants The Motor - ah, well, The Auto-Car, that's near
enough. Soon he would begin to know the different types; he would
learn to distinguish between the patrons of The Dancing Times and
of The Vote, The Era and The Athenaeum. Delightful surprises
would overwhelm him at intervals; as when - a red-letter day in
all the great stations - a gentleman in a check waistcoat makes

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