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Saturday, 14 January 2012

Saturday Rave: A Pattern of Islands by Arthur Grimble.

Is it possible for a man called Arthur Grimble to be a hero?

Well, only a very shy, gangling, diffident sort of a hero: and that is what Arthur Grimble proves himself to be in A Pattern of Islands.

A Pattern of Islands is the autobiography of a young English man who in 1914 sails out to the Gilbert Islands, small fragments of land about half way between Fiji and Hawaii. He 's an ignoramus and a fool, but he has the grace to recognise this.

And this, of course, is the first step towards wisdom.

The islands are a place of wonder and romance.

This is Grimble on the subject of cockroaches.

...we decided at last to count them in as an essential ingredient of the Pacific romance - it was either that or die of daily horror - and our only incurable pedantry about them was to keep them, if or when possible, out of the soup.

And here he is on sorcery:

...crowding in at you out of the dark the ghosts of the dead and the Things that lurked in things were the prowling familiars...It seems a marvel that the race remained cheerful under so many dreads, for it did remain cheerful.

And so does Arthur Grimble, mostly: cheerful, and full of love and respect for the islands and the wisdom of their people.

A true hero.

Word To Use Today: Pacific. The Pacific was named the Pacific by Ferdinand Magellan upon first sailing into it in 1521 (it had been called the South Sea before that). Mar Pacifico means peaceful sea.

Talk about a snap judgement...

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