A DAY WITH DR JOHNSON by EDITOR DES
Oh dear… where to start?!
Well, Pauline and Doctor Bob took me to London the other day to enhance my editorial knowledge and skills. We walked along the river from the Tower to Fleet Street, where all the big newspapers used to be published. I noticed Pauline was a bit distracted…worrying that she may have forgotten to include important things in a book she’s written called All Along the River! Too late now, it’s gone to press…mwah ha ha!
I had my photo taken at Dr Samuel Johnson’s statue…he wrote a famous dictionary and is one of Pauline’s great heroes.
Then, we stopped to inspect the sculpture of Samuel’s equally famous cat, Hodge, who was very fond of oysters (yuk!)
We visited his old house and I was allowed to sit on his special chair (Pauline and Dr Bob couldn’t as they weighed far too much)
Oh yes, and you get a pound off the entry fee to the house if you are very old…no names no pack drill! I got in free because we pretended I was under 12 (I’m really 13 and one month).
We saw a library with a couple of the great man’s own books and way up in the attic was the huge DICTIONARY!! I looked up the word LOO because we had been searching for one all morning. It was there, but the word didn’t actually mean toilet back then. I think Dr Johnson called it a privy. For some reason Pauline was very taken by the word mall, which originally meant a sort of hammer. So a mall was an alley where people used to hit a ball with a mall, in a game a bit like croquet. And malleable means soft enough to beat out flatter with a hammer! That is quite interesting I suppose. Pauline said it was a shame we now have malls that are, in her words, ‘completely devoid of character’. She goes to them though!
Dr Bob was thinking about lunch by this time so we went to one of Dr Johnson’s favourite inns…Ye Olde Cheshire Cheese, for beer and pies. Before we went in I was given a lesson about the kings and queens of England because lots of them were written on the wall outside …all the ones who have reigned since the inn was rebuilt in 1667 (an earlier building burnt down in the Great Fire Of London). I only knew about our Elizabeth. It didn’t have anything to do with editing so I was a bit bored to tell you the truth!
You can see Dr Johnson’s favourite chair inside, but even I wasn’t allowed to sit on this one. I wanted a lark pie, which Pauline had told me about, but it turns out they don’t have them anymore. I didn’t bother having anything after that because I was so disappointed. Also, beef ones are a bit suspect these days, aren’t they?
Now I have to say that I learned a lot from Dr Johnston, and now my editing skills have really improved! Yes, and I can prove it. At the end of the day we ended up back at the British Museum and I spotted a mistake in an important big sign in Bloomsbury. Can you spot it??
EAGLE EYED EDITOR DES PUTS HIS NEW SKILLS INTO PRACTISE..OR IS IT PRACTICE??
Well the next day something truly terrible happened to me. I am still far too upset to write about it, but I will soon. I may be using some very rude words about my so called guardians, Pauline and Dr Bob….words I’m not even sure Dr Johnson had in his dictionary. Let me just say that I’m lucky to be here!!
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