Friday, 6 February 2009

Sprouting Lawrence

Out walking on the southern fringes of Market Harborough on Wednesday, I was suddenly taken with the desire to dodge behind the hedge that bordered an acre or so of allotments. Contemplating the view I espied these stalks sprouting up out of the snow. And it all came back to me- D.H.Lawrences's short story Daughters of the Vicar. One of the eponymous offspring, Louisa, escapes the stifling atmosphere of the vicarage on a snowy Christmas afternoon to visit her friend Mrs.Durant. "In the valley that was black with trees, the colliery breathed in stertorous pants, sending out high conical columns of steam that remained upright, whiter than the snow on the hills, yet shadowy, in the dead air." Louisa can't raise anyone at the cottage, and peeping in she sees "the scarlet glow of the kitchen, red firelight falling on the brick floor and on the bright chintz cushions". Going out into the cold snowy garden as "On the left, overhead, the little colliery train rumbled by", she finds Mrs.Durant collapsed amongst the cabbages, whimpering with pain. "I've - I've - I was pulling up a brussel-sprout stalk - and - oh-h! - something tore inside me.." The story is one of a dozen in The Prussian Officer, first published in 1914.

4 comments:

Chris Frumplington said...

Reading that short extract, I was quite struck by the phrase 'stertorous pants'. I think I might buy a pair. Sounds like the kind of garment to keep one warm in all the chilly weather we've had lately.

Peter Ashley said...

Do you know Chris, as soon as I'd quoted that phrase I wondered how long it would before underwear or trousers were mentioned. As you have probably noticed in this and adjoining blogs, my legwear has recently been coming under close scrutiny. Just watch out below. They'll go on about 'trizers', but nothing about the importance of Lawrence in early twentieth century coalmining.

Ron Combo said...

By the way, have you had the herringbones endurance tested yet?

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