Tuesday, September 04, 2018

Three Men in a Boat

Photo from krish kedia at SlideShare

Three Men in a Boat by Jerome K. Jerome is an 1889 comic account of a two-week boating holiday on the Thames. From what I've read the tour is reproducible today down to some of the pubs they went to. In observance of T Stands for Tuesday, I'd invite you to join me in a virtual ale at The Barley Mow:

photo by Ian Brackenridge from Wikipedia

from the book:
If you stay the night on land at Clifton, you cannot do better than put up at the "Barley Mow." It is, without exception, I should say, the quaintest, most old-world inn up the river. It stands on the right of the bridge, quite away from the village. Its low-pitched gables and thatched roof and latticed windows give it quite a story-book appearance, while inside it is even still more once-upon-a-timeyfied.
Here are a few more drink-related quotes I liked:
Harris always does know a place round the corner where you can get something brilliant in the drinking line. I believe that if you met Harris up in Paradise (supposing such a thing likely), he would immediately greet you with:

"So glad you've come, old fellow; I've found a nice place round the corner here, where you can get some really first-class nectar."
She was nuts on public-houses, was England's Virgin Queen. There's scarcely a pub. of any attractions within ten miles of London that she does not seem to have looked in at, or stopped at, or slept at, some time or other. I wonder now, supposing Harris, say, turned over a new leaf, and became a great and good man, and got to be Prime Minister, and died, if they would put up signs over the public-houses that he had patronised: "Harris had a glass of bitter in this house;" "Harris had two of Scotch cold here in the summer of `88;" "Harris was chucked from here in December, 1886."

No, there would be too many of them! It would be the houses that he had never entered that would become famous. "Only house in South London that Harris never had a drink in!" The people would flock to it to see what could have been the matter with it.
I reminded him that there was concentrated lemonade in the hamper, and a gallon-jar of water in the nose of the boat, and that the two only wanted mixing to make a cool and refreshing beverage.

Then he flew off about lemonade, and "such-like Sunday-school slops," as he termed them, ginger-beer, raspberry syrup, &c., &c. He said they all produced dyspepsia, and ruined body and soul alike, and were the cause of half the crime in England.

He said he must drink something, however, and climbed upon the seat, and leant over to get the bottle. It was right at the bottom of the hamper, and seemed difficult to find, and he had to lean over further and further, and, in trying to steer at the same time, from a topsy-turvy point of view, he pulled the wrong line, and sent the boat into the bank, and the shock upset him, and he dived down right into the hamper, and stood there on his head, holding on to the sides of the boat like grim death, his legs sticking up into the air. He dared not move for fear of going over, and had to stay there till I could get hold of his legs, and haul him back, and that made him madder than ever.
It took us half an hour's hard labour, after that, before it was properly up, and then we cleared the decks, and got out supper. We put the kettle on to boil, up in the nose of the boat, and went down to the stern and pretended to take no notice of it, but set to work to get the other things out.

That is the only way to get a kettle to boil up the river. If it sees that you are waiting for it and are anxious, it will never even sing. You have to go away and begin your meal, as if you were not going to have any tea at all. You must not even look round at it. Then you will soon hear it sputtering away, mad to be made into tea.

It is a good plan, too, if you are in a great hurry, to talk very loudly to each other about how you don't need any tea, and are not going to have any. You get near the kettle, so that it can overhear you, and then you shout out, "I don't want any tea; do you, George?" to which George shouts back, "Oh, no, I don't like tea; we'll have lemonade instead - tea's so indigestible." Upon which the kettle boils over, and puts the stove out.

We adopted this harmless bit of trickery, and the result was that, by the time everything else was ready, the tea was waiting. Then we lit the lantern, and squatted down to supper.

We wanted that supper.

There's a fun section here about the trials of opening a can of pineapple. I'd heartily recommend this book if you like humorous anecdotes well told.

You can read the entire book online here. The book begins with this:
There were four of us -George, and William Samuel Harris, and myself, and Montmorency. We were sitting in my room, smoking, and talking about how bad we were -bad from a medical point of view I mean, of course.

We were all feeling seedy, and we were getting quite nervous about it. Harris said he felt such extraordinary fits of giddiness come over him at times, that he hardly knew what he was doing; and then George said that HE had fits of giddiness too, and hardly knew what HE was doing. With me, it was my liver that was out of order. I knew it was my liver that was out of order, because I had just been reading a patent liver-pill circular, in which were detailed the various symptoms by which a man could tell when his liver was out of order. I had them all.

It is a most extraordinary thing, but I never read a patent medicine advertisement without being impelled to the conclusion that I am suffering from the particular disease therein dealt with in its most virulent form. The diagnosis seems in every case to correspond exactly with all the sensations that I have ever felt.

I remember going to the British Museum one day to read up the treatment for some slight ailment of which I had a touch - hay fever, I fancy it was. I got down the book, and read all I came to read; and then, in an unthinking moment, I idly turned the leaves, and began to indolently study diseases, generally. I forget which was the first distemper I plunged into - some fearful, devastating scourge, I know - and, before I had glanced half down the list of "premonitory symptoms," it was borne in upon me that I had fairly got it.


  1. That's a very funny book, I loved it! When I was at school we visited some of the pubs named in it. Happy T Day, hugs, Valerie

  2. This was an awesome post thank you-searching out the pub-wow dates back to the 1300's-that would be awesome to visit
    thanks much Happy T

  3. The book sounds interesting. I like the parts you quoted here; and how perfect for Tea Day! Thanks for sharing. I think I wrote down another book you recommended. :) Can the author's name really be Jerome K Jerome?
    Happy Tea Day!

    1. Oddly, yes lol His father changed his name from Jerome Clapp to Jerome Jerome and then named his son after himself. Strange, isn't it. from wikipedia: "He was the fourth child of Marguerite Jones and Jerome Clapp (who later renamed himself Jerome Clapp Jerome), an ironmonger and lay preacher who dabbled in architecture. He had two sisters, Paulina and Blandina, and one brother, Milton, who died at an early age. Jerome was registered as Jerome Clapp Jerome, like his father's amended name, and the Klapka appears to be a later variation (after the exiled Hungarian general György Klapka)."

  4. Oh, what fun! The Barley Mow looks the most quintessential English pub and I would love to join you for a virtual ale 😁. In fact I've just raided my hubby's homebrew and now have a pumpkin beer in my hand whilst I read the rest of your post which is a delight - thanks so much for the smiles! Cheers and Happy T Tuesday! J 😊 x

  5. OMGosh. You can't believe how fun this sounds. Although I wouldn't drink beer in the pubs, I would LOVE to travel that route. Thanks so much for sharing this with us for T this Tuesday. I plan to read this after I share T with everyone.

  6. well what a fun trip this would be!! I think Chris or Jo should rent a van for all of us to go together- oh what a T time that would be:):) Thanks for sharing and happy T day!

  7. How fun! And what a beautiful place this pub would be to visit. Everything is more exciting when it has a wonderful bit of history attached to it.
    Happy Tea Day,

  8. take me with you in that van, haha. should be lots of fun!!

  9. Oh yes ale! A super pub! Looks fantastic! This is just an awesome posting!
    Thank you for the smiles!
    Happy belated T-Day!
    oxo Susi

  10. I really enjoyed this post. Wow, you do find fascinating things-stories, art, etc. I would not find anything as interesting for sure. I am late-crazy day yesterday-but hope it was a happy T day. Hugs-Erika

  11. Running late Divers!! What a fascinating post!! See ya next week!! Hugs! deb

  12. Sorry to be so late!

    The penny dropped. I never "got" the derivation of the word pub before. (I know - I'm slow on the uptake.)

    Funny & clever excerpts. I loved the part about the tea kettle that listens in.

    I really enjoyed this post, D.

    Belated happy T-day! Hugs, Eileen

  13. Oh what fun! And so utterly British! You certainly made me smile with these exerpts. I must read the whole book. (I have read it when I was young but can't remember much of it).
    Sorry I am late in commenting. (Better late than never), but we are rather busy packing and getting everything ready for our road trip.
    Belated Happy T-Day,