You Don't Say John E. McIntyre writes about language, usage, journalism & arbitrarily chosen subjects.

Some personality types are eternal

The Baltimore Sun

Something—I can’t quite put my finger on it—keeps bringing to mind this passage about Lord Copper, proprietor of the Daily Beast in Evelyn Waugh’s Scoop, in conversation with his subordinate Mr. Salter.

(Mr Salter aspired to be the Competitions editor, but it was the policy of the Megalopolitan Newspaper Corporation “to keep the staff alert by constant changes of occupation,” and Mr. Salter had been made foreign editor and “found it a dog’s life.”)

 

The two men dined alone. They ate parsley soup, whiting, roast veal, cabinet pudding; they drank whisk-and-soda. Lord Copper explained Nazism, Fascism and Communism; later, in his ghastly library, he outlined the situation in the Far East. “The Beast stands for strong mutually antagonistic governments everywhere,” he said. “Self-sufficiency at home, self-assertion abroad.”

Mr. Salter’s side of the conversation was limited to expressions of assent. When Lord Coppper was right he said, “Definitely, Lord Copper’; when he was wrong, “Up to a point.”

“Let me see, what’s the name of that place I mean? Capital of Japan? Yokohama, isn’t it?”

“Up to a point, Lord Copper.”

“And Hong Kong belongs to us, doesn’t it?”

“Definitely, Lord Copper.”

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