Anorak News | A Man Of Letters

A Man Of Letters

by | 18th, February 2004

‘“WHEN the 19th century missionary and explorer David Livingstone needed urgent help in Africa, he did what shipwrecked mariners in boys’ adventure books are supposed to do: he wrote a message in a bottle.”

Gagging for it

So claims the Times, but without wishing to split hairs, we think this unlikely. Unless Dr Livingstone was very small – or the bottle was very large – we simply don’t see how he could have got inside at all, let alone written a letter.

Perhaps they mean that he wrote a letter and put it in a bottle – in which case, they should have said what they meant and saved us a lot of effort trying to work our through the opening paragraph.

Anyway, to cut a long story short, a letter was left, and a ship arrived and left the supplies that Livingstone required. And now the letter is to be auctioned.

The letter is a world away from the elegant prose one would expect from such an eminent figure. Indeed, the most striking thing is its modern tone, which is at times redolent of the jungle antics enjoyed by modern television audiences.

“I’m like, so totally dehydrated, I’m gagging for some salt,” he writes. “Some of the guys are like feeling like shit and they’re like doing my head in.”

The paper reminds us that Sir Henry Morton Stanley encountered Livingstone, he uttered the famous words: “Dr Livingstone, I presume.”

Whereupon Livingstone replied with the less famous: “Stanley! Where the **** have you been, you ****?”’

Posted: 18th, February 2004 | In: Broadsheets Comment | TrackBack | Permalink