Tuesday, 13 April 2010

Sane in solitary confinement

I’ve heard of chaps who kept themselves sane in solitary confinement by singing all the hymns they knew, or proving the propositions of Euclid, or reciting poetry. Each to his taste: I’m no hand at religion, or geometry, and the only respectable poem I can remember is an Ode to Horace which Arnold made me learn as a punishment for farting at prayers. So instead I compiled a mental list of all the women I’d had in my life, from the sweaty kitchen maid in Leicestershire when I was fifteen, up to the half-caste piece I’d been reprimanded for at Cawnpore, and to my astonishment there were four hundred and seventy-eight of them, which seemed rather a lot, especially since I was counting return engagements. It’s astonishing really, when you think how much time it must have taken up.

Flashman in the Great Game, p.309, Pan edition, 4th printing, 1979.

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