Tuesday, October 8, 2019

L'Enfant, Harold and Octopussy

I took this picture in November 2010, which I believe was the last time I visited Washington, D.C. I came across it the other day while combing through my photo archives for something else. As far as I can tell, I never used it -- never put it on Flickr, never blogged it. I guess I wasn't that crazy about it. But when I found it again, I thought, "Hey, that's a little slice of history! I should blog it after all!"

So here you go.

L'Enfant, the restaurant in the picture, no longer exists -- at least not at this location. The building is now occupied by a place called Lucky Buns. But they kept the little Eiffel Tower on the roof, which I'm sure is what made me take the photo in the first place.

In other news, remember that mysterious book of Edward Gorey stickers I got in the mail a few weeks ago? Well, I think I've solved the mystery. It's not a particularly happy story, but here goes.

About a month ago, on Sept. 6, I ordered a rare paperback book on Amazon from a third-party seller. The book, called "The Story of Harold," is a 1970s novel about a bisexual children's book author -- and it was written under a pseudonym by George Selden, the famous children's book author responsible for "A Cricket in Times Square" and "Tucker's Countryside," among others. (Write what you know, as the experts say!) I was a fan of Selden's books as a kid and I've been looking forward to reading his adventurous attempt to write for adults.

Problem is, it never arrived. I was told it should be here by October 8, and I've been patiently waiting. I went online yesterday and, looking more closely at the order, realized that "The Story of Harold" is illustrated by Edward Gorey!

This cannot be a coincidence, right?!

I'm not sure what happened, but I suspect the Gorey sticker book was somehow substituted for my order. This is a problem, because "The Story of Harold" cost me £36 (you can debate the wisdom of my spending that much on a paperback, but never mind) and the Gorey sticker book retails at about £5. Also, the sticker book came from an English bookseller, and I ordered the Selden book from a seller in the United States.

To make matters even more interesting, "The Story of Harold" is still listed on Amazon by the same seller, at the price I paid!

Methinks something fishy is going on. I wrote the seller yesterday, asking for an explanation. We shall see what happens.

Speaking of old books, here's another gem that recently came to light on the shelves in our library. One of the other librarians wanted to weed it, along with several other Ian Fleming books. I said, "NO! They're James Bond!" I mean, classics, right? So back on the shelf they all went -- but not before I scanned this cover. It's a 1966 book, first checked out from our library in 1975. (The rest are all more modern paperbacks.)

I've never read an Ian Fleming book, I must admit -- maybe I should make that a goal. They're probably wildly sexist and inappropriate. But for better or worse, I do think they fall under the heading of culturally significant.

Last night, as I walked to the tube station from school, it started pouring rain -- and of course I didn't have my umbrella. Fortunately, when I got to the station, I saw this sticking out of the trash:

Yes, I'm aware it's an umbrella suitable for an 8-year-old girl, and it's also broken. But you know what? I don't care. I used it to get home, and I'm sure I looked ridiculous -- but I was more or less dry! I may just take it to school, where we can save it for future precipitation-related emergencies.


  1. You would not have looked amiss here in Brighton with a girls pink umbrella, we have all sorts here and nobody bats an eye.lol

  2. Looks like you have been well and truly scammed with regard to "The Story of Harold" Steve. You should either report that third party seller directly to Amazon or hire a hitman to wreak revenge. My fees are reasonable.

  3. Mr. Pudding, are you available for overseas work? There are a few miscreants in the US who need eliminating.

    I want that flamingo umbrella.

  4. I've been waiting for a book from an Amazon "retailer" for well over a month. Didn't pay as much as you for mine, but it will be the last time I order from one of those so-called retailers.

  5. I've had good luck with third-party retailers on Amazon. Perhaps there was just a mistake. I hope it gets figured out and made right.
    Meanwhile- you have some very valuable stickers.
    How I wish I could have seen you with the umbrella. "Needs must," and all that.
    I've never read any Ian Fleming either. Maybe I should. Then again, I think I've seen exactly one James Bond movie.

  6. I don't know about James Bond being culturally significant but I do wish someone had taken a picture of you using that umbrella!

  7. The book deal sounds like a regular scam. I will be interested to see hat happens.

  8. I hope you solve that third-party book seller mystery. Someone should have the relevant paperwork. I so wish there was a photo of you and that umbrella. What a perfect find for the moment. Pink flamingos!

  9. Oh gosh, I needed that giggle! I do wish you had a photo of you walking with that beautiful umbrella! I agree, though, as long as it kept me dry, who cares! Here's hoping your book issue gets solved soon. I wonder why the builder of that building put an Eiffel Tower on the roof? Hmm, Interesting. You have a wonderful day, hugs, Edna B.

  10. I love the image of you walking home in the rain with that umbrella. I'll bet no one took any notice at all. Everyone else was trying to stay dry too. I also love the umbrella. It's a keeper. Interesting story about the book situation. I've bought a few books from Amazon that were actually coming from other suppliers and I find it's always a bit of a trail and error. The last one I bought came from a UK bookseller and it took almost two months to arrive making me wonder if it came by boat. The cover of that Fleming book is strange. I don't remember the story line though, so maybe it relates somehow. Love the L'Enfant photo and it was fun seeing the place as it looks today.

  11. Oh you must have been such a sight, walking the streets of London with your little flamingo umbrella! HRH might say "we ARE amused."

  12. I lol'd at your defense for using the little broken umbrella, but admire your attitude :D

    I hope the book/sticker mix-up gets straightened out to your satisfaction. Hopefully it was an honest mistake, not a scam.

  13. I find it quite serendipitous that a guy from Florida found a flamingo umbrella when in need!

  14. The umbrella story made me laugh out loud - your Discarded Items Radar is always scanning. A handy thing in this case, any port (umbrella) in a storm.
    By the way, the umbrella photo is lovely, especially the shadows cast on the floor.
    Truly, I could not be bothered with buying anything on line.