Magazine article The Spectator

Six of the Best

Magazine article The Spectator

Six of the Best

Article excerpt

On board s/y Bushido

'Trimming the Jib' is a short essay by Ernest Hemingway and it has to do with the sea. And love. And passion. He wrote it shortly before The Old Man and the Sea , which helped land him the Nobel Prize in Literature. Here it is in its entirety:

He ran aground on the same reef as before.

Pablo was drunk and dreaming of Conchita.

He was always dreaming of Conchita. When he wasn't dreaming of her he would avoid the reef. But he was always dreaming. And drinking.

The reef was hard, not made of mud or sand, but rock. Pablo was old, and his legs were heavy in the thighs. Pablo was also lazy, but he knew the coast like Conchita's breasts, powerful and beautiful and taut at his touch. But he was drunk and dreaming of her and was stuck on the hard reef.

'Once aground you will want to refloat as quickly as possible, ' he told himself. He took another swig. And thought of Conchita. And the boat did not move. Pablo thought how the earth had moved that morning with Conchita, and took another swig.

He waited for the tide to come. When the tide rises you can sit and wait to float off. But when it's ebbing, it means Conchita will be alone.

The tide was ebbing. He took another swig. He thought of Conchita alone. He jumped in the water and swam for it. But Pablo was old and the tide was ebbing fast. His last thought was of her as the tide swept him out to sea.

OK, OK, so he didn't write it, I did, and there was no Nobel - so what? I had six guests on board last week, all much smarter than me, and none of them had won it either.

Tom Fleming is a Classics scholar, as is his wife Gail. He runs the Rockford Institute and edits Chronicles magazine. Mark Brennan is a history PhD and teaches capitalism and the second world war, while Chris Myers is a Marine major who fought in Iraq and knows politics and history like no other, and knows how to hit a target with an RPG, to boot. All three men and their wives, too, can kill a bottle of wine quicker than you can say Henry Fairlie, which is saying something.

We sailed to Nafplion, Greece's first capital, then back to Porto Heli and then Spetses, never getting off the boat, talking late into the night about Sophocles, Aeschylus and my old buddy, 'You ripi dese trousers you will have to pay for them'.

According to Dr Fleming, Sophocles was the Haydn and Mozart of playwrights, a man of universal perfection. He presented man the way he should be, whereas Aeschylus was weird and wild, incomprehensible to critics because of his language, and showed his heroes to be the way man really is. …

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