William F. Buckley Jnr’s autobiography….
Patience is, by all accounts a virtue. If there is a patience gene then I do not posses it. As was the case with the postman who rang my door bell three times and hammered on it in Nano-second succession before moving next door in the time it took me to get from the living room to the hallway and repeat the same procedure there before returning to my door and doing it again. Most of us are guilty of over-reaction from time to time and we sometimes need a lesson in humility to remind us of that virtue called patience and for some of us it is a lesson long in the learning.
Returning to my book whilst pondering my outburst I was reminded by a chapter in the autobiography of William F. Buckley Jnr (1925-2008) legendary spokesperson for the modern American Republican movement, author, publisher and television host who recalled a lesson in putting one’s foot firmly in one’s mouth as a result of impatience.
In ‘Why Don’t We Complain?’ he recalls standing in a ski shop in Vermont wanting to borrow a screwdriver to repair a loose fastening on his ski. Behind the counter were two men, one was attending to a customer, the other sat in a chair, smoking a pipe talking to his colleague. Buckley stood and waited, feeling his temperature rise, starring at the seated man in a bid to “shame him into action”. Nothing. Buckley could stand it no longer and said to the seated man “If you are not too busy would you mind handing me a screwdriver?”
Work stopped and everyone turned to stare at Buckley. The seated man turned to Buckley and said “I am sorry, sir. I am not supposed to move. I have just had a heart attack”
Buckley writes: “That was the signal for a great whirring noise that descended from heaven. We looked, stricken, out the window, and it appeared as though a cyclone had suddenly focused on the snowy forecourt between the shop and the ski lift. Suddenly a gigantic army helicopter materialized, and hovered down to a landing. Two men carrying a stretcher jumped out of the aircraft, tore into the ski shop, and lifted the shopkeeper onto the stretcher….I looked up manfully-into a score of man-eating eyes”
Ouch! A man renowned for his love of embellishing a story or statement with the length and breadth of the English language cut down by a shopkeeper in one, gloriously embarrassing sentence. Lesson learnt for this blogger but not, I would presume for Buckley Jnr.
Miles Gone By ‘A Literary Autobiography’
William F. Buckley Jnr
First published in 2004 by Regnery Publishing
Categories: The Reading Room