Chesterton’s Model

It is well known that Mr Chesterton modelled his famous literary creation Mgr O’Connor on me, though even O’Connor seems to get it round the wrong way. Keep that in mind with this quote from “Mgr O’Connor’s” Gilbert Keith Chesterton: Only a Memory (1936).

G.K. himself tells how two young men that first evening, after I had gone home, wondered how a sheltered existence like mine could ever take part in the rude, naughty world as it stood, and how this have the first push off to the Father Brown stories… Disguise is mingled with description – I did carry a specially large and cheap umbrella – and had quite a habit of brown-paper parcels – and the episode of the sapphire cross (in America, a diamond cross, of course) has this relation to sordid fact, that I was still vain of having bought five sapphires for five shillings in an obscure pawnshop in Bradford. Many years later, in Bradford again, some duffer introduced me as Father Brown to two international crooks who were playing themselves to the book-trade, and they both disappeared, leaving no trace, within twenty-four hours!

They may have fled in the face of my penchant, long nurtured, for long sentences with multiple subordinate clauses, the mark of a lovely mind, but surely not of easy reading. Such was, and is, youth, however relative it may be.

I have composed this on what is called, with ironic and unwitting menace, a smartphone. How do bairns manage it from day to day? M. Flambeau is equally flummoxed.