Monday, January 13, 2014

Heliotrope and gold

Heliotrope isn't a word you bump into that much.  It's both the name of a color and a plant, and a picture of the plant tells you pretty much everything you need to know about the color ...

I say this because it pops up twice, I think, in Saigon: Too Big To Fail.  The one passage I'm particularly thinking about, which describes the protagonist in what he calls his "Sergeant Pepper" phase, goes like this ...

    I wore Winklepickers, tight black jeans, a ruffled pirate shirt topped with an 18th century vintage naval tunic.  Heliotrope, with gold piping and a pair of fringed golden epaulettes.  She wore a dark red gown that looked like it had been sprayed on.  She parted her straight, black hair in the middle and it fell half way down her back, with a little bit near her left temple gathered into a thin braid.
    I could tell she wasn't strapped.

It should be noted that Winklepickers are pointy-toed boots that musicians wear, and that strapped is a term for carrying a weapon.

All of which is well and good.  Then last night, about a third of the way into Jeeves and the Wedding Bells, which I am enjoying more than I thought I would, I read this ...

    Ten minutes later, agreeably capped, I went up to the bedroom to find that Jeeves had laid out my heliotrope pyjamas with the old gold stripe.  It had been a long day and I felt ready for a full ration of the deep and dreamless.

It should be noted that in S2B2F, being capped is a bad thing.  Here the author uses it to describe the condition of having just had a night cap.

Anyway, sometimes a man feels at one with the universe.  Other times he feels like a nut.


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