George Walford: Down to Basics

Sir James Goldsmith has delivered, to the Caroline Walker Trust at the premises of the Royal Society, a lecture which Fourth World Review has now reprinted (Issue No. 48). Its title appears in bold print on the cover of FWR and repeatedly inside: “The Fundaments of Life.” That didn’t sound quite right, and on looking up “fundament” in the Shorter Oxford we found our doubts supported. Two meanings appear, but the first of them, in which fundament appears as the equivalent of foundation, gets dismissed as obsolete. The word carries only one current meaning: “The lower part of the body, on which one sits; the buttocks; also, the anus. In birds, the vent.” (Robert Browning ran into similar difficulties when, in the belief that he was describing headgear, he wrote of “an old nun’s twat.”)

An earlier issue of IC reported Eric Korn’s fantasy of a new disease, transmitted by money. Nigerian currency has now been found to carry gastro-enteritis, boils, styes and conjunctivitis. Reality seldom stays far behind imagination for long.

from Ideological Commentary 54, Winter 1991.