“Il est avoyer quex chose ydyot poit faire.”


As he listened to the Warden address the fellows, the words of Sir John Port drifted to mind:
“Every idiot is a fool, not having discretion. But not every fool is an idiot.”*


* This, and the title, come to Oxford Noir, by way of Sir J. H. Baker, ed. The Notebook of Sir John Port, Selden Society vol. 102 (London: Selden Society, 1986), 131.

Writing out of context

Years ago, someone on CBC radio mentioned an obscure literary contest, which I have never managed to identify, that awarded prizes for the most poetic and aesthetically pleasing non-fiction prose. What made this contest special was that the contestants were entirely unaware of the competition and their non-fiction work was usually the sort of grey literature of departmental reports or technical writing that no-one expects to be poetic, or even readable.

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