“My Lady Love, My Dove”

Sections: Information | Plot Description | Teacher Ideas


Information


Plot Description

Spoiler warning! Arthur is happily married to Pamela, a very wealthy yet overbearing woman. They are awaiting some weekend guests, the Snapes, and Pamela isn’t looking forward to it. The only reason she invited them was that the Snapes are good bridge players and they play for a decent stake. Suddenly Pamela gets the idea that they should bug the Snapes’s room. Arthur doesn’t like the idea, but Pamela bullies him and reminds him that they’ve done similar things together in the past. “I’m a nasty person,” she says. “And so are you — in a secret sort of way. That’s why we get along together.” Arthur is eventually persuaded to hide a microphone in the guest room and run the wire to the speaker in the master bedroom. Later the guests arrive and everyone has a pleasant dinner. Afterwards they play bridge, and the Snapes have all the luck. The wife, Sally, makes one mistake though that costs them several hundred points. At the end of the evening the couples part and Pamela excitedly tells Arthur to turn on the speaker. They are astonished to hear Mr. Snape reprimanding his wife for her earlier bridge error. She apologizes, but he tells her that they’re just going to have to practice some more. Arthur realizes that they’re talking about a betting code which allows them to cheat and know all of their partner’s cards. Arthur isn’t sure what they should do about it, and waits for Pamela’s decision. Her words shock him: “Why, Arthur, this is a mar-vellous idea… Go fetch a deck of cards; we’ll start right away.”


Teacher Ideas


“Mrs. Bixby and the Colonel’s Coat”

Sections: Information | Plot Description  | Reviews | Criticism and Analysis | Fun Stuff | Teacher Ideas


Information

  • First published:
    • December 1959 issue of Nugget

Plot Description

Some sources refer to this as a “story-within-a-story”, but I wouldn’t go so far. It’s more like a story with a little stitched-on introduction. Critics like to point to this tale as yet another example of Dahl’s misogyny, but it’s actually quite different for a husband to win against a wife in his work (see “Lamb to the Slaughter” or “The Way Up to Heaven”).

Note: This story is based on an apocryphal anecdote dating back to at least the 1930’s. Dahl didn’t originate the plot!

Spoiler warning! Dahl introduces the story by commenting on the ruthless practice of American woman marrying men, using them, and divorcing them just for financial gain. He claims that these poor overworked men meet in bars and console themselves with tales in which cuckolded men win one over the evil forces of femininity. The most famous of these stories is “Mrs. Bixby and the Colonel’s Coat”, which is about a hard-working dentist and his duplicitous wife. Mrs. Bixby leaves home once a month ostensibly to visit her aunt in Baltimore, but really she spends the time with her lover, the Colonel. On this particular occasion she receives a parting gift from the Colonel, and when she opens it on the train home she is amazed to find an extremely beautiful and valuable mink coat. In a note the Colonel explains that their relationship has to end, but Mrs. Bixby is consoled by the thought of her fabulous new possession. Immediately she begins scheming and trying to think of a story she can tell her husband about where she obtained it. She decides to visit a pawnbroker and borrow $50 against the coat, receiving a blank pawn ticket in return. When she gets home she tells her husband that she found the ticket in a taxicab and he excitedly explains how they go about claiming it. Since she doesn’t want to be recognized by the pawnbroker, she lets him go to claim the item after he promises that he’ll give whatever it is to her. He calls her from work the next day to let her know that he has the item, and that she’s going to be really surprised and happy. Mrs. Bixby is too eager to wait, so she goes to her husband’s office to pick up the coat. Imagine her surprise, then, when her husband places a mangy mink stole around her neck! She feigns happiness for his sake, while secretly planning to return to the pawnbroker and accuse him of switching the coat for this worthless item. On her way out of the office, though, she is passed by her husband’s young assistant secretary, Miss Pulteney… wearing the “beautiful black mink coat that the Colonel had given to Mrs. Bixby.”


Reviews


Criticism and Analysis


Fun Stuff


Teacher Ideas


“Mr. Feasey”

Sections: Information | Plot Description 


Information


Plot Description

This is from the “Claud’s Dog” series of stories that were first published in Someone Like You.

Spoiler warning! The narrator Gordon and his friend Claud are exceptionally nervous, because they’re about to pull off the biggest scam of their lives. They’re off to the greyhound racing track with their dog Jackie. Claud knows everything there is to know about greyhound racing, and he’s sure they’ve got a winner. Four months before Claud bought a dog that turned out to be a dead ringer for Jackie, but couldn’t run fast at all. They’ve been running the slow dog at the track for the past eight weeks to make sure that he gets moved into the bottom racing grade. Now they plan on running Jackie and placing all their money on him to win. The only obstacle is Mr. Feasey, who runs the track. He has an incredible memory and is able to spot an imposter dog from a mile away. Once they get to the track, they’re horrified when Mr. Feasey tells them that he doesn’t intend to let them run their “champion” anymore. As a last resort, Claud bets Mr. Feasey a pound that Jackie won’t come in last place. This piques Feasey’s interest, and he inspects the dog closely. Satisfied that it’s the same dog, he accepts the bet and allows Jackie into the first race. While Claud gets Jackie ready and bribes the winder (the man who pulls the rabbit that the dogs chase), Gordon goes down the row of bookies placing bets on Jackie. He stands to win over two thousand pounds. The race begins and Jackie wins easily. Mr. Feasey is furious and tells them that they’re banned from the track in the future. Claud takes Jackie back to the van while Gordon goes to collect their winnings. When he gets there, though, the first bookie won’t pay and says he backed another dog. All the details are in the bookmaker’s book, but he won’t let Gordon see it. None of the other bookies will pay out either. “You’re a thief! A lousy little thief!” Gordon yells. “Well, I never,” says the bookie. “Look who’s talking!” Everyone laughs as Gordon sees Claud waiting for him with a suitcase in hand for the money.


“The Hitchhiker”

Sections: Information | Plot Description | Teacher Ideas


Information


Plot Description

The narrator of this story is never named, but it sounds very much as if it’s Dahl himself. What do you think?

Spoiler warning! The narrator is driving to London is his lovely new BMW when he picks up a hitchhiker. The man, who looks rather like a rat, mentions that he’s going to the horse races, but not to bet or work the ticket machines. The narrator is intrigued and says that he’s a writer. They get to talking about the car, and the narrator proudly states that it can hit one hundred and twenty-nine miles per hour. The hitchhiker doubts that, so once they hit a straight patch of road, the narrator steps on the gas. They’re almost there when a policeman on a motorcycle zooms past and signals them to stop. The cop is a bit of a bully and threatens to have the narrator thrown in prison. He takes down his address and also the address of the hitchhiker. Then he gives them a ticket and leaves and they continue on their way. The narrator is worried about the ticket, but the hitchhiker says it will be fine. They begin talking about their careers again, and eventually the hitchhiker announces that he is a “fingersmith.” He is so skilled with his hands that he even manages to remove the narrator’s belt without him noticing. He attends the races and steals money from the winners. “That policeman’s going to check up on you pretty thoroughly,” the narrator says. “Doesn’t that worry you a bit?” The hitchhiker responds that no one will be checking up on him, as policemen have notoriously bad memories. “What’s memory got to do with it?” the narrator asks. “It’s written down in his book, isn’t it?” The hitchhiker proudly announces that he’s stolen both books from the policeman. “Easiest job I ever done.” They pull off the road to burn the books.


Teacher Ideas


“The Great Switcheroo”

Sections: Information | Plot Description | Reviews


Information

  • First published:

Plot Description

This is a very adult story and I would highly recommend that kids don’t read it. Not only is it of a very sexual nature, but it’s got some questionable language too. It’s from Dahl’s book Switch B***h. I’m going to keep the plot description as vague as possible.

Spoiler warning! Vic lusts after Samantha, the wife of his best friend and neighbor Jerry. Samantha is a faithful woman, though, and Vic knows he stands no chance of seducing her. So he concocts a plan that will allow him and Jerry to switch wives for an evening without the women knowing it. He manages to convince Jerry of the plan and the two of them spend many weeks working out the details. On the fateful night, the two men switch beds and make love to the other man’s wife. Then they return home, full of glee at their own cleverness. Vic gets quite a shock the next morning, though, when his wife Mary admits that she’s never really enjoyed sex with him… before last night.


Reviews


“The Butler”

Sections: Information | Plot Description | Teacher Ideas | Spanish Covers


Information


Plot Description

Spoiler warning! This is a very short little story in which a British butler and a French chef outwit an obnoxious nouveau riche millionaire (probably meant to be American, judging by his name and accent). This millionaire, Mr. Cleaver, wants desperately to become the toast of society. He throws dinner many dinner parties, but none of them ever really seems to “come off.” The butler, Tibbs, explains that this is because the host serves the guests a “cheap and very odious Spanish red [wine].” At his employer’s request, then, Tibbs begins stocking the wine cellar with some of the most rare and exquisite and expensive wines in the world. Mr. Cleaver even studies to become a wine connoiseur. The parties, however, do not improve. Tibbs then explains that this is because Mr. Cleaver has instructed the chef to prepare the salad dressing with vinegar. Vinegar, he explains, is the enemy of wine and leaves you unable to taste it. “Hogwash,” says his employer. That very same night Mr. Cleaver begins to expound upon the virtues of the French wine he believes he is drinking… until Tibbs points out that it is the same cheap and odious Spanish red that he has always served. He claims that great wines should be revered and that he and Monsieur Estragon, the chef, have finished all of the bottles themselves. Then he walks out the door to the waiting car Monsieur Estragon has already packed with their belongings.


Teacher Ideas


Spanish Covers – La cata


“The Bookseller”

Sections: Information | Plot Description | Spanish Covers


Information

  • First published:

Plot Description

This very adult story was originally published in Playboy and probably shouldn’t be read by any children without the consent of their parents. With that in mind, I’m going to keep the plot/description rather simple and vague.

Spoiler warning! This story is about Mr. William Buggage and his secretary Miss Tottle and the secret business they run out of Buggage’s Rare Book Shop in London. Every day they read the obituaries and draft custom invoices to send to the grieving widow. The invoices list various European books of pornography and sexual deviance. The horrified widows always pay quickly to keep the matter from the presses. Mr. Buggage and Miss Tottle have made thousands of pounds using this method, and they use their ill-gotten gains to take lavish trips together. (They really are disgusting people – rather like The Twits.) Eventually they are caught when one of the widows points out that her late husband was blind and that the invoice is therefore a fake.


Spanish Covers