As already mentioned, there is no such thing as common or garden Englishman who read Three Men in a Boat. I guess those who read Novel Notes are even rarer and... what is the opposite of garden?
Compared to Three Men, this book (featuring four men) is altogether more reflective, at times sombre affair. Still, Jerome’s incomparable humour shines through here and there. Read it.
Another time he showed us how to make coffee — according to the Arabian method. Arabia must be a very untidy country if they made coffee often over there. He dirtied two saucepans, three jugs, one tablecloth, one nutmeg-grater, one hearthrug, three cups, and himself. This made coffee for two — what would have been necessary in the case of a party, one dares not think.
Houseboats then were not built to the scale of Mississippi steamers, but this boat was a small one, even for that primitive age. The man from whom we hired it described it as “compact”. The man to whom, at the end of the first month, we tried to sub-let it, characterised it as “poky”. In our letters we traversed this definition. In our hearts we agreed with it.
“What the intellectual woman requires in man is not something to argue with, but something to look at. To an empty-headed woman I can imagine the soldier type proving vapid and uninteresting; to the woman of mind he represents her ideal of man — a creature strong, handsome, well-dressed, and not too clever”.
There is a story told of an elderly tramp, who, overtaken by misfortune, was compelled to retire for a while to the seclusion of Portland. His hosts, desiring to see as much as possible of their guest during his limited stay with them, proceeded to bath him. They bathed him twice a day for a week, each time learning more of him; until at last they reached a flannel shirt.