Chuffed and rectified

There’s a brief passage in Patrick O’Brian’s Wine Dark Sea , in which Jack Aubrey’s “ill-faced, ill-tempered, atrabilious, shrewish” steward, Preserved Killick, decides to add a little something extra to the drops he’s applying to his captain’s wounded eye. “Why,” he says, “everybody knows Gregory’s Patent Liquid, sir: it rectifies the humours.”

I myself have needed my humours rectified for a few weeks now. I go into these little funks once in a while, always in the winter. Scrabbling to get out feels like trying to open a door without a handle, breaking off fingernails in frantic attempts to pull the thing open along its edges. This isn’t real depression—nowhere near as painful or desperate—just a sort of all-function hibernation. I can’t read as much, I can’t return phone calls, I can’t make any headway on my writing or editing, I’m a useless lump in a group. Then something happens and I’m okay. I remember years ago finding myself laughing uproariously at a table full of friends, and I was back.

I think this very kind post by Alan Sloman may serve me as a modern version of Gregory’s Patent Liquid. It came along at just the right time. I have a bunch of mostly British outdoor blogs on my Google Reader, and although I haven’t been checking them as regularly as usual, I had a look yesterday, saw Alan’s, and was chuffed. Chuffed is good, clearly related to rectified.

So, Alan (and commentors Martin, Des, and Baz), my humours thank you and I thank you.


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