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David Elliott Meets Dorothy L. Sayers in The Moon Under Water Pub

National Women's History Month March 1-31, 2022






The Moon Under Water Pub was quietly busy for a Wednesday afternoon. I was glad to escape the chilly March rain that sliced my face like a dull razor blade. I wiped off the London “sunshine” with a much-wrinkled handkerchief. Sally the barmaid offered a clean bar towel. “Alright, mate,” she said. “You look like you could use two or three fingers of barley-broo.”

“You’re as perspicacious as ever, Sally, gratefully using the towel. “Aberfeldy whisky, with just one small drop of tap water, please.”


No matter how often I stop in here, I’m impressed with the murmur of conversation among the patrons. No raised voices or raucous laughter.


In the center of the pub, two tables had been pushed together to accommodate four women and two men. One of the women was engrossed in earnest discussion with the men. She had a broad face, a high forehead, wonderfully bright brown eyes, and a rather mischievous look in those eyes. I’m not a good visual judge of one’s age but she appeared to be in her mid-fifties. From my vantage point, the body language of the men indicated that she controlled the conversation.


With two fingers of Aberfeldy whisky in a crystal glass, I moved closer to eavesdrop.


“In my generation,” declared one of the men who wore a Harris tweed jacket with the assurance of a university professor, “girls played with dolls and boys’ toys were lead soldiers and wooden guns. You women -“ his arm swept to include the quartet at the table - “are intent on redefining the accepted role of women.”


The other three women bridled at his comment, and let him have it in quiet, angry voices.


“Reginald, old boy,” said the woman with the bright eyes, “What we ask is to be human individuals, however peculiar and unexpected. It is no good saying: "You are a little girl and therefore you ought to like dolls"; if the answer is, ‘But I don't,’ there is no more to be said.”


“I’ll wager, Dorothy,” the other man chimed in, “you never liked dolls.”

“No, but I loved Jacko and Jocko, my stuffed monkeys.” The women chuckled.


Reginald tried a different tack. “On a similar subject, it’s obvious that today an increasing number of women are entering the job market instead of staying in the home, which has been their role since the time of cave dwellers. I don’t have a problem with women secretaries, or nurses and such, as long as they can keep their homes clean. But young married women will have babies, and her employer must find and train a replacement who likely will repeat the married with children routine. Women in business or a profession are not going to stay in a job for an extended period.” He looked at Dorothy. “Of course, as a writer you’ve never had a real job.”


Dorothy stood, laughing melodiously. “You’re correct, Reggie. Writing mysteries, essays, theological treatises is a piece of kidney pie, so easy even a man could do it. But I did work as a copywriter for an advertising firm for nine years, and I was rather good at it if I must say so. Perhaps you may be able to recite the Guinness Zoo jingles I wrote. Remember the Toucan jingle?”


One of the women recited, “If he can say, as you can, Guinness is good for you, How grand to be a Toucan. Just think what Toucan do.”


“You know, gentlemen, unfortunately you’re not the first men we’ve heard spouting the notion that, with women, the job does not come first. What woman really prefers a job to a home and family? Very few, I admit. It is unfortunate that they should so often have to make the choice. A man does not, as a rule, have to choose. He gets both. Nevertheless, there have been women ... who had the choice, and chose the job and made a success of it. And there have been and are many men who have sacrificed their careers for women ... When it comes to a choice, then every man or woman has to choose as an individual human being, and, like a human being, take the consequences.”


Sally came up to ask if I needed a refill. “Who is that woman, Sally?” “Dorothy Leigh Sayers, the famous author. She writes the Lord Peter Wimsey mysteries.” “My gosh, Sally. I’ve read some of her books. The Nine Tailors, Whose Body? The Five Red Herrings.”


“I hope their discussion doesn’t rise to the level of the bar scene in The Five Red Herrings,” Sally observed.

“Oh, yeah, you’re referring to the dust-up between Campbell and Waters in the opening scene. That would not be allowed in here.”

“Aye, David, right you are.” She moved off to take care of other customers.


I returned to eavesdropping. The subject had changed to women as university students. I didn’t heard Reginald’s remark, but Dorothy’s response was a gem.


“When the pioneers of university training for women demanded that women should be admitted to the universities, the cry went up at once: ‘Why should women want to know about Aristotle?’ The answer is NOT that all women would be the better for knowing about Aristotle … but simply: ‘What women want as a class is irrelevant. I want to know about Aristotle. It is true that many women care nothing about him, and a great many male undergraduates turn pale and faint at the thought of him – but I, eccentric individual that I am, do want to know about Aristotle, and I submit that there is nothing in my shape or bodily functions which need prevent my knowing about him.”


I walked out of The Moon Under Water, determined to read Dorothy L. Sayers other works in addition to her terrific Lord Peter Wimsey books. Hmm. Women’s History Month, huh?


(Excerpts from Dorothy L. Sayers, Are Women Human? Astute and Witty Essays on the Role of Women in Society}.


Commercial Message: The Girl in the Orange Maillot will be published Tuesday, March 15. You may purchase your copy at my website, www.baileyherrington.com, or online at Barnes & Noble or Amazon.com. For readers in the Las Cruces area, I will be signing copies of “The Girl” at COAS bookstore on Main Street Saturday March 19, from 10 am to 12 noon.





The Moon Under Water Pub was quietly busy for a Wednesday afternoon. I was glad to escape the chilly March rain that sliced my face like a dull razor blade. I wiped off the London “sunshine” with a much-wrinkled handkerchief. Sally the barmaid offered a clean bar towel. “Alright, mate,” she said. “You look like you could use two or three fingers of barley-broo.”

“You’re as perspicacious as ever, Sally, gratefully using the towel. “Aberfeldy whisky, with just one small drop of tap water, please.”


No matter how often I stop in here, I’m impressed with the murmur of conversation among the patrons. No raised voices or raucous laughter.


In the center of the pub, two tables had been pushed together to accommodate four women and two men. One of the women was engrossed in earnest discussion with the men. She had a broad face, a high forehead, wonderfully bright brown eyes, and a rather mischievous look in those eyes. I’m not a good visual judge of one’s age but she appeared to be in her mid-fifties. From my vantage point, the body language of the men indicated that she controlled the conversation.


With two fingers of Aberfeldy whisky in a crystal glass, I moved closer to eavesdrop.


“In my generation,” declared one of the men who wore a Harris tweed jacket with the assurance of a university professor, “girls played with dolls and boys’ toys were lead soldiers and wooden guns. You women -“ his arm swept to include the quartet at the table - “are intent on redefining the accepted role of women.”


The other three women bridled at his comment, and let him have it in quiet, angry voices.


“Reginald, old boy,” said the woman with the bright eyes, “What we ask is to be human individuals, however peculiar and unexpected. It is no good saying: "You are a little girl and therefore you ought to like dolls"; if the answer is, ‘But I don't,’ there is no more to be said.”


“I’ll wager, Dorothy,” the other man chimed in, “you never liked dolls.”

“No, but I loved Jacko and Jocko, my stuffed monkeys.” The women chuckled.


Reginald tried a different tack. “On a similar subject, it’s obvious that today an increasing number of women are entering the job market instead of staying in the home, which has been their role since the time of cave dwellers. I don’t have a problem with women secretaries, or nurses and such, as long as they can keep their homes clean. But young married women will have babies, and her employer must find and train a replacement who likely will repeat the married with children routine. Women in business or a profession are not going to stay in a job for an extended period.” He looked at Dorothy. “Of course, as a writer you’ve never had a real job.”


Dorothy stood, laughing melodiously. “You’re correct, Reggie. Writing mysteries, essays, theological treatises is a piece of kidney pie, so easy even a man could do it. But I did work as a copywriter for an advertising firm for nine years, and I was rather good at it if I must say so. Perhaps you may be able to recite the Guinness Zoo jingles I wrote. Remember the Toucan jingle?”


One of the women recited, “If he can say, as you can, Guinness is good for you, How grand to be a Toucan. Just think what Toucan do.”


“You know, gentlemen, unfortunately you’re not the first men we’ve heard spouting the notion that, with women, the job does not come first. What woman really prefers a job to a home and family? Very few, I admit. It is unfortunate that they should so often have to make the choice. A man does not, as a rule, have to choose. He gets both. Nevertheless, there have been women ... who had the choice, and chose the job and made a success of it. And there have been and are many men who have sacrificed their careers for women ... When it comes to a choice, then every man or woman has to choose as an individual human being, and, like a human being, take the consequences.”


Sally came up to ask if I needed a refill. “Who is that woman, Sally?” “Dorothy Leigh Sayers, the famous author. She writes the Lord Peter Wimsey mysteries.” “My gosh, Sally. I’ve read some of her books. The Nine Tailors, Whose Body? The Five Red Herrings.”


“I hope their discussion doesn’t rise to the level of the bar scene in The Five Red Herrings,” Sally observed.

“Oh, yeah, you’re referring to the dust-up between Campbell and Waters in the opening scene. That would not be allowed in here.”

“Aye, David, right you are.” She moved off to take care of other customers.


I returned to eavesdropping. The subject had changed to women as university students. I didn’t heard Reginald’s remark, but Dorothy’s response was a gem.


“When the pioneers of university training for women demanded that women should be admitted to the universities, the cry went up at once: ‘Why should women want to know about Aristotle?’ The answer is NOT that all women would be the better for knowing about Aristotle … but simply: ‘What women want as a class is irrelevant. I want to know about Aristotle. It is true that many women care nothing about him, and a great many male undergraduates turn pale and faint at the thought of him – but I, eccentric individual that I am, do want to know about Aristotle, and I submit that there is nothing in my shape or bodily functions which need prevent my knowing about him.”


I walked out of The Moon Under Water, determined to read Dorothy L. Sayers other works in addition to her terrific Lord Peter Wimsey books. Hmm. Women’s History Month, huh?


(Excerpts from Dorothy L. Sayers, Are Women Human? Astute and Witty Essays on the Role of Women in Society}.


Commercial Message: The Girl in the Orange Maillot will be published Tuesday, March 15. You may purchase your copy at my website, www.baileyherrington.com, or online at Barnes & Noble or Amazon.com. For readers in the Las Cruces area, I will be signing copies of “The Girl” at COAS bookstore on Main Street Saturday March 19, from 10 am to 12 noon.




The Moon Under Water Pub was quietly busy for a Wednesday afternoon. I was glad to escape the chilly March rain that sliced my face like a dull razor blade. I wiped off the London “sunshine” with a much-wrinkled handkerchief. Sally the barmaid offered a clean bar towel. “Alright, mate,” she said. “You look like you could use two or three fingers of barley-broo.”

“You’re as perspicacious as ever, Sally, gratefully using the towel. “Aberfeldy whisky, with just one small drop of tap water, please.”


No matter how often I stop in here, I’m impressed with the murmur of conversation among the patrons. No raised voices or raucous laughter.


In the center of the pub, two tables had been pushed together to accommodate four women and two men. One of the women was engrossed in earnest discussion with the men. She had a broad face, a high forehead, wonderfully bright brown eyes, and a rather mischievous look in those eyes. I’m not a good visual judge of one’s age but she appeared to be in her mid-fifties. From my vantage point, the body language of the men indicated that she controlled the conversation.


With two fingers of Aberfeldy whisky in a crystal glass, I moved closer to eavesdrop.


“In my generation,” declared one of the men who wore a Harris tweed jacket with the assurance of a university professor, “girls played with dolls and boys’ toys were lead soldiers and wooden guns. You women -“ his arm swept to include the quartet at the table - “are intent on redefining the accepted role of women.”


The other three women bridled at his comment, and let him have it in quiet, angry voices.


“Reginald, old boy,” said the woman with the bright eyes, “What we ask is to be human individuals, however peculiar and unexpected. It is no good saying: "You are a little girl and therefore you ought to like dolls"; if the answer is, ‘But I don't,’ there is no more to be said.”


“I’ll wager, Dorothy,” the other man chimed in, “you never liked dolls.”

“No, but I loved Jacko and Jocko, my stuffed monkeys.” The women chuckled.


Reginald tried a different tack. “On a similar subject, it’s obvious that today an increasing number of women are entering the job market instead of staying in the home, which has been their role since the time of cave dwellers. I don’t have a problem with women secretaries, or nurses and such, as long as they can keep their homes clean. But young married women will have babies, and her employer must find and train a replacement who likely will repeat the married with children routine. Women in business or a profession are not going to stay in a job for an extended period.” He looked at Dorothy. “Of course, as a writer you’ve never had a real job.”


Dorothy stood, laughing melodiously. “You’re correct, Reggie. Writing mysteries, essays, theological treatises is a piece of kidney pie, so easy even a man could do it. But I did work as a copywriter for an advertising firm for nine years, and I was rather good at it if I must say so. Perhaps you may be able to recite the Guinness Zoo jingles I wrote. Remember the Toucan jingle?”


One of the women recited, “If he can say, as you can, Guinness is good for you, How grand to be a Toucan. Just think what Toucan do.”


“You know, gentlemen, unfortunately you’re not the first men we’ve heard spouting the notion that, with women, the job does not come first. What woman really prefers a job to a home and family? Very few, I admit. It is unfortunate that they should so often have to make the choice. A man does not, as a rule, have to choose. He gets both. Nevertheless, there have been women ... who had the choice, and chose the job and made a success of it. And there have been and are many men who have sacrificed their careers for women ... When it comes to a choice, then every man or woman has to choose as an individual human being, and, like a human being, take the consequences.”


Sally came up to ask if I needed a refill. “Who is that woman, Sally?” “Dorothy Leigh Sayers, the famous author. She writes the Lord Peter Wimsey mysteries.” “My gosh, Sally. I’ve read some of her books. The Nine Tailors, Whose Body? The Five Red Herrings.”


“I hope their discussion doesn’t rise to the level of the bar scene in The Five Red Herrings,” Sally observed.

“Oh, yeah, you’re referring to the dust-up between Campbell and Waters in the opening scene. That would not be allowed in here.”

“Aye, David, right you are.” She moved off to take care of other customers.


I returned to eavesdropping. The subject had changed to women as university students. I didn’t heard Reginald’s remark, but Dorothy’s response was a gem.


“When the pioneers of university training for women demanded that women should be admitted to the universities, the cry went up at once: ‘Why should women want to know about Aristotle?’ The answer is NOT that all women would be the better for knowing about Aristotle … but simply: ‘What women want as a class is irrelevant. I want to know about Aristotle. It is true that many women care nothing about him, and a great many male undergraduates turn pale and faint at the thought of him – but I, eccentric individual that I am, do want to know about Aristotle, and I submit that there is nothing in my shape or bodily functions which need prevent my knowing about him.”


I walked out of The Moon Under Water, determined to read Dorothy L. Sayers other works in addition to her terrific Lord Peter Wimsey books. Hmm. Women’s History Month, huh?


(Excerpts from Dorothy L. Sayers, Are Women Human? Astute and Witty Essays on the Role of Women in Society}.


Commercial Message: The Girl in the Orange Maillot will be published Tuesday, March 15. You may purchase your copy at my website, www.baileyherrington.com, or online at Barnes & Noble or Amazon.com. For readers in the Las Cruces area, I will be signing copies of “The Girl” at COAS bookstore on Main Street Saturday March 19, from 10 am to 12 noon.




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