I liked these piled up and shamelessly outrageous examples of cleverness, although of their various skills, the first is the most impressive, suggesting an astonishing level of practical competence and dexterity.

It deserves to enter the language as standard: ‘He’s so clever he can nail a horseshoe on a louse.’  Try using it and let me know how you get on.


“That’s right,” another agreed.  “The Anavrytans are as bright as they make them. We can nail horseshoes on a louse.” He shut one of his eyes and a neat gesture with horny hands demonstrated this delicate smithery, the fingers of his left hand seeming to grasp a louse’s hind leg, while those of his right plied an elfine hammer.

“We can fly,” another said.

“We could sell you the air,” a fourth added.

“We sleep with one eye open,” explained yet a fifth.


Source: Patrick Leigh Fermor, Mani: Travels in the Southern Peloponnese, introduction by Michael Gorra, New York: New York Review of Books, 2006 (1958), p. 17

Photo credit: Alexas_Fotos at pixabay.com


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