Weekend “Revelations”

It’s rare that we have a chance to hear what a stranger, viewing us from a distance, thinks we are. I found out one’s assumption. Over the weekend, one man in London told me.

Leaving Mass, I shook hands with the priest, which is customary as a priest usually waits at the church door while the congregation files out past him:

Me: “Thank you, Father…”

On a shelf at my in-laws: A 1944 book by a British academic trying to explain the United States and Americans to British readers.๐Ÿ“š๐Ÿ‡ฌ๐Ÿ‡ง . By then, there were a million or so Americans in Britain during what would be the last full year of World War 2.๐Ÿ‡บ๐Ÿ‡ธ๐ŸŒŽ๐Ÿ—ฝ . I love the first page of his Introduction – the 3rd photograph.โœ๏ธAmong other observations, he wonders if Americans prefer having a car to having a private bathroom.๐Ÿค”๐Ÿ˜‚ . Hope you're having a good weekend.๐Ÿ˜Š . #travel #education #history #England #worldwar2 #secondworldwar #Yanks #Americans #British #books #politics #humor #humour #hardcover #1944 #photos #photography #weekend #reference #memory #culture #expats #expatlife #writers #writing #authors #writersofinstagram #authorsofinstagram

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The age forty-ish (Polish) priest, shaking my hand, questions me: “I have not seen you. Where are you from?”

Me: “Originally America, but I live here now. Just visiting this parish…”

Priest: “America? I thought you were French?”

Me (smiling): “Oh, no, Father…”

My wife (having overheard), as we walked to our car: “French? You? He should only know…”๐Ÿ˜‚๐Ÿ˜‚๐Ÿ˜‚๐Ÿ˜‚๐Ÿ˜‚

Thought I’d start the week with a chuckle of sorts.

* * *

Less amusing, this:

While clearly attempting to compare Trump with Jefferson, Ms. Mitchell doesn’t choose to give any glimpse there as to why President Jefferson did what he did. That’s unfortunate. Most Americans probably don’t know.

In late 1805, Jefferson hosted one Sidi Soliman Mellimelli, an ambassador from Tunis, one of the Barbary States. Jefferson’s administration had been trying to avoid all-out war with them over the repeated seizures of American merchant ships and the imprisoning of their crews unless tribute was paid – an issue that had been plaguing the U.S. government since the 1780s. Mellimelli had arrived to seek tribute from the U.S., as well as to negotiate restitution by the U.S. for several Barbary ships captured by USS Constitution when they tried to run the U.S. blockade of Tripoli. It all may be read about in more detail here, at Monticello.org:

Mellimelli was in Washington during Ramadan, a month-long period in which Muslims fast from sunrise to sunset. To accommodate his guest’s religious obligation, Jefferson’s invitation to the President’s House on December 9 changed the time of dinner from the usual “half after three” to “precisely at sunset.”

While in Washington, Mellimelli was also “surprised at the social freedom women enjoyed in America,” had “flung his ‘magical’ cloak around Dolley Madison and murmured an incantation that promised she would bear a male child” (she and her husband, Secretary of State James Madison, were childless), and had reportedly referred to aboriginal Americans he had met as “vile hereticks” (for not being followers of Moses, Jesus, or Mohammed).

Mellimelli had also told Jefferson he needed to return home a success in his mission or he would be beheaded. While not unsympathetic, Jefferson was absolutely adamant that no tribute would be paid. The President did, however, send “gifts equivalent in cost to those sent to the United States by the bey” (the ruler of Tunis):

When Jefferson received “an uncommonly friendly letter from the Bey,” dated February 27, 1807, he concluded that the ambassador’s report had been accepted favorably in Tunis.

So the “gifts” seemed enough to have saved Mr. Mellimelli’s head.

* * *

I am, as you know, something of a Jefferson obsessive. He makes a pretty sizeable partly-historical/ partly-fictionalized appearance in Conventions, which opens while he was Minister to France in 1787. And over the weekend also, I saw this:

[Screen capture June 25 of Conventions, on Kindle, at Amazon.co.uk.]

I had also already noticed Conventions had been doing well, but not that well. I spotted that yesterday. It has since fallen back some this morning; and from what I can see the rankings tend to fluctuate greatly.

No doubt the temporary “99p” price has something to do with it. It’s interesting also because that proves while you do have to sell some, you don’t appear to have to sell a gazillion copies to make it into the “Top 100” of Kindle sales in various sub-genres in the UK – in those cases, “French historical fiction” and “United States historical fiction.” What we may accidentally learn.

Alas, no reference to a “romance” rank, though. Ah, well, we can’t have everything. Regardless, it does feel good to see your novel appear in the “Top Hundred” of anything – even if only perhaps briefly.

Have a good day, wherever you are in the world. ๐Ÿ™‚

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Author: โ€œConventions: The Garden At Paris,โ€ โ€œPassports,โ€ โ€œFrontiers,โ€ and โ€œDistances.โ€ British Airways frequent flier. Lover of the Catskill Mountains...and the 1700s. New novel of 1797-1805, "Tomorrow The Grace," due out in 2019.