MORE PODCAST FUN (Plus, the Wit and Wisdom of Ariadne Oliver)

In what I hope will be a quarterly appointment for the next 75 years, JJ “The Invisible Event” McBloke has hosted Moira “Clothes in Books” Traychic and Yours “Ah Sweet Mystery” Truly for another deep, spoiler-filled, dive into an Agatha Christie novel! This time it was Cards on the Table, the third book Christie published in 1936 (after The A.B.C. Murders and Murder in Mesopotamia). 

I have to say I love spending time with these two, even when we’re trapped in little boxes on Zoom, but things got pretty dicey when talking about this title. We seemed to be in some disagreement over its quality and its importance to the canon. Fortunately, we’re all adults, and we had a great deal of fun expressing different opinions, both right (Moira’s and mine) and wrong (I forget the other fella’s name . . . )

When things get overly heated for you, I have added included here a few statements from the novel to calm you down. They’re all spoken by one of the book characters upon whom we could all agree: this is the first-time author Ariadne Oliver, a sort-of-stand-in for Christie, appears in a novel. It’s almost an audition for the future when she will become Poirot’s newest Watson. Mrs. Oliver injects the intense proceedings with humor throughout, and if you start feeling tense when the fur flies during this podcast, have a look at some of her best comments below (although, in the spirit of the whole event, they include spoilers as well):  

*.  *.  *.  *.  *.  *

Zoe Wanamaker as Mrs. Oliver

Supt. Battle:   In real life people don’t bother about being too subtle, Mrs. Oliver. They usually stick to arsenic because it’s nice and handy to get hold of.

Mrs. Oliver:    Nonsense! That’s simply because there are lots of crimes you people at Scotland Yard never find out. Now if you had a woman there – 

Battle:             As a matter of fact we have – 

Mrs. Oliver:    yes, those dreadful police women in funny hats who bother people in parks! I mean a woman at the head of things. Women know about crime.

*.  *.  *.  *.  *.  *

Battle:             I get you. A party of eight and himself. Four sleuths, so to speak – and four murderers!

Mrs. Oliver:    It’s impossible! Absolutely impossible. None of those people can be criminals.

Battle:             I wouldn’t be so sure of that, Mrs. Oliver. Murderers look and behave very much like everybody else. Nice, quiet, well-behaved reasonable folk, very often.

Oliver:             In that case, it’s Doctor Roberts. I felt instinctively that there was something wrong with that man as soon as I saw him. my instincts never lie.

*.  *.  *.  *.  *.  *

Battle:             I enjoyed your last (novel), Mrs. Oliver. I thought one where all the chief constables were shot simultaneously. You just slipped up once or twice on official details. I know you’re keen on accuracy, so I wondered if – 

Mrs. Oliver:    As a matter of fact I don’t care two pins about accuracy. Who is accurate? Nobody nowadays. If a reporter writes that a beautiful girl of twenty-two dies by turning on the gas after looking out over the sea and kissing her favorite Labrador, Bob, goodbye, does anybody make a fuss because the girl was twenty-six, the room faced inland, and the dog was a Sealyham terrier called Bonnie? . . . What really matters is plenty of bodies! If the thing’s getting a little dull, some more blood cheers it up.

*.  *.  *.  *.  *.  *

Battle (to Constable): Go to the little smoking-room. You’ll find Anderson there with the four guests. Ask Doctor Roberts if he’ll be so good as to step this way.

Mrs. Oliver:    I should have kept him to the end. In a book I mean.

Battle:             Real life’s a bit different

Mrs. Oliver:    I know. Badly constructed.

*.  *.  *.  *.  *.  *

Mrs. Oliver:    I’ve written thirty-two books by now – and of course they’re all exactly the same really, as Monsieur Poirot seems to have noticed – but nobody else has; and I only regret one thing, making my detective a Finn. I don’t really know anything about Finns and I’m always getting letters from Finland pointing out something impossible that he’s said or done. They seem to read detective stories a good deal in Finland. I suppose it’s the long winters with no daylight. In Bulgaria and Romania they don’t seem to read at all. I’d have done better to have made him a Bulgarian.

*.  *.  *.  *.  *.  *

Mrs. Oliver:    What a good idea it would be if none of them had murdered him. If he’d asked them all, and then quietly committed suicide just for the fun of making a shemozzle.

*.  *.  *.  *.  *.  *

Rhoda Dawes: Oh, Mrs. Oliver, it must be marvelous to write.

Mrs. Oliver:    Why?

*.  *.  *.  *.  *.  *

(of Doctor Roberts): I never thought it was him. not for a minute. He’s too obvious, somehow. 

*.  *.  *.  *.  *.  *

Mrs. Oliver:    Do you like the wallpaper? I’m frightfully fond of birds. The foliage is supposed to be tropical. It makes me feel it’s a hot day even when it’s freezing. I can’t do anything unless I feel very, very warm. But Sven Hjerson breaks the ice on his bath every morning!

*.  *.  *.  *.  *.  *

Poirot:            I have always disapproved of murder.”

Mrs. Oliver:    What a delightfully droll way of putting it. Rather as though it were fox hunting or killing ospreys for hats.”

*.  *.  *.  *.  *.  *

(of Doctor Roberts): I always said he did it!

*.  *.  *.  *.  *.  *

Here’s the link to JJ’s podcast. I hope you have as much fun as we had. 

6 thoughts on “MORE PODCAST FUN (Plus, the Wit and Wisdom of Ariadne Oliver)

  1. Hi Brad, just dropping by to say I loved listening to your input on the CotT podcast. You were an eloquent champion for the book, making several great points that I didn’t see countered very convincingly at all by the opposition. Ah well, in the spirit of civility, everyone’s entitled to their opinion, (no matter how egregiously they fly in the face of fine literary taste). Looking forward to the next outing for your trio!

    Liked by 1 person

    • Thanks, AB. However, JJ has threatened that if one of us doesn’t throw some shade on the next book, he might pull the plug. Evidently, conflict sells, even in a non-fiction podcast, and JJ is clamoring for his BAFTA! Now, I love AMIA, and so does Moira! I plan on showing up and defending that classic, so if there’s no podcast, it can only be for one of three reasons:

      1) she wasn’t there
      1) she wasn’t there
      1) She wasn’t there


      • I am wonder how JJ will read that sentence aloud on the podcast .. will it be with the same enthusiasm as with which he read the Bridge score ?


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