Yes indeed, what words came out that had such a magical effect? Something apt from “The Merchant of Venice”? I can’t quite see them being inspired by Shylock’s speech pinning Antonio down to donating a pound of his flesh.

I still remember quite a bit of the Rubaiyat: “Come, fill the Cup, and in the fire of Spring/Your Winter garment of Repentance fling./The Bird of Time has but a little way/To flutter – and the Bird is on the Wing.” So maybe that popped out.

Archy and Mehitabel are more promising. Loved the bit where Mehitabel the cat (Cleopatra in a previous life) mated with a prairie fox (oops!) and surreptiously placed the offspring in a garbage bin hoping for rain. Might have quoted Thurber’s sketch of a bowler hat on the ground and a man sternly asking the hippopotamus “What have you done with Dr. Milmoss?” Or, the couple in bed with a seal peering over the bedhead. Wife: “I could have sworn I heard a seal bark”.

Or Alice. Doubt that I quoted “The Walrus and the Carpenter” in case it reminded them of the oyster. Maybe the Queen and the croquet – “Off with her head!”, or the Mad Hatter’s Tea Party (which has so many parallels in modern life) or the grin of the Cheshire Cat as it faded away. So much material there.

Certainly I would have waxed eloquent on “The Wind in the Willows” and “The Odyssey”. I find them fascinating even today. I can still picture Toad tootling crazily along the road obsessed by his love of motor vehicles, and wonder why Odysseus spent so long with Calypso – 7 years – when he was supposedly busting to get home to Penelope on the wine-dark sea.