What do these phrases mean actually?
March 22, 2017 7:38 PM   Subscribe

From "The Third Man" by Green. Martins and the police are in the sewer chasing Harry. Martins said," It's odd thing-I don't even know your name." " Bates, sir." He gave a low laugh in the darkness. "This isn't my usual beat. Do you know the Horseshoe,sir?" "Yes." "And the Duke of Grafton?" "Yes." "Well, it takes a lot to make a world." My questions are..what the Horseshoe and the Duke of Grafton are and, what this Bates's last phrase means. I wonder if both are the names of the popular places like Sherlock Holmes House.. in the UK and if they are located in his usual beat ?? I googled them, but I couldn't find the answer.Thank you for helping me.
posted by mizukko to Writing & Language (8 answers total) 1 user marked this as a favorite
 
Could they be pubs, and Bates is trying to indicate that running down armed fugitives is not his regular beat?
posted by vrakatar at 7:42 PM on March 22, 2017 [2 favorites]


Good guess on pubs. Here's info on a Duke of Grafton and (among several options) a relatively nearby Horseshoe. I'd guess "it takes a lot to make a world" plays off the more well-known idioms "it takes all kinds to make a world" and/or "it's a funny old world" to say something like "strange and remarkable chance occurrences involving two different people must inevitably happen."
posted by Wobbuffet at 8:05 PM on March 22, 2017 [1 favorite]


A "beat" is just an area of patrol (or speciality of patrol). The Horseshoe and Duke of Grafton are typical English pub names. I can only guess at "it takes a lot to make a world" - a page or so back there are some lines about "the world beneath our feet", that is, the world of the sewers.

So it's a clipped and poetic reflection on the the fact that the place most of us usually inhabit - the surface of the city - is only a fraction of the "world".

"It takes a lot to make a world" = "The world is more than just our beat"
posted by turbid dahlia at 8:09 PM on March 22, 2017 [1 favorite]


I just grabbed down my copy of The Third Man to get some context on the passage and saw this bit from Bates immediately before: "They are all down here now. The sewer police, I mean. They know this place just as I know the Tottenham Court Road. I wish my old woman could see me now."

So the intimation here (and later, where Bates's corpse is memorialized with another reference to the Tottenham Court Road) is that this British military policeman in Vienna is far from home and hopelessly nostalgic; in building a connection with Martins, he's talking about places of note back home in London.

Bates is almost certainly referring to two St. Pancras public houses: the "Duke of Grafton" was at the intersection of Tottenham Court Road and Euston Road, while the "Horseshoe" was on Charlotte Street, two blocks off of Tottenham Court Road. They'd both plausibly be familiar to a cop who claimed the TCR as his beat in the early-to-mid 20th century.
posted by jackbishop at 9:05 PM on March 22, 2017 [16 favorites]


Yes, the reference to the two pubs (which would be obvious to a British reader, as the author expected) allows Bates to establish the knowledge that Martins is used to the same environment that he is. "Well, it takes a lot to make a world" is usually a reference to acknowledging that there are bad things in the world as well as good. In this case, "a world" needs both the new (to them) unpleasant environment as well as the environment that they were used to and are comfortable with. It's Bates warning Martins (or at least acknowledging to him) that the situation is very different from what they have previously experienced.
posted by tillsbury at 12:19 AM on March 23, 2017 [3 favorites]


To me, the last phrase highlights the absurdity of two former beat coppers from the TCR working together in a European sewer. The familiar answer would have been “Small world” to bring Bates and Martins together, but in saying that it takes a lot (like the more common phrase “it takes all sorts to make a world”), a distance is created between them.
posted by scruss at 5:30 AM on March 23, 2017


To me, the last phrase highlights the absurdity of two former beat coppers from the TCR working together in a European sewer.

Martins isn't a cop, he's an American writer of cheap novelettes. He and Bates aren't even really from the same world; I assume Martins knows those pubs from his own travels, but they wouldn't be part of his daily experience.
posted by praemunire at 7:59 AM on March 23, 2017 [1 favorite]


Martins isn't a cop, he's an American writer of cheap novelettes.

In the original novella Rollo Martins is English, though a writer of Westerns, so it wouldn’t be strange for him to know the area and have spent time in the pubs of Bates’s former beat. It doesn’t spoil the film in the least, but there are several small details like this that make a little more sense as Graham Greene first wrote it.
posted by Quinbus Flestrin at 4:37 PM on March 23, 2017 [1 favorite]


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