In my intellectually fecund and energetic life I have read 31,492 works of fiction. In those in which qualms were mentioned, the reference was almost invariably to an absence of qualms, the usual formula being ‘X had no qualms about Y’, where X is some character (pun strictly intended), and Y a phrase containing a gerund. For example, ‘Martha had no qualms about kicking the dog’, or, for readers in my inner clique, ‘Petruces had no qualms about criticising the over-use of adknyton in the fifth stanza’. I recall only 2 works in which a character was said to ‘have’ qualms; in both cases the number of qualms in possession of the character was unspecified. In not a single book did a character possess a qualm in the singular. It seems natural, therefore, that an active and inquisitive mind should challenge a near universal reluctance to recognise and enumerate qualms. Let me set a bold example that the less confident might follow.
I have two qualms about developing this item for my blog:
Qualm one is common to all my postings: will the readership appreciate the sly nuances of humour , the crafty allusions, that prove, to the cognoscenti, the hand of a master at work, or will the post seem baffling trite tosh? I sometimes wonder.
Qualm two is specific to this post: is it possible to spin-out the meagre subject matter to 300 words, the lower limit for compliance with my style guide? Well, I suppose if anyone can do it, I can. Think of it as the weaving of the very finest silk scarf, the most diaphanous creation, barely possible to sense by touch, but dazzling to the eye; amply able to envelope the lissome Salome, yet so wondrously insubstantial to snake through the eye of the smallest of needles. There, 300 words, done.
I propose the formation of the Campaign for Heralding the Enumeration of Qualms, or CHEQ. Those wishing to support CHEQ should send a cheque to the usual address. Should the cause prove to be sufficiently
popular, I might extend the campaign to encompass other abstract nouns that are
over-represented in the unquantified plural in literary fiction, such as misgivings, feelings,
doubts, anxieties, and so on.