Thursday, July 11, 2013

It looks as if you’re right again, Hat. I looked up Ann Jones’ Wikipedia entry – a distinguished career in tennis, but no mention of any award. She was more or less our neighbour in Birmingham when she won her great victory (I don’t mean that we ever met her). I remember the match – she beat Billie Jean King, as formidable an opponent as you could ask for, right up there with Mr Djokovic. The final point was a double fault from BJK, I’m pretty sure.

So the difficulties confronting the men-in-suits grow larger by the day.

If yesterday’s post was an essay on memory, today’s is about reading.

Our earlier conversation set me looking for our own copy of Howard’s End. It must be here somewhere. I briefly considered buying Susan Hill’s “Howard’s End is on the Landing” – I love her – but then I decided it was better to read than to read about reading.

I never did find Howard’s End. I hit upon Margery Allingham’s Tiger in the Smoke. I re-read it in a gulp while we were in Strathardle last week. What a treat you have in store, if you have never read it! Not much less of one, if it’s time for you to re-read it.

The best of her books – and that one is probably the best of the best – are utterly anchored in time. Not just background: the events in Tiger could only have happened in the immediate post-war years. Traitor’s Purse is another such, written during the war. The McGuffin is brilliant – Mr Campion wakes up in hospital at the beginning, not knowing who or where he is but aware that he has something important to do.

And the Dastardly Plot he eventually foils, is brilliant too. I believe reviewers at the time said that it was very clever, but a bit OTT. And then it turned out, after the war, that the Germans had had the same idea.

I have discovered just now, in clicking about to find out whether it was “Marjorie” or “Margery”, that she published a work of non-fiction,  “The Oaken Heart”, in 1941, about life in her Essex village when the invasion was expected with every full moon. I’ve ordered it.

I’m reading several things at once, at the moment. One of them – how’s this for grown-up? – hasn’t been published yet. It’s called “Before the Fall” and will be published next year. It is set in London during the Great War. Granddaughter Hellie, the literary agent, who is handling it, sent it to me as a .doc attachment and – here’s the grown-up bit – I have succeeded, with her help, in converting it into a proper book for the Kindle app on my iPad. It’s good.

I’m also reading a late John LeCarre, on paper, and something else which I will tell you about soon.

I got on fine with the socks yesterday, and should get very near the second heel this evening.


  1. JennyS10:56 AM

    I love our shared reading tastes as much as I admire your knitting :-)


  2. I'm glad to know about the Allingham non-fiction work and will look for it. I have most of the Campion books in paperback; they are old cheap copies and many are falling apart but every time I move or rearrange the library I end up keeping them anyway. Maybe I need to get them as e-books.
    Thanks for always having something interesting to say. Queer Joe led me to your blog fairly recently and I am so glad.

  3. Anonymous9:23 PM

    I greatly enjoy the Campion mysteries and Traitor's Purse is one of my favorites. I may have originally read an edition that didn't mention that an actual German plot was foiled, only discovering that fact at a later re-read. Tiger in the Smoke is also quite good. Hmmm...maybe it's time to start enjoying the Campion books again - it's been a few years. - Joe-in Wyoming

  4. I gather Dame Ellen Macarthur is thought to be the youngest person to be ennobled - she was 28. I don't know what the fuss is all about - there are plenty of Sirs who get their title when they are born! just think of the royal baby, she/he will have a fistful of titles from the beginning, and will no doubt 'earn' a few more along the way.

    So, if it's okay for the royal family to get a title when they are born, what's the problem with someone else getting a title when they are in their 20s?

  5. oh CAMPION - such fun! i agree that its time to re read them - i too have them in pback but the cost of replacing all of my pback mysteries (i have several bookcases full) is prohibitive...

    anyone for a book club to read golden age mysteries?