Friday, July 31, 2020

All is more or less well, the ribs somewhat subdued. I have even knit a bit – those long, long rows seem even longer now that I’ve lost my place in the MKAL. I have circumnavigated the Gardens most days, thanks to either Helen or C.


Bonnie, thank you thank you for the link to Amazon’s “Suitable Boy” for the Kindle. Why couldn’t I find that for myself? I bought it at once and replaced the physical volume on the shelf and am very much enjoying my re-reading. I don’t see how a six-part television series can come anywhere near doing justice to it. It is a book about India, and independence, and Partition. A husband for Lata is but a fraction of it.


Amit – who sounds to me like an autobiographical character, i.e. a spokesman for Vikram Seth himself – explains at one point how novel-writing is like Indian classical music: “First you take one note and explore it for a while, then another to discover its possibilities, then perhaps you get to the dominant, and pause for a bit, and it’s only gradually that the phrases begin to form and the tabla joins in with the beat…and then the more brilliant improvisations and diversions begin, with the main theme returning from time to time, and finally it all speeds up and the excitement increases to a climax.”


That certainly is something like the program here.




Tamar, thank you for the notion of the wandering team of improvers who go from one website to another. They have infested Mindful Chef, who have been sending me food boxes for the last couple of years. I may have to drop them altogether, if I can figure out how to do it.


Tomorrow I am going to Helen’s house to see her garden and perhaps have my hair washed and cut. (What with the rules changing from day to day, and Scotland being different from England, it's impossible to know what is allowed.) I look more and more like a German philosopher. Helen and Rachel and Alexander (James, a passionate gardener, disdains vegetables) – have all brought in a fine potato harvest which they don’t want. How can you not want freshly-dug potatoes? Steamed! Butter! Salt! Pepper! Maybe I can bring three or four back home with me tomorrow.

Wednesday, July 29, 2020

After I wrote to you yesterday, I went to YouTube and looked up Eartha Kitt. Wow! She cuts across 70 years like a knife through butter. What a voice! What a woman! I suppose I should add, What a song! Go to YouTube and ask for Eartha Kitt Monotonous – for that is the song with Sherman Billingsley in it.


I felt a bit better today, and Helen got me around the garden once. The ribs are still uncomfortable. Archie is coming tomorrow – we have many piles of paper to sort through and may or may not attempt the garden.


I haven’t done any knitting today. I read some “Suitable Boy”. I would have been willing to buy a Kindle copy, for the sake of easy handling, but there doesn’t seem to be one. It takes two hands to hold the book open – not very good for either knitting or eating.


Blogger has got a new setup. It will take me a while to learn to cope with it. Why do people keep doing this?

Tuesday, July 28, 2020

A bad night, and I felt rotten this morning with rib pain. I postponed my personal training – she always makes me feel better, but today I don’t think I could have done enough to qualify. I resumed paracetamol, which I had abandoned completely at least a week ago. That helped.


Mary Lou, I was so glad that you recognised my quotation – You can’t chop your mother up in Massachusetts. I Google’d it, and found someone called the Chad Mitchell trio, who apparently had something of a hit with it. I don’t care for their version. It comes from a revue – that’s a theatrical form which has completely perished – called “New Faces of ‘52” which later became a movie. Google reminds me that it was Eartha Kitt’s debut. “Sherman Billingsley cooks for me.” There are worse ways of dealing with racism than skewering it with satire.


(Sherman Billingsley was the Stork Club, and I was told at the time that he had turned somebody black away in a notorious incident. All New York fell for Eartha and must have been laughing at him.)


I must have seen both revue and movie, because I remember that the movie cut out one or two of the higher-brow sketches – in particular, a send up of (I think) Truman Capote’s “Other Voices, Other Rooms”: “four hundred pages and noooooothin’ happens”.


I got the shawl-knitting re-started today while watching Episode One of “A Suitable Boy”. It demanded a good deal of watching, so not much knitting. I’m not sure what I think of it. Too much, too fast? I re-read the first few pages later. Seth does a brilliant job of introducing a great many characters in the first few pages – but he’s got a great big book to work with. The adapter is the same man who did the brilliant BBC “Pride and Prejudice” – but that’s a much shorter book, and perhaps he was even allowed more than six episodes that time.


I’ve attempted “A Gentleman in Moscow” but am so far not gripped. No love. I feel it’s time for me to read a big one – go on with “A Suitable Boy”? Tackle the Tudors with Hilary Mantel? Or have another go at “Decline and Fall” – Gibbon, not Waugh?

Sunday, July 26, 2020

I’ve redeemed the shawl – that’s the knitting news. Picked up all those blasted stitches, one by one; then slid them back to the other end where the yarn was, also one by one, re-seating many and retrieving many others which had slipped back a row or two below the row I was picking up.

I’m now (I think) four long, long rows below the point where disaster struck, which was in turn two rows before the end of Clue 4. Three days’ work? However, having suffered through all this I now feel confident of finishing.

Mary Lou, I thought seriously about your hypothesis – had I carried the knitting to bed with me myself.  I really don’t think so. My practice, these days, is to huddle in the kitchen with my iPad, reading or watching foodie videos on Youtube, until it’s a reasonable hour for bed. And then I just go to bed – not even a book, these days.

Miraculously, the ball of yarn was carried in a sort of pouch created by the circular needle and the shawl – it didn’t unwind at all.

Last night, Paradox brought me the tee-shirt I had just taken off. She must be practising to be a dog.

Tamar, I very much like your idea of a cat-proof workbox. I’ve got a birthday on the horizon. I’ll spread the news.

I’m not tempted to join another MKAL, I’m afraid, although I will watch you guys’ adventures with interest.  I think I want an overview before I start, in the future – and anyway, at the moment, I have that EPS sweater to finish and that Orkney hat to knit.


I finished Barbara Pym, A Glass of Blessings or whatever it was called. Don’t know quite what to think. Don’t know at the moment where to turn next. Mary Lou, “Cold Comfort Farm” is a long way from “Love in a Cold Climate”. Will any of you recognise the allusion if I say that Massachusetts is a far cry from New York?

Saturday, July 25, 2020

Droopy. Helen came, and got me over to the garden, but half-way around we were threatened with a cloudburst (it was that sort of day) so we cut the adventure short. There were a few heavy drops, but it didn’t rain, then or later.

When I woke up this morning I found my knitting in bed beside me. A kindly thought on the part of some furry person. But unfortunately some thirty stitches or so – it’s slippery yarn – had slid off the end of the needle.

I struggled for a while this afternoon, and soon decided that the only thing to do was to take the whole thing back to a sound row. This is what lifelines are for, and I didn’t have one. I’ve done that, and have embarked on the task of retrieving the stitches. We’ll see. All I want is something that will pass the most cursory inspection.


I’ve finished “Love in a Cold Climate”. It’s good, and the ending is superb – Mitford finds a happy ending for four disparate characters in a single page, in a manner that would have left Trollope gasping.

I was struck with how similar in some respects the setting was to Trollope, 50 or 60 years earlier. The substructure of domestic service was there, and taken for granted. Even the money – a newly-impoverished couple have to live on £300 a year. That’s a sum that wouldn’t have been quite so limiting for a pair of Trollope’s characters, but we’re in the same ball park. Whereas if you add another 50 years you find yourself in 1970 and everything is completely different.

I’ve started reading Barbara Pym’s “A Glass of Blessings”. I was surprised to find it on my Kindle, and even more surprised when it fell open to an advanced chapter. I don’t remember a syllable of it. It’s tremendously ‘50’s. I’m awfully glad to have escaped from that decade.

Amyfibre (comments yesterday), thank you for the information about the Democratic convention. It sounds as if Theo should be busy and happy for a few weeks yet.

Friday, July 24, 2020

Improvement slow but steady. No more paracetamol. C. and I got once around the garden this morning. And I knit three long rows. Only two more, and I’ll be ready for Clue Five. Life looks a bit brighter.

I enjoyed Andrew and Andrea. It’s about machine knitting. I was tempted in my middle years. I don’t think, now, that it would ever have suited. It needs something like a workroom, for one thing. But still, very tempting and very interesting. A good program.

Little else to report. I’ve finished “Pursuit of Love” and started “Love in a Cold Climate” which is perhaps better, but certainly profits from one having read the first one first.

What are the Democrats going to do about their Convention? My nephew Theo is working for them, as I think I told you. He is, in fact, in charge of the Covid-19 aspect of things. But I feel Trump will have wrong-footed them if they now go ahead at all.

We’ve rescheduled Italian for Tuesday. I am currently basking in the freedom of not having it tomorrow, but will soon have to pull myself together.

Thursday, July 23, 2020

Comme ci, comme ca – mostly ca.

Helen came this morning to chivvy me out, but I was so droopy that she spared me and anyway it was raining. C. is coming tomorrow. I hope she’ll have better luck. No knitting at all. The new clue – the final edging – looks interesting. I hope it will spur me on.

Andrew and Andrea have just turned up – I had almost despaired. Perhaps I could even knit a row this evening while watching some of it.


I’ve finished “Ralph the Heir”, everybody paired off nicely. There is an interesting page of padding on the subject of how much less care we often take in choosing a partner for life, than a businessman would take in selecting an associate.

And I’ve read much of “The Pursuit of Love” while drooping. Not quite as wonderful as I remembered. Perhaps “Love in a Cold Climate” is better.

You’re right about laughter, Gretchen. One of the very few authors my husband and I gave up on, for bedtime reading, was P.G. Wodehouse. Impossible to read without laughing aloud – and that wasn’t conducive to sleep.

The big news on the literary front is that we are to have a six-part adaptation of “A Suitable Boy” starting on Sunday. Will six parts be enough? There was talk of such a venture, decades ago, not long after the book was published. I remember reading that the BBC had selected an Indian city to stand in for the fictional Brahmpur. Then silence. Vikram Seth himself says that it was all so long ago he doesn’t much care what changes they make.

Wednesday, July 22, 2020

My ribs continue to mend, but I feel as if I have been around another loop or two on the downward spiral.

Rachel phoned today (all well in London) and in the course of conversation she mentioned the perfect book for our Pandemic List: Nancy Mitford’s “Love in a Cold Climate”. You might as well read “The Pursuit of Love” first. Both are absolutely delicious and just what we need in these trying times. I am finding it hard to get through the last few pages of Trollope’s “Ralph the Heir” before I can take my own advice. He’s still got several characters to dispose of romantically, and he’s stalling a bit.

Not much knitting. Only one row, in fact, but that was a YO, k2tog row and therefore a bit slower even than normal. Five to go (no more pattern of any sort). New clue tomorrow. But I’ve got Italian homework to do. Life resumes its normal course.

Tuesday, July 21, 2020

Here I still am. I felt a bit anxious yesterday evening, on my own after a whole fortnight of having help within call. But all went well. The sore ribs continue to improve.

I knit industriously today and achieved four whole enormous rows of the Stillness Shawl MKAL Clue 4. That leaves six enormous rows to do. I clearly won’t be ready for Clue 5 on Thursday. Don’t miss KayT’s and Marilyn’s comments yesterday if you’re following the MKAL closely.


“Ralph the Heir” is not Trollope’s best but continues interesting. As often before, an entail figures prominently. This one is unusually interesting on class, and also has a humble character who is keen on capital and labour and the right to strike. Written in 1869.

Thank you for your enthusiastic contributions to the Reading in a Time of Pandemic project. Jane Austen, yes, indeed, Shandy. I’ve got “Eleanor Oliphant is Absolutely Fine” on my Kindle, but didn’t finish it. I must try again. Arthur Ransome has passed me by entirely. And I’ve also never heard of “Where the Crawdads Sing”.

MaureenTakoma, Barbara Pym I have heard of. I think she’s a brilliant idea. I haven’t looked at her for several decades. “A Gentleman in Moscow” is at least a familiar title. 

Monday, July 20, 2020

Helen will be here any moment to carry Archie off, and life returns to something like normal. We got out today and made a circuit of the garden, me using two sticks (which works rather well).

And knitting is back to something like normal, too – meaning three or perhaps even four of those enormous rows on the Stillness Shawl. I sort of feel that if I’m not ready for the fifth and final clue on Thursday, the whole thing will be doomed to FO-dom.

Marilyn sent me these pictures of her Stillness (and said I could show them to you):

The yarn is silk, and I think the result is far more beautiful than mine. I was surprised to see the colour-first-used reappear in the band that both she and I are currently at work on. I’m not going to think about it now: has she made a bold, and thoroughly successful, design change? Or have I got it wrong? I was disappointed that the colour-first-used (in my case, red) didn’t reappear in Clue Four.


I think someone needs to compile a reading list For These Trying Times. I’m doing fine with my minor Trollope, “Ralph the Heir”. I need to lay all of Trollope out in chronological order of composition and see where my gaps are.

Mary Lou, my mother taught English at Douglass College in NJ for a while. She had a black student once who surprised her by supposing that Huckleberry Finn was black. Why not? It’s rather touching, and a credit to Twain.

Sunday, July 19, 2020

I’m much better. It’s time to get moving again. I can sleep lying down – not that getting up is easy or comfortable, but I’ve worked out a system and I can do it. Archie is still here – going home tomorrow – and his presence has been a great comfort although in fact he hasn’t had much to do except occasional shopping. I will wear my falls alarm conscientiously once he’s gone.

I’ve knit a few more of those long, long rows. Maybe I can step things up tomorrow and finish Clue 4 by Wednesday?

As to reading, thank you for your excellent advice, Mary Lou, to avoid gloom for the moment. The first thing I thought of was an old fave, Molly Keane’s “Good Behaviour”. I’ve re-read it. It’s not nearly as cheerful as I remembered.

I have now resorted to Trollope. My first attempt was “The Bertrams”. It was on my iPad. The beginning is familiar. I don’t mind re-reading. I don’t mind starting again with something which has previously defeated me. But I don’t like not knowing which I am attempting to do. So I have switched to “Ralph the Heir” which I am confident is new territory.

I’ve got flowers on one of the climbing beans on my doorstep, and the avocado tree is going from strength to strength. Pictures tomorrow, even if there will be no knitting worth including.

Friday, July 17, 2020

All well. I am in less pain/discomfort and striving to remind myself that the status quo to which I aspire at the moment is simply the state of feebleness of which I constantly complain here. My main problem is recovering a sitting or standing position from a reclining one. I get up often in the night to pee, so this is a serious problem and I have been spending most nights sitting up uncomfortably in the wing chair.

Helen has gone off to Iona, and left Archie here with me. We are bumbling along quite well. And I could call for him in the night, if I absolutely find myself stranded on my back like a beetle. I have excused myself from both Italian and training this weekend, and am greatly looking forward to the hiatus.

I have spoken to a dr, who agreed with my diagnosis and offered stronger painkillers. I didn’t want that. Apparently there’s nothing else to do but wait.

Thank you very much indeed for your kind messages. Tell the Senior Cat, please, Catdownunder, that his sympathy was especially appreciated.

All the knitting in Kirkmichael was done before the crash. Since then, almost nothing. I have, however, now started Clue 4 of the MKAL. We are up to 521 stitches so rows are endless. Otherwise nothing much happens in Clue Four. I doubt if I’ll finish before next Thursday. I’m afraid I still don’t like it much, KayT,  but at least feel secure that I will finish. The EPS will just have to wait, but at least it was substantially advanced in Kirkmichael. Then the Orkney hat.


I thought – this is gloomy – that I would re-read Simone de Beauvoir’s “A Very Easy Death”, about her mother. It arrived from Amazon today (no Kindle available). I had remembered Death getting his foot in the door with an accident of about the severity of my recent one, but no: Old Mme de Beauvoir fell and broke the neck of her femur. That’s a good deal worse. And she was only 77, ten years younger than I am. So not much parallel there. It is a grim book, which I read long ago. I don’t know whether I’ll persevere.
When Helen was living and working in NYC, many years ago, a friend rang up from England. Helen turned from the phone in tears. “Simone de Beauvoir is dead.” One of the other girls laid a sympathetic hand on her shoulder: “Is that your dog?”

Monday, July 13, 2020

Home again.

All these years – Paradox will be three in August – I have thought that all I had to do was get her to Strathardle when she was in heat, and she (and I) would have our longed-for box of kittens. Her heats are not frequent. My only fear was that she would elope with Young Lochinvar. Not so. She spent the entire time walking up and down the garden calling for love. There were no takers. No wonder kittens are so expensive.

If gentleman cats are so infrequent, maybe she and Perdita are full sisters.

Yesterday – it seems more distant – an old friend came by, and we sat in the garden drinking tea and catching up on Kirkmichael news. There’s nothing like a village for news. Then the right-hand legs of my chair suddenly sank into the turf – had a cat jumped on my lap? – and I slid gracefully down to the ground. No harm done. But on the way down, I collided with another, sturdy chair. I think I have bruised, or even cracked, a rib or two. I have been in quite a lot of discomfort since.

I got a lot of knitting done. Why should I have so much more time there than here? I finished Clue Three of the Stillness Shawl MKAL yesterday (clues are issued on Thursdays). The second sleeve of the EPS sweater is very nearly done.

I think I am getting better, although sneezing, coughing and belching are still quite painful. Archie is here, and will sleep in the spare room again tomorrow night. He is a considerable comfort. Getting in and out of bed is tough. I slept sitting up in the wing chair last night.

I will suspend blog-writing until I am a bit more comfortable. It shouldn’t be long. Love to you all.

Monday, July 06, 2020

All well, I guess. My Personal Trainer came this morning, so I am well exercised. The sourdough turned out all right. I’ve packed my knitting (both projects) and the cats’ requirements for tomorrow’s departure; I ought to be able to manage the rest tomorrow morning. In the Good Old Days there was separate knitting at Kirkmichael at all times, and no cats.

I haven’t quite finished Clue Two of the MKAL. I had a look at the Ravelry group. I think I like it better when the stripes – in the oft-repeated stripey sections – are crisply distinguished. If I were starting again, I might deploy my three colours differently. But I’m certainly not going to start again.

Here is the sketch my friend sent, for his hoped-for Orkney Flag hat. I’ve already told him that the pattern can’t extend into the ribbing:

But I’m also worried about the top – decreasing while maintaining the flag pattern. I think the first thing is to chart the flag, and perhaps even practise it; and see whether it can be completed before decreasing for the crown. Comments very welcome.


I got a delicious book in the mail today, via Abebooks, called “Mr Hardie”. It’s just the sort of thing my husband and I would have liked for bedtime reading. Sybille Bedford mentions it in that fragmented autobiography I have just finished reading (and is thanked in the introduction). It is the biography of his father, Mr Justice McCardie, by his illegitimate son, Henry Archer. Very well written.

You can get through a lot in sixty years, if you keep at it. We read a lot of big-league stuff, “Ulysses”, “War and Peace”, but also often noticed the obituaries of interesting-sounding authors we had never heard of, and tried them. “Mr Hardie” comes close to that category. We had embarked on the Scott-Moncrieff translation of Proust when my husband died. I will never resume it.

Thank you for all your help with "A Woman of No Importance". It's there on YouTube, but blocked in Britain. Maybe it's not as good as I remember.

So: off to Kirkmichael tomorrow. I don’t know when I’ll be back. About a week, probably.

Sunday, July 05, 2020

I’m making sourdough to take to Kirkmichael on Tuesday. All is going well, I think. The final shaping and overnight refrigeration remain to be done.

I’ve mislaid my watch. It is of the cheapest, and of no sentimental value, with an honest Arabic face and accurate to a degree that one would have had to pay big bucks for, in my youth. Where could it be? I am distressed.

C. came this morning and we got around the garden twice. Then came virtual coffee among fellow non-Mass-goers. The man who organises it all, and is in charge of Zoom, has asked me to knit him a hat with the Orkney flag. He encloses a sketch, and I think I could do it. I’ll certainly try. I’m terribly pleased to be asked.

Meanwhile the MKAL progresses. I’m doing the next band of stripes, and I agree with you, KayT, that the stripes are the element I mostly dislike. I hope I’ll do a few more this evening, though.


I was delighted by your email, Cynthia, with the link to the old “Woman of No Importance”, and decided to watch it right then, although that meant staying up beyond my bedtime. Alas, it is not available in “your country”. I went to the BBC website and got the same message. It’s good to know that a copy exists, anyway. I tried to reply to your comment but, as happens to so many of us, my words evaporated.

Sarah, this whole “Talking Heads” enterprise is very gloomy – but I think “Woman of No Importance”, if we could but watch it, would perhaps lift the mood slightly. None of the characters are bad people.

Saturday, July 04, 2020

A peaceful day. Helen came to see me but didn’t have time for a walk. I wasn’t sorry.

I knit resolutely on with the MKAL. I’m not greatly enamoured with the way it’s turning out:

I don’t feel it’s doing justice to the beautiful yarns. But if great enamourment is what you’re looking for, don’t opt for an MKAL. I’m on course to finish the second clue before we go to Kirkmichael, but I may take both knittings with me anyway.


No, Shandy. The Patricia Routledge “Talking Heads” I remember so vividly (I think) and was looking forward to seeing re-made, is not the letter-writing one, nor whatever is coming next week. It may be called “A Woman of No Importance”. She works in an office, and she’s boring. She’s nobody’s special friend. Then one day she has an alarming symptom and goes to the doctor – that’s a lovely scene, where a young trainee finds the cancer and is proud of himself, but the older doctor treats her with sympathy.

Then she goes into hospital and has a horrible operation and gradually dies.

And all this is done with Alan Bennett’s marvellous language. Nothing is said; everything is implied. Patricia Routledge’s own line is “They don’t know what it is.”

Nowadays everything is explicit. Maybe it couldn’t be re-made.

Friday, July 03, 2020

More rain. The plants love it. C. came and we got once around the garden. Wee Hamish is eight weeks old today.

I am knitting frantically on Clue Two (of the Stillness Shawl MKAL) in the hopes of finishing by Monday so that I can go to Kirkmichael with the EPS and a clear conscience on Tuesday. This whole business is really a bit silly, but it is a wonderful spur to getting some knitting done.

I visited the Ravelry group. Lots of people seem to find themselves a stitch or two short after the most recent increase row. Why should that be? Not many, however, were as short as I was. I’ve nearly caught up, adding a stitch here and there.

No, Shandy, I don’t remember Franklin talking to us about YO’s separate from their decreases in lace knitting. I would say I remember the day pretty well, but not that. (Shandy and I, who had not met previously, signed up for classes Franklin was teaching at Loop in London. We met at the nearby subway station, and recognised each other without difficulty. It was a very happy day.)


David had a straightforward trip back to Thessaloniki, in an uncrowded plane. No fuss about re-entry to Greece. He changed planes in Amsterdam, but that can’t have disguised his essential Britishness.

I had a look at forthcoming Alan Bennetts in BBC iPlayer (thank you, Shar), and it would appear that the one I had remembered and had been so looking forward to, isn’t there. I’ll keep hoping until the series is over, however.

Thursday, July 02, 2020

All well. Helen came by, after dropping David at the airport, and we got once around the garden, anyway. I hope I will hear tomorrow what his journey was like. Yes, indeed, Shandy, he had surgery not all that long ago, for diverticulitis, and he has had a previous go with atrial fibrillation, too.

Clue no. Two for the Stillness MKAL arrived. It involves the first colour (red, in my case) and some supposedly simple lace. I didn’t find it entirely so.

For one thing, YO’s and decreases are separated. I’m not used to that. Far worse: I got all the way to the end of the first pattern row and discovered that I should have done k6 between each of the two decreases, not k5. I was knitting from the chart, and not paying enough attention. Odd numbers of stitches are far commoner than even numbers – the same applies to Fair Isle.

Could I fudge it? I decided not. So I tinked the row and started again. I am 3 or 4 stitches short of the total I should have. How did that happen? But I think I can introduce the missing stitches unobtrusively. And otherwise all is well.

Two more Alan Bennett Talking Heads. I am beginning to fear we are not going to get a re-make of the Patricia Routledge one I was particularly looking forward to. 

Wednesday, July 01, 2020

David and Helen both came to see me this morning. The weather was dark and gloomy, not quite raining. They tried hard to get me out, but I refused. David is going to (try to) go back to Thessaloniki tomorrow. I preferred to sit and talk.

He had an episode of atrial fibrillation the other day, and I’m glad to say that he found a&e just as in the old days, not overwhelmed with Covid-19. They fixed him up. He tried to pay, since he is not taxed in Britain, but failed.

As for knitting, I did polish off Clue One of the MKAL yesterday evening, and today nearly finished the gradient stripes above the wrist of the second EPS sleeve while watching some Alan Bennett. Gloomier and gloomier. One of yesterday evening’s offerings (which I watched today) must have been one of the newly-written episodes. It was unbelievably gloomy, and totally unremembered. There’s one more tonight (tomorrow’s viewing, for me) – this one I remember fondly. About a clergyman’s alcoholic wife.


I’ve finished Sybille Bedford’s “Quicksands”. It has led me on to two other books, but both had to be ordered on paper so I can't comment yet. One is about the trial of John Bodkin Adams, a GP who was suspected of murdering a lot of his patients, but acquitted. Bedford attended the trial, and thought him innocent. (Sort of a forerunner of Harold Shipman, a GP who did murder an extraordinary number of patients.)

The account of her false marriage left me a bit uneasy. The registrar spotted the fact that bride and bridegroom were scarcely acquainted, and raised an official fuss. Several days passed in which Sybille’s high-placed friends pulled strings. She was issued with a British passport as soon as the wedding happened, and went straight back to France.

It was only about 20 years later (1957) that I got married. Nobody offered me a British passport.

The son of the proprietors of my corner shop got married recently, in Pakistan. He is Edinburgh-born, a recent graduate in engineering with a good job. The struggle to import his wife continues. I don’t suppose Covid-19 helps.