Sunday, 28 May 2017




What an irresistible cover! This has been my 'handbag book' for the last week or so; each diary extract is just long enough to read between two bus/Tube stops. (I know ...that's highbrow literary criticism, but I'm just about to embark on a book for the day-job that I can barely physically lift. Does the publisher honestly think that any reader is going to bother flexing their muscles?
I do think that James Lees-Milne had a fabulous job, swanning around English country houses during the 1930s and 40s, persuading their fallen-on-hard-times owners to hand them over to the National Trust. One house, to be honest, sounds much the same as another; what I love is his waspish descriptions of the eccentric, batty owners and that slightly poignant feeling that, love them or loathe them, they are the last of a breed that is teetering on the edge of extinction. I'm a NT volunteer so I headed straight for the chapter on 'my' house and was with J L-M every step of the way down the long drive (I walked it yesterday} into grounds that were 'indescribably overgrown and unkempt' (they're simply gorgeous today) and waited at the back door (that grating noise has been fixed). An elderly man opened the door. 'He had red hair and a red face, carrot and port wine ... "The old alcoholic famly butler," I said to myself... Slowly he led me down a dark passage, his legs moving in painful jerks. At last he stopped outside a door and knocked nervously. An ancient voice cried, "Come in!" The seedy butler then said to me, "Daddy is expecting you," and left me ...'   

5 comments:

Veronica Cooke said...

Yes!

I have to read this...off to the library page to reserve it!

Many thanks.

Mary said...

It's a very slim volume, Veronica; it did make me want to read the full diaries.

Lucille said...

Could you please recommend a handbag book for a bag measuring 17cm x 13cm? You've never failed me yet.

Mary said...

That doesn't sound big enough for a hanky, Lucille! No, you'll just have to rip the crossword out of The Times! I'm so impressed by people who can travel light, I seem to drag so much junk wherever I go.

Lucille said...

I have been known to travel with Oyster card, one bank card, keys and phone in various pockets, such is my loathing for heavy bags.