Deeply in to old newspapers from 1920s, and enjoyed “All need regular meals, less worry and more sympathy”:
(North Devon Journal, 15/04/1920)
Robert Coles, 1999.
Impressively illustrated book about New Forest and Solent artists since the 17th century.
I liked this illustration by Heywood Sumner of his excavations in the New Forest (from Excavations in New Forest Pottery Sites, 1927). You can see the archaeologist / artist himself, musing or drawing.
(I know the Tay and its bridge well.)
A sky that tastes of rain that’s still to fall
And then of rain that falls and tastes of sky…
The colour of the country’s moist and subtle
In dusk’s expected rumour. Amplify
All you can see this evening and the broad
Water enlarges, Dundee slips by an age
Into its land before the lights come on.
Pale, mystic lamps lean on the river-road
Bleaching the city’s lunar after-image,
And there’s the moon, and there’s the setting sun.
The rail bridge melts in a dramatic haze.
Slow visibility – a long train floats
Through a stopped shower’s narrow waterways
Above rose-coloured river, dappled motes
In the eye and the narrow piers half-real
Until a cloud somewhere far in the west
Mixes its inks and draws iron and stone
In epic outlines, black and literal.
Now it is simple, weathered, plain, immodest
In waterlight and late hill-hidden sun.
High water adds freshwater-filtered salt
To the aquatic mirrors, a thin spice
That sharpens light on Middle Bank, a lilt
In the reflected moon’s analysis.
Mud’s sieved and rained from pewter into gold
Conjectural infinity’s outdone
By engineering, light and hydrous fact,
A waterfront that rises fold by fold
Into the stars beyond the last of stone,
A city’s elements, local, exact.
– Douglas Dunn
(As ever, I cannot resist a poem with a cat.)
It is summer, and we are in a house
That is not ours, sitting at a table
Enjoying minutes of a rented silence,
The upstairs people gone. The pigeons lull
To sleep the under-tens and invalids,
The tree shakes out its shadows to the grass,
The roses rove through the wilds of my neglect.
Our lives flap, and we have no hope of better
Happiness than this, not much to show for love
But how we are, and how this evening is,
Unpeopled, silent, and where we are alive
In a domestic love, seemingly alone,
All other lives worn down to trees and sunlight,
Looking forward to a visit from the cat.
– Douglas Dunn
D E Stevenson, 1939.
This is a lighter Stevenson (despite the first of my quotes below), bordering on farce at times. There are reviews at Leaves and Pages and Worthwhile Books which give a flavour of it. A couple of passages I liked:
When George had gone the house felt strangely empty and strangely silent. Cathy finished her flowers and bestowed the bowls of roses in their usual places about the house; and all at once, as she placed the big brown pottery bowl on the hall table and stood back to admire the effect, the futility of the thing swept over her. “What is the good?” she demanded of herself. “What is the point of wasting all that time doing flowers? How often have I filled these same silly bowls with flowers – spring flowers, summer flowers, or great shaggy-headed chrysanthemums – and how often shall I go on dong it? Does anyone ever notice them? Would anyone care if I stopped doing it? Would father or mother or Peter or anyone look round and say, ‘Hallo, no flowers!'”
She stood quite still, looking at her handiwork, and it seemed to her that life went on and on and nothing ever happened, and the thought depressed her beyond measure. She seemed to see, in the cycle of the flowers, the cycle of the years of her life – daffodils, sweet peas, roses, delphiniums, chrysanthemums, and beech leaves – and then daffodils again – hundreds of bowls of flowers representing hundred of hours’ work – and all quite useless. Cathy had never felt before that her life was useless and static, but now she could not dismiss the idea. Her reason told her that she was a useful member of society, for her family depended on her in all sorts of ways, and she gave each member of it something that he or she would have missed had it been withdrawn; but, in spite of this, her life seemed suddenly flat and stale and empty – and, worst of all, uneventful.
If Cathy could have stood apart and looked at her life from a distance, or stood still, poised between the past and the future, she would have been able to see that her life was not uneventful, and that it was certainly not static. Nobody’s life is static. … for, if nothing else is happening to them, there is change taking place in their own souls.
Cathy was unused to self-analysis. She was too busy thinking of other people to bother much about herself, so her sudden mood of self-pity took her by surprise, and after a few moments she gave herself a slittle shake and lifted her chin . . . . After all, I’m me, thought Cathy, and that’s always something. Nobody has ever been me before.
Mr Ferrier and Paddy are walking on the Roman Road and he is telling her about the Romans:
“So far from their homes!” said Paddy sadly.
Mr. Ferrier took the point. (He had often found that Paddy’s remarks, even when they seemed irrelevant, were not really irrelevant at all, but usually following a definite train of thought missing out several stations on the way.) “It is curious to think that the Romans, here in Britain, were farther from their homes than is possible in modern times,” he said thoughtfully. “I have not studied the matter seriously, but I believe it may be taken as a fact. There is no place in the world to-day so far from another place in time as the distance from here to Rome in 55 B.C. … ” [I’m not sure this is correct.]
George is trying to redirect Elma’s focus on him:
“Look here,” said George, “I’ll give you a book to read – a modern book that will teach you about the modern world. It’s no good filling your mind up with Sir Walter Scott and – and all that. Things are different now. You’ve got to live in To-day, so you had better learn about it.”
“Yes,” said Elma meekly.
George looked at his shelves and selected a couple of “Peter Wimsey” books. They were his own favourites and, as far as he could remember, they contained nothing which could bring a blush to the cheek of the most innocent maiden on earth. “You take these,” he said. “They’re all about a fellow called Peter Wimsey. You read them carefully and you’ll see what’s what. He’s a modern sort of chap, you know – not like Pendennis.”
“I like Pendennis,” Elma declared. “I think you resemble Pendennis. I thought so from the very – ”
“Oh, no, I don’t. And I don’t resemble Peter Wimsey, either,” said George.
(Later on, someone avoids a party by shutting himself in a room and reading Gaudy Night.)
John Bude, 1935 (British Library reprint, 2014).
I was a bit disappointed by this as found it rather dull. I did like the way the detective doesn’t detect all the time: “On Sunday Meredith took a well-earned rest and spent a lazy day before a roaring fire with the newspapers and the wireless”. Also we are twice told about his “customary high tea”. I also liked the reference to zips, which makes it clear that they are a novelty:
” … Do you know what it is?”
Mrs. Arkwright shook her head …
“It’s a “zip” fastener,” said Meredith. “Ever seen one before?”
“‘How silly of me! Of course I have, now I come to think of it. Mrs. Grath next door but one has got a hand-bag that opens with one of them things. … “