Friday 20 August 2010

Hawker’s Pot has moved

to darkest Gloucestershire and apologises for the break in transmission. These past weeks have been spent packing up all the technical apparatus for joke-making, the galvanometers, the polygraphs, the ancient typewriters, along with our library of dictionaries and thesauri and books of quotations. Which is not to mention those books we never read, but keep always close at hand, for the inspirations of their possible contents.* But finally all was packed into stout cardboard boxes with strengthened leather corners and carried down the muddy lanes to the waiting grocer’s truck. It rained heavily, of course, as it has rained all month, and we had much ado in our oilskin capes to keep the boxes dry. Meanwhile Henry the raven sat in the driver’s cab and shivered wetly.

How magnificent the countryside looked as we drove along, the tall trees majestic in the falling rain, the cattle clustered in the shelter of hedges, while on the wide green fields stood a few disconsolate crows. We were rather subdued and Algernon only managed a feeble joke about the grocer and the fruits of another man’s labours. The rain continued to fall, drifting across the surrounding fields in heavy veils, as we arrived and carried the boxes up muddy paths to a house that looked frankly familiar. Algernon assures me that it is quite a different house, simply chosen for its similarity to our old residence, and that the mighty Severn flows a mere ten miles from our doorstep, but I shall see for myself ... as soon as it stops raining. In the meantime:

I realised too late I had forgotten to bring gifts for my nephews. How they clamoured! I stilled their cries by carefully placing imaginary gifts on the table before them, thereby displaying remarkable presence of mind.
These currant buns are past their sell-by date. Impossible!


These prospective anchorites have reached their cell-by date.


(*What are the books, you ask, that remain unread? Well, for instance, E M Forster’s Where Angels Fear to Tread, his early foray into gangster fiction; or Bulgakov’s poignant portrait of a hard-drinking schoolteacher in the cocktail set; or Neville Shute’s classic novel where every aspect of the town in which the narrator lives -- a fringe of creeper over a doorway, the sleepy half-shuttered windows of the tall houses, the river like a lithe and silky stockinged leg -- remind him of a girl he once knew called Alice.)

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