The front cover of Iain Pears’ novel ‘An Instance Of The Fingerpost’ bears a quotation from P.D.James: ‘A fictional tour de force which combines erudition with mystery’. And she should know. I finished reading this book of Margery’s this morning. Four different narrators take it in turns to give their somewhat contradictory versions of a 17th Century tale that weaves into its rich tapestry genuine historical characters, both those with whose names we are familiar, and others more obscure. The element of mystery is so successful that I was unsure, until the last few of almost 700 pages, which of the strands we were actually meant to be unravelling. A clever book which I admired, I think an adherent of Umberto Eco may find it a little more entertaining than I did.
I then printed a copy of yesterday’s picture of Donna-Marie as a present for her that we delivered to the salon on our way to Ringwood, being the first of today’s Christmas shopping venues. From Ringwood we went on to Castlepoint, then to Highcliffe Castle’s gift shop. Incredibly we have nearly completed the task.
With the leaves on the trees still glowing warm in the gloom of a thoroughly cloud-covered day, we have observed that autumn seems to have come a little late this year. The next two photographs in my ‘posterity’ collection confirm that impression. They were taken in October fifty years ago when Cannizaro Park was resplendent in various shades of golden brown, and my brother Joseph sat gleefully tossing leaves. I have mentioned before how I, with first Vivien, then Jackie, took Joe around with us everywhere. It would have been Vivien accompanying me when I took the attached out of focus masterpiece.
Still public, this park on the edge of Wimbledon Common, is the remnants of the grounds of an 18th century country house, owned in the 1960s by Wimbledon Borough Council which became part of the London Borough of Merton. The house was sold in the 1980s, no doubt an example of Sir Harold MacMillan’s famous metaphor for privatisation, ‘selling off the family silver’. It is now an internationally patronised hotel in which Matthew once worked when Oliver Reed was in residence. When I had been not much older than my young sibling my parents had taken me and my brother and sisters to play in the gardens.
This evening we dined on haddock and chips, mushy peas, pickled onions and cornichons accompanied by Palastri pinot grigio 2012. Vanilla ice cream with strawberry jam and evaporated milk was to follow.
P.S. Alex Schneideman rebalanced my two historic photographs and e-mailed the results which I have substituted for my originals. Thank you Alex.