A Metaphor

This morning I finished reading the final book of Chesterton’s Father Brown stories. I have to say that these last works are not, on the whole, as enjoyable as the earlier ones. The writer seems to philosophise rather too much for this particular genre and to overwork the language. He seeks alliteration to the extent that the flow of the prose is disturbed. Exceptions are the last two tales, ‘An Insoluble Problem’, and ‘The Vampire of the Village’.

Apple tree

Untended fruit trees tend to send stems vertically skyward. So it was with the one tree we left in the cleared kitchen garden. We did, however, prune it heavily. Although much smaller, it now has a reasonable shape, and enough blossom to suggest there will be more than the meagre three apples we enjoyed last autumn.Apple blossom 1Apple blossom 2

Perceptive readers of ‘Becky’s Book’, knowing what came later, will realise that the apple tree in that story was a metaphor for the home I lost in Amity Grove. The current one symbolises a celebration of reunion.

This afternoon I worked in a similar manner to yesterday on a batch of colour slides I made of Jackie in November 1972. Here I present just two of them:Jackie 11.72 003 - Version 3Jackie 11.72008 - Version 3By this time I was no longer living in the family home, but visited at weekends to collect the children, and hopefully spend some time with their mother.

There are far too many classic books I have never got round to reading. One of these is Harper Lee’s ‘To Kill A Mocking Bird’. I have owned my Folio Society edition since its publication in 1996. Early this evening I read its unusual Introduction, by the writer Albert French. The original approach of this piece comes from its being an autobiographical sketch by a Black American teenage Marine on his way to serve in Vietnam. He knows what the book is about.

The proprietor of Hordle Chinese Take Away, who provided this evening’s dinner, has been dubbed ‘Mr Chatty Man’ by Jackie, because he is. Tonight she chose the set meal for two. We had such generous portions of rice, containing goodies such as prawns; sweet and sour chicken balls; chicken in black bean sauce; beef in ginger and spring onions; and amply filled pancake rolls, that we held some back for tomorrow’s lunch. My hefty pancake roll caused me some difficulty, and Jackie a certain amount of horrified amusement.

Have you ever tried to eat a large filled pancake with chopsticks?

We normally pick up that particular item of food with our fingers. Mine was too hot. First I tried to grasp it with the sticks. The roll slid off, and the chopsticks snapped shut. I tried spearing it with no more success. I resorted to repeated stabbing it and gripping the spilled innards with the implements. This wasn’t much more successful. I was relieved when it had cooled down enough for me to use my fingers. Mind you, it was falling to bits by then. So I returned to the chopsticks. With the meal I drank some of the Les Cornalines Chateuneuf du Pape 2013, which had been given to us by Anne on her visit a couple of days ago.



  1. I was new to ‘To Kill A Mocking Bird’ – just read it within the last year. Left a review on my blog, I think.

    I hopped over to ‘Becky’s Book’ – lovely.

  2. Derrick, Don’t you wish we could get pruned and grow back strong and newly reinvigorated? I would like that. I have noticed many writers who become a commercial success and then seem to be writing to fulfill the terms of a contract. Case in point, Alexander McCall Smith and, even to some extend, Miss Read. I think her real name was something like Dora Saint. I’m a huge fan of both, but in some instances, I felt they lost some of the joy of creating for whatever the reason was to them personally. Rosamunde Piltcher is another. I could feel that she wasn’t ready to turn out another book from the writing.

  3. ‘To Kill a Mocking Bird’ is one of those books that I read again and again since I first came upon it when I was young, but like you I have Folio volumes on my shelves that I’ve yet to read. Too many books, too little time, even though I usually have at least six books open at the same time. 🙂

  4. Mockingbird is a GCSE literature text Derrick, so I’ve read it many times with different students. It’s a wonderful book – I never get tired of it – you have a treat in store.

  5. Powerful book – used the Mockingbird in English class. Your post creates a range of of connections: my father was an excellent composer of trees. Even years after we left the fruit farm when I was 5 years of age, there were those framers that would hire my father or seek his advice on pruning trees and setting the graperies ( they were not vineyards and this is before the mechanized grape harvesters totally altered the cultivation process). We had beautiful cherry & dwarf apple trees in our yard. Cars would slow down to view the yard in blossom.

    As to Mockingbird, I had first encountered it as a teenager in high-school, eventually presenting it others as a secondary school teacher. Context changes, after having a child who is a Downs person and years as a Sp.ED teacher, Mockingbird’s Arthur Radley (Boo) has a different emotional resonance then he did when I his encountered him as a student.

    The meal sounds wonderful. All the best. 🙂

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