A Freak Of Fate

This morning I carried out more dead-heading of roses.

My post ‘https://derrickjknight.com/2018/06/04/auntie-ivy-and-sir-edmund-hillary/explains that I inherited my aunt’s book collection.

Another of her volumes, from The Book Club, published by Michael Joseph in 1958, is the first of a series of five novellas by British writer H.E. Bates which was adapted for a hugely popular television series from 1991-1993.

Bates, and his readers, revel enviously in the somewhat sybaritic lifestyle of the Larkin family. I found it very difficult to put down the book which must have taken no more than three hours, completed after lunch, to enjoy. The prose romps along following the Larkins’s “perfick”ly carefree escapades. Just three spring weeks transform the life of a would-be tax inspector who is hopelessly enamoured by the eldest daughter in what must be the most blatant efforts at an arranged marriage imaginable.

Pop Larkin is the archetypical happy-go-lucky wide boy miraculously conjuring up wildly extravagant provisions for the voluptuously maternal Ma and their vibrant brood. The initially hapless Mr Charlton is defenceless against parental schemes and the seductive allure of Mariette.

The jacket designer has captured the chaotic contentment of the author’s work so well that it is a time that he or she remains anonymous.

I hope I have not divulged too much for those who have not seen

this series of extracts from the TV series. Apart from the wedding scene these clips are most faithful to the first book.

Pam Ferris and David Jason, straight from his role as dubious trader DelBoy in ‘Only Fools and Horses’. are ‘perfick’ as the pleasure loving parents; Philip Franks as the bashful young man; and Catherine Zeta Jones as the delectable daughter.

My copy of the book bears an inscription of significant coincidence for me. An address on the first page had me doing a double take. This is ‘W.V.S. Paddington, 313 Harrow Rd.’


gives details of what was then called the Women’s Voluntary Service.

I don’t know how Ivy acquired the book, but I certainly knew 313 Harrow Road. Some twenty years after the novel came into my possession I was, as Manager of Westminster Social Services, Area 1, in charge of that building, a former Victorian town hall. When my department moved in we had a number of tenants, being charitable organisations. W.V.S. was no longer one of those – that would surely have been an even more fortuitous freak of fate.

Later this afternoon I carried out further irrigation.

Jackie having returned this evening we dined on more of her delicious chicken jalfrezi and pilau rice with which she drank Hoegaarden and I drank Concha Y Toro Casillero del Diablo reserve 2107.


  1. How fun to go thru the inherited books and cool to find the address inside like that
    – I used to buy used books a lot and I regret not takin pictures of some of the notes that were inside on bookmarks or written on the covers

    And enjoyed the video trailer – if this show comes up I will give it a watch

  2. I’ve never read the book Derrick but loved the TV series. I’ve watched it on more than one occasion.

  3. I loved the Darling Buds on tv. I imagine the books would be marvellous 🙂 (S wonders how she might squeeze one in over the summer….)

  4. A great set of books playing to the characteristic feeling of the English that they are a lot smarter than any official….except among the officials of course. One wonders how tax men took to the books.

  5. I absolutely loved watching Darling Buds. A really interesting read Derrick. How incredibly coincidental that you should know the building inscribed in the book.

    1. I certainly was surprised. Sadly, the building is no more. Only the facade remains. The rest has been converted to flats. Thanks very much, John

  6. How wonderful! I wish there were more TV shows that did nothing else but make you smile and feel that life can really be enjoyed. And I never realised that the author was the same man who wrote “Fair Stood the Wind for France.”

  7. Welcome Home, Jackie! Hope you had a wonderful time! 🙂
    I think inheriting someone book collection would be so lovely and an amazing “gift”! Wow! 🙂 To me, better than $$$! 🙂
    The jacket design says, “A delightful read!” to me! 🙂 I need to see if I can locate a copy…I’d love to read it! 🙂
    I love looking at vintage books…I have some…I mostly collect old “readers” that were used to teach children to read, because I taught 5 and 6 year olds to read for MANY years. 🙂 I like finding anything written, or stuck, in an old book. It’s like a treasure or an adventure!
    HUGS!!! 🙂

  8. Sounds like a wonderful afternoon! I haven’t read or seen this saga, but will try to remember looking for it. I would love a nice, fun read to take my mind off the horrors of American politics at the moment. Cruelty and greed are such awful qualities of humanity. I much prefer the kinder, gentler sides.

  9. It sounds like you had a very pleasant day–gardening and reading an entire book (not to mention “further irrigation”). 🙂 I’ve heard the title, but I haven’t read the book or seen the TV series. Both look delightful.
    I hope Jackie had a wonderful trip.

  10. I enjoyed watching that show. Thanks for posting the link! I do love the book cover as well. I inherited a lot of books from my grandmother, and many of them are in other languages that I am sure she didn’t speak or read. My task is to imagine why she had them.

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