The Reader

After a little clearance work in the garden I spent much of the day finishing reading

This is Penguin Books 1948 edition of Huxley’s novel first published in 1923. Today’s seven and a half pence is the current coin equivalent of the purchase price of one shilling and sixpence. We could, in 1948 have bought six of De Marco’s 3d ice creams mentioned in for that money.

At that time Penguin books were bound with stitching which must be one reason why this copy remains intact.

Huxley’s novel, allegedly comic, is to my mind a tragic farce focussing on London’s post WW1 promiscuous Bohemian intellectuals. His second work of fiction contains his usual exploration of ideas and includes a number of devices such as the dialogue of a musical play within the story. The writing is as fluid as ever although terms like ‘blackamoors’ and ‘nigger mask’ for a band of musicians and a piece of carving, albeit not meant in a derogatory sense, grate on modern ears.

Regular readers will know of my penchant for leaving bookmarks in my own copies for posterity to find within the pages. Sometime before the mid 1960s someone has beaten me to it

with this compliments slip, from perhaps Joan, who might have been trying to get her pen to work by scribbling as I sometimes do in order to make the ink flow. The telephone number is the key. Before the 1950s very few people had telephones and the early exchanges were operated manually by banks of usually female staff who connected callers to the required recipient. As in the number on this slip the areas were identified by the first letters of the location followed by four digits. All-digit numbers were introduced in the early 1960s, when the TEM of Temple Bar became 836. Later still London numbers were, in two stages, further divided to begin 0207 (inner) or 0208 (outer).

Watching me reading, and correctly assuming that this would all appear on today’s blog post, Jackie decided to make her own contribution in the forms of

her photograph of me and this Father’s Day card Becky sent me some years ago.

Shortly before sunset we drove to Barton on Sea to have a look at it. These are my photographs;

and here are Jackie’s,

with a couple of me.

This evening we dined on Jackie’s spicy paprika pork, tender runner beans, and boiled new potatoes, with which she drank Hoegaarden and I finished the Médoc.


  1. Sounds like a productive and enjoyable day, topped off with a lovely meal and improved by the presence of Aldous. I am a fan and as a Barton (maiden name), I would love to visit Barton on Sea!

  2. Beautiful photos from both of you, Derrick and Jackie!
    I remember the old telephone party line from childhood, and was fascinated by it. The world was new to me back then, and I found most things wondrous. 🙂

  3. It’s always a great day when one can relax and escape into the pages of a good book!
    Love the pairing of the photo of you reading and the man on the Father’s Day card reading. 🙂
    Your photos, and Jackie’s photos, are sublime! The sunset photos are like priceless masterpiece paintings!
    I like leaving, AND finding, treasures in books! I’ve found some interesting ones.

    1. I am pretty sure that you are correct, I think that seeing the ships there is certainly a new thing, I heard that the containers are taking a long time to be unloaded and queueing before getting into Southampton docks. All due to covid 19.

  4. I have not read this novel; will have to rectify my literary ignorance.
    Amusing juxtaposition of photo and card – compliments to Assistant Photographer. And spectacular photos of glorious sunset, both yours and Jackie’s.

  5. It turned out to be a long post today in which I meandered away to other posts prompted by you, and was reminded of my own childhood escapades.
    Those images in crepuscular light are surreal. Jackie’s shots of you look like paintings.

  6. I love that card you found in your book. I have an over active imagination, and I immediately thought of spies. 😏. I was also interested in the mention of tests because I’m a freelance test writer.
    I love the photo pairing of you in the chair with the illustration. The sunset photo series is gorgeous.
    I saw the comment above, and now I’m curious about the port of Philadelphia. I definitely see cargo ships sailing in and out from my view across the river, but I wonder if they are backed-up there, too.

  7. Brava to Jackie for the pair of reading man photos! The colors in the sunset photos are too spectacular for me to choose a favorite. If pressed, I would go with “Bournmouth at sunset by Jackie.”

  8. Gosh those telephone numbers…here in Melbourne in the 50’s we had a removalist firm called Wridgeway Brothers. Their radio jingle listing the phone number of WB1234 still spins in my head to this day and we never did use their services!

  9. Beautiful sunset pictures from you both! I also enjoyed seeing the pairing of the photo of you and the gentleman on the card.
    I have a 1948 edition of the Penguin ‘Antic Hay’, too! I can even remember our first telephone number from when I was very small – KIPling 5395

Leave a Reply

%d bloggers like this: