On The Beach

This morning I watched a recording of last night’s rugby World Cup quarter final between Ireland and New Zealand, and this afternoon that between England and Fiji.

The rest of the day was spent completing my reading of

The copy I inherited from my Auntie Ivy contained a strip of glued

paper which I used as a bookmark.

Even before I reached “Here he learned for the first time of the Russo-Chinese war that had flared up out of the Israeli-Arab war….” on page 9 I had the sense that we were to be embroiled in a disaster to humanity displaying Shute’s prophetic facility. He only pinpointed one aspect of a world bent on self destruction, but did so chillingly, especially bearing in mind where we are at the moment on so many fronts.

We have a love story set against the background of the surge of radiation relentlessly progressing from the north to the south of the globe, where humanity is not expected to survive more than an ever decreasing few months.

With so many echoes of people’s responses to today’s various crises the author warns of what could be to come. His protagonists respond variously with scientific research, denial, resignation, planning for a future they cannot expect to have, partying, and preparation.

The compelling story keeps us gripped and scarcely daring to hope that all will eventually be well. The natural world may survive, but will humanity?

This evening we all dined on succulent roast chicken, fried potatoes and onions, meaty gravy, crunchy carrots, firm broccoli and Brussels sprouts., with which Jackie drank more Lieblich and I drank Doom Bar.

World Wide Web 1960

Early this morning I watched a recording of last night’s rugby World Cup match between Ireland and Scotland, and later that between Japan and Argentina live.

In her comments on

my blogging friend Lakshmi Bhat stated that the post reminded her of Nevil Shute’s “Trustee from the Toolroom”.

I had thought this not a book of which I knew. Later I remembered that a number of books by this author had been included in my Auntie Ivy Lynch’s library which she had bequeathed my decades ago.

Here is the jacket of the copy that bears Ivy’s signature.

Despite some of his works having been filmed I had not realised that the author was such an accomplished storyteller. This, his last novel, is skilfully crafted from start to finish.

It tells of the tragic death of a couple whose daughter was being cared for by the main protagonist and his wife, and consequent adoption of the child by the unexpected trustee. A hidden fortune and its discovery are the reason for a trip round the world for an ordinary, humble, man who had never before left his small London suburb, and who, after the extraordinary circumstances of his adventure remains with his personal values unshaken.

Had I not been one of Lakshmi’s blogging network, she would neither have read my “Burley Park Steam Fair” nor recommended the book. Nevil Shute could not have known about this community, yet the similarities of the development of friendships around the world based on respect for the magazine articles of Keith Stewart and his faithful correspondence with his readers is remarkably striking. Many of those who combine to help him on his journey have never met in person, nor ever will, yet he holds their respect through his regular responses to their queries, and to his acknowledged expertise.

As befits the aeronautical engineer that Shute was, he pays incredible attention to detail, which, when dealing with technical matters, cause my eyes to glaze over. This also affects the flow of his prose, tending to divert my attention. However, I did not wish to miss anything and was carried away on the waves. Everything is in its proper place and fixes the elements together.

Characterisation is developed through action rather than insights; we can discern who is and is not to be trusted, and experience the helpful tenderness exhibited by many.

Regular readers will appreciated my interest in what is left inside books. I wonder what my aunt was doing with this pressed curl of ribbon.

With our grandfamily dining out for their wedding anniversary, I enjoyed leftovers from last night with Hacienda Uvanis Garnacha Old Vines 2020, while the Culinary Queen chose cheese on toast, each slice topped with a fried egg, accompanied by Hoegaarden