Given that such matters are never completed until they are completed, I have not mentioned the sale of my French house before. Today, however, I must give voice to it. The first signings in the final process are due to take place on 12th. The solicitor is due to sign on my behalf. To this end a document was e-mailed to me by my agent a few days ago. This contained seven errors. A corrected version was promised. I have not received it. I e-mailed the agent yesterday. She replied that the solicitor says he sent it and receipt was confirmed by my son. I left the agent two voicemail messages and an e-mail explaining that this was rubbish (one son in Australia, one in New Zealand, and another elsewhere in England). I have heard no more.

Just to complete my morning, I received a letter from NHS saying that my appointment with an eye consultant has been cancelled. Patient readers will know that a date was first fixed in November. This would not be until April. In December this was cancelled and I was given another for later this month. Today’s letter (dated 4th) doesn’t specify which appointment has been cancelled, and invites me to make another. This I could do neither on the telephone nor on line without a password which I don’t have. I was advised to contact the person who referred me. This was my GP. There is no information in the surgery after November. I was promised a call back from the GP’s secretary. It hasn’t come.

So I did some ironing, accompanied Jackie to a dental appointment, and read a book.

The book in question, which I finished later, is James Branch Cabell‘s Jurgen, A Comedy of Justice.

Soon after its publication in 1919 this humorous romp through the mediaeval period with references to Arthurian legend, and the eponymous hero’s trips to Heaven and Hell was charged with obscenity and banned in 1920 by the New York Society for the Suppression of Vice. The publisher, Robert M McBride and Company, brought to trial in 1922, was acquitted.

Now, there is absolutely nothing at all graphic about the original publication, which relies purely on phallic symbolism in the form of swords and lances; and such innuendo as can be gleaned from, for example, ‘exchanging pleasantries’ in the dark.

When an edition was produced containing Ray F. Coyle’s rather more suggestive illustrations in 1923, I suspect this may have been the publisher’s sweet revenge.

Like our own Aubrey Beardsley, the American Coyle died young. Beardsley was in the avant-garde of the Art Nouveau movement. This was followed by Art Deco, of which Coyle was a splendid exponent. The artist died of appendicitis soon after this work was published.


The very last word of this edition, repeated under the final illustration, is capable of two interpretations. ‘Explicit’, from the Latin, was used to indicate the closure of early books and manuscripts; modern readers will be well aware of its use to describe graphic sexual activity. Was this the author’s ultimate joke?

This evening we dined on pork, chorizo, and Jamaican pepper sausages from Hockey’s Farm shop; creamy mashed potato and swede; crisp carrots, and manges touts. I finished the Malbec