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 https://derrickjknight.com/2012/05/29/the-bees/ 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 M├ędoc.