An Epitome

The impending visit by storm Dennis determined that we batten down the hatches and stay indoors.

In the event the morning was quite mild so Jackie ventured out to Everton Nursery to purchase a couple of

double hellebores that she had heard they were stocking. One even held up its head at the prospect of being photographed.

I occupied myself reading more of The Pickwick Papers, from which

here are another half dozen of Charles Keeping’s splendid drawings. I will write more when I have finished the book, but this illustration of Sam Weller labouring over a love letter epitomises the artist’s adherence to the author’s description, even to the extent of resting his head on his left arm in his efforts to follow his letters across the page. (It may be helpful for anyone reading the text accompanying this illustration to know that ‘mother-in-law’ is an archaic term for stepmother).

This evening we dined on fine fusion fare consisting of tasty tempera prawns; a rack of pork ribs doused in plum sauce; savoury rice jam-packed with finely chopped omelette and vegetables; and tender mange-toutes, followed by moist and crunchy baklavas, with which the Culinary Queen drank Peroni and I drank Clos des Batuts Cahors 2017.

Keeping Dickens

Charle Keeping https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Charles_KeepingĀ was probably my favourite contemporary book illustrator. So, when, in the late 1970s, the Folio Society sought members’ recommendations for pairings of books and illustrators, there was only one possible submission for me.

In 1981 the first of the Dickens series was published. Derek Parker reviewed it thus

in The Times on 4th of June that year. This cutting is slipped inside The Pickwick Papers, which I am currently reading.

Normally I do not feature a book until I have finished it. In the case of this tome I might be some time. I will comment on the text when that time comes, but I have decided to take my readers on a ramble through Mr. Keeping’s signature line drawings as far as I have got.

Here is the frontispiece.

Such pagination as the overflowing layout allows will indicate the publisher’s generous proliferation of penmanship exuberantly deployed.

I have scanned full pages in order to display the artist’s scintillating gems bursting from the text.

Should there be sufficient interest I will present further pictures as I turn the pages of the book.

While I occupied myself preparing this post Jackie photographed a crab apple tree full of sparrows debating whether to trust a new feeder.

Strong winds and very heavy rain had beset us overnight and this morning.

Later, all was reasonably calm and we took a short drive into the afternoon sun.

Clear streams ran down the gutters on Holmsley Passage where

the crossing gate and scudding clouds were reflected in rippling pools.

Trees on the skyline stood against the lowering sun as it peered from behind the clouds;

a mud-caked pony nibbled at yellow gorse;

and the hide of chomping cattle was tinged with red outlines.

Sunset occurred as we returned by Holmsley Road. That, too, was reflected in waterlogged terrain.

This evening we dined with Elizabeth at Lal Quilla. I enjoyed Goan King Prawn; Elizabeth’s choice was Lamb Chana; and Jackie’s Chicken Sag. We shared mushroom and pilau rice, a plain paratha, and Tarka Dal. Jackie and I drank Kingfisher; Elizabeth chose Cobra. The welcome, food, and service were as good as ever.