The box of Myers papers came today – they’d been stored in the attic of the house my parents sold in 1952/3, so 60 years dormant. I haven’t had a chance to look through properly, and most of them seem to be clerical documents circa 1860, so maybe fascinating for students of the Anglican church in the C19th (?) but limited for me. However, I found this in a letter obviously from one of my great grandfather’s chums soon after he was ordained. I think it is perhaps a unique explanation of the urge to marry:
“I should like to hear all about you, whether you are settled in your parish … if you are soon to be married – for I find lots of young parsons do marry just after taking Priest’s Orders. Examination time is over and they take to love-making out of pure frolicsomeness, just as children who have just received a prize stand on their heads for very glee, or fall to breaking one another’s heads as soon as they are out of School … ”
‘Pure frolicsomeness’ – so that it what it was all about. All is explained.
I’ve been doing some sorting, to see if I have any photos of the house where the box of papers were found. No luck so far, but I have unearthed some old notebooks with the pony stories I churned out age about 11. So far my favourite bit begins:
Chapter 2 (I can’t find Chapter one, but just as well, this is obviously the right place to start)
“Everybody turned to look at her in astonishment. The hammer fell and the white stallion was hers!”
It’s downhill after that, I think, but definitely a good beginning.
A fascinating email yesterday from a woman whose in-laws lived for nearly 60 years in the house my parents had in the early 50s. They had rescued a box of Myers papers from the attic, presumably left there in 1953, and would I be interested to see them. You bet! She had only made the connection after browsing the beginning of Amateurs. So I await eagerly – she and her husband are kindly bringing the box later this month. It will probably be just a bunch of old bills, but of course I am imagining all sorts of amazing revelations. The secret diary that would fill in all the gaps. Some hint of how my grandfather lost his money – letters from his blackmailer, perhaps? A demanding mistress? A drug habit? How interesting that non fiction turns out to be as much an imaginative journey as fiction ever was.
The paperback isn’t officially released till next month, but the Daily Mail have already done a kind review
AMATEURS IN EDEN BY JOANNA HODGKIN (Virago £9.99)
Hodgkin’s mother Nancy, a beautiful but passive young artist, married the egotistical, jealous writer Lawrence Durrell (author of The Alexandria Quartet) and embarked upon a relationship marked by condescension and abuse.
A brief period when they lived with the eccentric Durrell clan in Corfu brought Nancy some joy, but it was short-lived, especially after the birth of their daughter.
Although Hodgkin is the child of Nancy’s second, successful, marriage, she has mined her mother’s memoirs and verbal accounts to paint this devastating portrait of a dysfunctional partnership, with a cast list of bohemian artists and writers adding to the chaotic period drama.
Not quite sure what has happened to the side of the cover, but it is heartening. Very short reviews are harder to write than longer ones, in my experience.
And just to be right up to date for once. I took these this morning in St James’s Park – Buckingham Palace looking moody, and a bunch of pigeons looking downright depressed. I know snow is inconvenient and people suffer and all the rest, but I never get tired of the way everything is transformed. Even pigeons.