John Lawrence

Regent Street lights 12.64Reindeer was the theme of 1964’s Regent Street lights.  I was there that December, never dreaming I would one day send the image around the world as an advent calendar picture.

I very rarely read a book twice, especially by accident.  In my ‘Bookmarks’ post I explained one of my methods for ensuring this.  When I recently began to read the Folio Society ‘The Best of Raconteurs, I felt sure I had read this collection of anecdotes, but a quick glance didn’t trigger any memories, except for one extract from Jessica Mitford and another from Geoffrey Willans and Ronald Searle.  I knew that I had read the books from which they were taken.  Not only that, but there appeared to be no marker enclosed.  Imagine my dismay, then, when last night between pages 236 and 237 I found a very thin till receipt from Headmasters (my hairdressers at the time)  of Wimbledon Village dated 11.11.10.  There is no escaping the fact that I have almost finished reading a book twice.

Pondering the receipt’s date I realise that I read the book in my post-operative state in our Ridgway flat.  Still on pain relief and precautionary blood-thinner; suffering from an infection picked up in my two nights and one day in hospital; and recovering from the anaesthetic required for a hip replacement, I wasn’t really very with it.  That’s my excuse, any way.  It is absolutely nothing whatever to do with my age.  Now, where was I?

Enhanced by John Lawrence’s delightful illustrations, the selection made by Sheridan Morley and Tim Heald consists of snippets of a few lines, or pieces ten or more pages long; some humorous, some descriptive, some historical, some salutary.

The artist is one of my favourite book illustrators.  His deceptively sketchy style belies the careful work that has gone into making the numerous humorous and lively little vignettes scattered amidst the text.  The cover boards of the slender volume bear representations of examples of some of the contributors seated around an after dinner table. Folio Raconteurs As the front cover alone shows, Lawrence has provided images of such articulate accuracy that we immediately know that we will be treated to pieces from the pens or the mouths of, clockwise from top left, Joyce Grenfell, Groucho Marx, Woody Allen, George Bernard Shaw, Robert Morley and Dr Samuel Johnson.

This afternoon I made a start on Voltaire’s ‘Le blanc et le noir’.

Threatened with a storm to render our journey dangerous, we set off earlier than usual for the annual prebendal choristers’ carol service at Chichester Cathedral, after which, along with Becky, Flo, and Ian we are booked into The Crown at Emsworth for our dinner.  By the time we return home it will be too late to post the events, so I will report again toorrow.

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