Tuesday, 7 April 2009

Reading at random

I recently borrowed, read and returned to my local library forthwith Camilla Morton's A year in High Heels. I had quite enjoyed her "How to Walk in High Heels", but the more recent title was not so informative, nor so useful. There was the occasional intersting snippet, but much of it was either stuff I've knoen about forever, or else stuff I've never felt the need to know.

However another random read was R C Sherriff's "The Fortnight in September" first published in 1931 and republished by Persephone Books. This was a delightful read, The Stevens family have booked their seaside boarding house accomodation in March, and now the day before their holiday has arrived. The story tells of their organising their departure, packing, setting off on the train to Bognor, and their happiness at being away for a whole fortnight. Their pleasures are simple ones - being on the beach and having a family game of cricket, going for a walk over the dons or along the shore, meeting a new friend and going out for an evening stroll, listening to the band playing. The story is written in simple language but nevertheless complex emotions and feelings are described, for although life for the Stevens family seems at first to be straightforward, different members have differing feelings and ambitions. The eldest son, Dick works out how to work towards an ambition he has to becoming an architect; the father enjoys the feeling of absolute freedom his solitary walks on the downs give him, away from all the cares of work; the mother enjoys her evenings on her own, sewing, which she never seems to have time for at home. Although the story ends on the last day of their holiday, the life of this family lives on in the imagination, as it would have done in real life. One part I particularly enjoyed was the journey to Bognor from Clapham Junction. Having recently undertaken this very same route by train, by inadvertently taking the wrong train at Clapham Junction, I could recall the stations and views R C Sherriff describes very clearly, which certainly brought the tale to life for me. I first came across R C Sherriff through reading his play "The Long Sunset", about the Roman abandonment of Britain in the 5th century AD, which although I haven't looked at since leaving school, still seems to be in my memory as a powerful piece of writing.

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