A masterclass from an ageless Jane Gardam

Gardam trilogy

Just when I think literature can’t get much better with writers, dead and alive, to read like William Trevor, Paul Bailey, J L Carr, Ronan Bennett, William Boyd, Graham Greene, Julian Barnes, Paul Bailey, Anthony Burgess et al than another one engages me and sails into the my pantheon of great authors.

I recently “celebrated” a significant birthday and I can’t say I was thrilled to realise just how old I’d become. Oh well. But I was cheered up when a package of books arrived from England, via Amazon, from my former public school Latin master John McCormick. Those of you who read my annual books lists will recognize the name.

Inside the package were three pristine paperbacks by Jane Gardam. I had previously only read one book by Gardam and that was God on the Rocks, which was nominated for the Booker Prize in 1978.

On further examination, the three books were a trilogy surrounding the life of Sir Edward Feathers, QC, known by his nickname Old Filth. (The Filth stands for Failed In London Try Hong Kong).

Hmmm, I thought, a novel about the life and times of the Raj Orphans encapsulating the glory years of the British Empire, the Second World War and the decline of Britain to today; a saga about young, bright things becoming old, dull shells. I’m not sure I’ll like this.

How wrong I was. From the first page I was hooked and I have devoured all three books in triple-quick time. I didn’t want them to end.

Old Filth is a masterpiece and the other two are close behind. Jane Gardam wrote this book in 2004 – she was about 76 then. The Man in the Wooden Hat was published in 2009 and Last Friends in 2013, when she was 85. Most novelists are written out or are producing sub-standard stuff in their eighties. Not her.

And why didn’t Old Filth win the Man Booker Prize? What? It wasn’t even nominated!

And Graham Greene didn’t win the Nobel Prize for Literature, which shows just how meaningless and silly these prizes are. And how riddled with jealousy and prejudice and resentment the so-called judges are.

Jane Gardam – I tip my wooden hat to you!

Musical Monday: Buddy Rich

Communication breakdown . . .

Broken computer. . .  it’s always the same, I’m having a nervous breakdown, drive me insane!

My computer gave up the ghost at the beginning of the week and I feared the worst. Hard drive knackered? I don’t know but it wouldn’t fire up.

My wife and I had resigned ourselves to getting a new computer – the current one is actually quite old.

But before that we took the poor old thing to some friends down the road who are computer wizards. Their son, who is studying in Switzerland and is a pal of my son, and is a computer maestro, happened to be home and said he’d take a look at it last night.

The family were all off to America today so we expected to hear about our computer when they returned home.

But no! He’d sorted out the problem, replaced a part and our computer is working again. Amazing. I’m now back in contact with the Internet and Facebook and Twitter and emails etc. Communication back on.

And a big merci beaucoup to Guillaume!


Musical Monday: Clutch

Phew, wot a scorcher!

ThermometerThe temperature in Paris today has soared to a sizzling 32 degrees Celsius, which is nearly 90 degrees in real money (Fahrenheit).

The Swedish astronomer Anders Celsius invented his temperature scale in the 18th century round about the same time as the German physicist Daniel Gabriel Fahrenheit was concocting his own system.

I have to say that Celsius is much easier to use, with freezing being at 0 degrees and boiling at 100 degrees. Danny boy set his scale at 32 for freezing and 212 for boiling. Not very logical.

And let’s not introduce into this mix the Kelvin system thought up by the Belfast-born physicist William Thompson, 1st Baron Kelvin.

The British are an odd lot because when the weather is very hot the newspapers use the Fahrenheit scale and headline with the temperature hitting the 90s, but if there’s a cold snap they revert to centigrade, informing us that the temperature has plummeted below 0°.

Whatever system one uses, it’s a hot one today and I was sweating during my morning walk in my eco-parc.

Musical Monday: Elkie Brooks

Look what I got for my birthday – dead good!

Walking Dead Season 3I got hooked on The Walking Dead TV series, starring Andrew Lincoln, after my daughter bought me the first season for Father’s Day. I wrote about that here.

I quickly devoured that and bought myself Season 2 from that nice man Mr. Amazon.

A few days ago I (sob, sob) watched the thirteenth and final episode.

But yesterday my wife surprised me with Season 3 – and there are 16 episodes. TV bliss or what.

Let the biting begin (again)!