Thursday, March 02, 2017

The Van Book

I have taken to keeping a book in the van to while away those odd minutes that I spend waiting for places to open, or people (Hannah) to finish work or whatever errand she is about. A van book has to be moderately entertaining and without importance. It must also already be in shabby condition as our van is no place for any decent tome. I mean, you should see this vehicle - it's a nest of dog hair, compost, mud and silage. When decent people travel with us we have to put down blankets to protect them from the grime.

My current van book is one I picked up in the Tesco charity book exchange, Spilling The Beans by the late Clarissa Dickson Wright and she does rather draw one in with her very first sentence,

I was conceived in a bath in Norfolk in September 1946.

Already we had something in common. Firstly, I too was conceived although probably not in a bath. I'm not sure we even had a bath. And it was County Antrim, definitely in a bed and shortly after the Rosary was recited. Secondly, I know and love Norfolk and even have a  Norfolkian grandson.

The book has been a slow read as there aren't that many van moments to kill. Dickson Wright is currently right bang in the middle of her alcoholic phase, drinking her way through 2.8 million quid. She is seeking out dark and sordid places, particularly the Irish pubs on the Kilburn High Road, where she picks up Republican sympathisers and teaches the benighted fools how English folk do sex. She even had the gall to boast that there are marriages in Ireland that will have benefitted from some country lad having learned more than the missionary position.

But the best bit? When the author claimed to have stored in her memory all the verses of 'When Rhodri Macaulay Goes to Die on the Bridge of Taum'. I do hope that wasn't our Eamon taught Dickson Wright that after a night at the Gaulty Boy Dance Hall on the Kilburn High Road. I don't know if I can read any more of it now for it's only page 149 and it cannot get any better than that. And has anyone even heard of the Gaulty Boy Dance Hall on the Kilburn High Road? I wonder did Clarissa mean the Galtymore Ballroom in Cricklewood. After all, she was very, very drunk at the time.

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