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IMG_0258Earlier this week I took a day off to do some pre-Christmas stuff, meeting a friend for lunch in Covent Garden and then meeting another friend (MargaRita, Queen of Speed, a friend of the Bride’s blog, previously mentioned here) for drinks at the splendid St Pancras Hotel. In between I spent a few hours around Piccadilly, mostly shopping but also finally getting round to doing something I’ve talked about in previous years – visiting the Chris Beetles Gallery to view their annual exhibition of illustration.

The Illustrators: The British Art of Illustration 1800-2014 is a feast for the eyes, exhibiting original works by many of the greats – Edmund Dulac, Arthur Rackham, Heath Robinson, Ronald Searle (those are just some of my favourites) – as well as artists less well known (at least to me). The walls are crammed with these wonderful pieces of art, all for sale. Sadly, much as I would have loved to I couldn’t quite put my hands on the £17,500 for Dulac’s Asenath from 1907, let alone the £250,000 for Rackham’s The Fairies Are Exquisite Dancers from Peter Pan (1906). A girl can dream though.

So I made do with a copy of the exhibition catalogue which is a beautiful thing in itself.

There was also a fantastic exhibition of Quentin Blake illustrations and some original drawings for Paddington, any of which would have looked very nice framed on my study wall.

A lovely way to spend a winter’s afternoon.

So where to begin? Let’s start with what it says on the back of the book:

For more than half a century Miss Hyacinthe Phypps has been offering guidance on proper behaviour. It is the publishers’ fondest hope that this book will serve the current generation of young ladies as it served their mothers.

The subtitle for TRDG (as it has become known in this house) is “The Right Thing to Say on Every Dubious Occasion” And all of the occasions covered here are distinctly dubious.

So, you are a young woman stepping over the threshold into adult womanhood, and you need to find something appropriate to say after the event. Miss Phypps has some remarkable suggestions depending on the location of your own particular threshold-stepping moment, some of them rather peculiar but all of them very funny.

At least I thought they were – let’s just say my reaction to this book was to dip in, giggle/snort with laughter depending, and then to read bits out to the Book God.

Of course the main attraction for me was the fact that this was illustrated by Edward Gorey, and the book does reflect the humour of the mid-1960s (originally published in 1965 and has been out of print for a long time) with the male characters tending to be crooners, marimba players and Chinese detectives amongst others, but I was very amused by it and still dip in occasionally when I need to be cheered up.

If you like your humour quaint, tongue in cheek and a little surreal then this might be for you.

Unless you are of a delicate disposition, of course.

Thanks to Bloomsbury for the free book.

literarylifeposysimmonds51154_f1So the first of the Christmas present reads has already been completed, and what good fun it was. I used to read Posy Simmonds’s cartoons in the women’s pages of The Guardian when I was a student, and I have several of her collections, as well as a number of her excellent children’s books, but this was a new one on me.

Literary Life is a collection of strips and other cartoons, again from The Guardian, with a focus on the literary world. There are very recognisable author types, the struggling independent bookshop and (my favourite) Ask Doctor Derek, where a number of common author ailments are dealt with (critical mauling being a good example). The book rounds off with a couple of really good Christmas stories – Murder at Matabele Mansions and a new version of Cinderella.

I love Posy Simmonds and this is a good addition to my collection; it had me giggling all through Boxing Day!

Bride of the Book God

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Scottish, in my fifties, love books but not always able to find the time to read them as much as I would like. I’m based in London and happily married to the Book God.

I also blog at Bride of the Screen God (all about movies and TV) and The Dowager Bride, if you are interested in ramblings about stuff of little consequence

If you would like to get in touch you can contact me at brideofthebookgod (at) btinternet (dot) com.

The Sunday



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June 2023