Back in the days of my yore (1979 according to the publishing notes) I purchased a beautiful little gem of a paperback book called ‘Life and Other Punctures’ by Eleanor Bron which has just fallen to hand because I am rooting through things in my office whilst I try to remember why I came in here. For those of you who do not know the name, Bron was at the vanguard of the satirical comedy wave of the 1960’s, with the likes of Peter Cook, John Bird and John Fortune, and a well known film actress to boot. Her book – the only thing of hers I have ever read – sits atop a pile of I really must read that again’s on a shelf behind my chair. It is a joy of a book, but the font (what I almost certainly, way back then, would have referred to as typeface) is tiny, sub-microdot, and the concentration required to read it immense. My particular copy (there may be others, I don’t know) is by Magnum Books (who were clearly finding paper difficult to come by, and sold I note, at a cost of 90p, which I think would have just about been enough for the deposit on a decent-sized bungalow in Torquay back then.
Whilst the manuscript is, perhaps, not particularly long (35,000 words at a rough estimate) neither is it unduly short, yet the book is itself unnecessarily Lilliputian and, bizarrely I find I can only read it when I take my glasses off. I regularly make the effort though because it is a thing of pure joy and I cannot recommend it highly enough. It has no plot as such (so one less thing for me to lose track of) and merely recounts a couple of solo bicycle trips through France and Holland on a Moulton bike (a peculiar, small-wheeled contraption designed with the sole aim of making riding in a straight line almost impossible) bedecked with baskets, equipped with the wrong clothes and only a single spare shoe.
Now, I do not want you to believe of me (although it is true) that I have difficulty in holding the finer nuances of plot and character development in my head when I am reading a book. Technically my recollection and understanding is second-to-none until I have to put the book down to make a cup of tea, smear on the sun cream or sleep (dependent on location) when things are apt to swim a little. It is no problem, a short recap of the page or two before my bookmark is all I need to get me back up to speed, providing, of course, that I have not lost track of a character along the way. The ‘hang on, who’s he?’ moments involved in the reading of Colin Dexter or Conan Doyle are sufficiently frequent to mean that my reading word-count is somewhat at a variance to the authors. I never see the clues, or at least if I do, I never remember them until the detective jumps to the wrong conclusion about them. I have the peculiar gift of remembering plot details as I re-read them, but to enjoy them as new none-the-less. Knowing that a joke is coming does not, for me, diminish my appreciation of the skill with which it has been delivered.
So, having sat for several minutes reacquainting myself with the inestimable Ms Bron, it was time for cake and coffee and a trip back down the stairs, during the course of which I remembered why I went up them in the first place. I remembered what I had done with the paper scrap containing the scribbled synopsis of the ‘great idea’. I had gone up there to retrieve – except that recalling what I had done with it did not, I discovered, allow me any insight into where I did it.
Ah well, I’m sure that all will become clearer in time…
4 thoughts on “Whodunnit – Or At Least Where It Was Done”
I haven’t read Bron but I will take your recommendation on it, She was a looming presence in ‘Help’ and a few other shows/movies at the time. I was half-distractedly watching- the only way to- an umpteemth recycling of ‘Dimsummer Mysteries’ and thought I recognised something in the tall wild-maned old lady on screen. And yes, apparently she was the onewhodunnit.
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Yes. Sadly I remember that too. The book is a really pleasant diversion. It won’t change your life, but it will definitely improve your afternoon.
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Had to go and look her up but then it was “Oh of course! I know her!” Then I looked up the book which is available but I have a pile of so many books to read before I die…not to mention the ones I really must re-read….How do we extend the hours of a day? I know they are only half as long as when I was a kid. Can’t wait till you find that bit of paper…
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So many books, so little time… 🧐. What piece of paper is that? 😉
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