Family “Crest”.

Delight this week.   Brother Peter’s new laser cutter and fabulous skills have transformed our whimsical wedding crest (Commando dagger, WRNS fouled anchor, crossed white canes and Anjou fleur de lis – drawn by professional illustrator nephew Toby into a finely finished plaque in wood appropriate for the forthcoming anniversary.   Peter’s skills working with oak know no bounds: get your own handcrafted MP-style duck house here, a massive dove-cot for the stable yard,  bird boxes more in proportion with real life, classic kitchen utensils and more.

Red pen for “The 39 Steps”?  Re-reading John Buchan’s between-wars adventures, I marvel that they haven’t received the same treatment as Miss Marple, Bond or Jeeves for their non-PC words.

But perhaps those at Penguin Random House have acknowledged that readers have the sense to set aside words, phrases and attitudes that jar on modern sensitivities.

Yes, Buchan’s reference to “the white man” is archaic and awful, his women knew their place and the appropriate body shape while the social demarcations are even stranger.   He talks with real affection for the wiry shepherd, admires his wisdom but has no time for “new” money compared with “the gentry and plain folk”.

But let’s allow today’s readers to recognise such writing for what it was: social structures and behaviour alien to us 100 years later.   His adventure yarns can still entertain but also reveal just how very far we have come.   Pity we’re not credited with the same sense when it comes to Christie, Fleming and Wodehouse.


© 2024 - Penny Melville-Brown
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