Windermere Railway Station ...      None of us were quite sure how it had happened. But there we were, stepping into a surprisingly nippy breeze at Windermere railway station, laden with large backpacks, ready for a fortnight’s strenuous walking in the Lake District. Well, I was ready: I was unsure about the others.
... Windermere Tourist Information Centre ...      As we left the railway station, Richard noticed the Tourist Information Centre on the left and with a “just a minute” in he nipped. I didn’t mind too much, as we had only a short walk to Troutbeck on that first afternoon, but I made a mental note to not allow too many stops and detours from my planned route in future. We followed him in.
... Orrest Head ...      We walked up the track to Orrest Head, which is renowned as an inspirational viewpoint over the Lakeland hills. We could not help but reflect that, if all went to plan, we would be walking over almost all the peaks we could see within the next fourteen days. The route I had planned would take us on a 180-mile circuit encompassing all the main peaks and all the best ridges. I did not emphasise the extent of the challenge to my companions, so as not to daunt them too much. But, if a challenge it was, we would see who the fittest was, although I had no doubt about that.
... Troutbeck ...      The day dawned overcast, threatening rain. As none of the locals would commit themselves as to whether the threat would materialise or not we gathered in the foyer prepared for the possibility. Unfortunately, we took some considerable time to gather. I hoped that my companions’ morning routines would become smoother with practice over the next few days, so that we could get underway more promptly.
... Garburn Road ...      I decided to be similarly forgiving of Harry. We strode energetically up the Garburn Road, leaving the caravans of Limefitt Park far below, with the ridge of Yoke, Ill Bell and Froswick visible ahead. And we were soon on the ridge, none of us daring to suggest a need to pause for sustenance. We pressed on nonstop, up and over the three peaks.
... Mardale Ill Bell ...      As we climbed the ridge from Froswick towards Thornthwaite, the others were irresistibly drawn to the large beacon, where crowds had gathered for their midday snacks. But they did not know the route: I did. I led them around to the right, to Mardale Ill Bell, where we found a fine perch above Blea Water for our own lunch. Thomas proudly introduced the lunch-time offerings, which had been distributed evenly among our backpacks. And, yes, I have to concede, he had done us proud, and, with the cloud having lifted, we amused ourselves searching, unsuccessfully, for the famous Riggindale golden eagle, and in spying upon the activities in the Mardale car-park.
... The Old Corpse Road ...      We followed the fence on to Selside and then began a trudge across a pathless, featureless ridge to Hare Shaw. When we reached the old corpse road, Thomas began a long story about it, as we sat there chewing some energy bars. To tell the truth, I think he strung the story out rather in order to give himself the maximum time to recover before the final stretch. I didn’t hurry him up, as I could see that they were all flagging a little and I didn’t want to seem too hard a taskmaster.
... Haweswater ...      Suitably refreshed and feeling rather fitter than poor Jim Ritchie, at least, we soon completed the last mile or two and dropped down to our haven for the night, the Haweswater Hotel, by the side of Haweswater. The lady at reception looked with some astonishment at Harry’s outfit and I thought for a moment that she wouldn’t allow him in. But we reassured her that we would make him change into more suitable clothes before we gathered in the bar.
... Mardale Green ...      Breakfast was subdued. We gradually remembered why. Somehow, during the previous evening and long night, we had joined the Friends of Mardale Green and had become embroiled in what passed for its Annual General Meeting.
... Thornthwaite Beacon ...      We strode south along High Street and in what seemed no time we reached Thornthwaite Beacon, which we had skirted past the day before. This time I allowed the team a rest and, as is his custom, Harry was soon on first-name terms with all the other walkers resting there, thankfully not as many as yesterday, which was a Sunday.
... Kirkstone ...      Harry said hearty cheerios to all his new-found friends and within five minutes had forgotten all about them. We scrambled down to Thresthwaite Mouth, with its frogs, and up to Caudale Moor. Here we searched for Mark Atkinson’s Monument and John Bell’s Banner (there is too much name-dropping in Cumbria). We found the former but not the latter. The ‘monument’ is just a pile of stones with a cross, a memorial to a landlord of the Kirkstone Inn, skilfully placed at the furthest point on the ridge from which he may keep an eye on his inn. We were at least reassured that our resting place for the night was not too far distant.
... Kirkstone ...      The day dawned overcast, with low cloud. At least, I assume it did, dawn being rather early for me at that time of year. Dedicated as I was to our walking expedition, I was supposed to be on holiday. There was certainly low cloud by the time we stood on the steps of the inn, ready to set forth. We could barely see the bottom of Red Screes, let alone its top, which was our first objective. As always seems to be the case when the top of a hill is in cloud, the steep slopes seemed to rise to prodigious, unseen, heights.
... Hart Crag ...      And so, deep in thought (if any, for the others), we clambered carefully over Red Screes, down to the Scandale Pass, over Bakestones Moss, on up by Dove Crag, past Hart Crag, down the dip of Link Hause, on towards ...
... Fairfield ...      I led the team up to Fairfield, where we paused for some sustenance by the largest cairn, whilst peering in stony silence into the gloom. After carefully locating the correct ridge I took them down the steep drop of Cofa Pike. As I strode over Deepdale Hause towards the ridge of St Sunday Crag the other three dropped behind and seemed to be engaged in some private conversation.
... Glenridding ...      But the end was in sight and so, in slightly raised spirits, we strolled down to Grisedale and over by Lanty’s Tarn to Glenridding. After signing in at our B&B we retreated to the Travellers Rest, where we sat outside to admire the renowned view across Ullswater to Place Fell. But the cloud had come down again and we could see nothing at all.
... Glenridding ...      After breakfast Thomas said that he needed to replenish stocks at the Glenridding shop, the first chance to do so since we had set off from Windermere. I asked if he needed any help but he insisted not, although the others stayed with him, reflecting perhaps some lingering resentment over the events of yesterday. I left them to it and ambled down to the pier, where the aimless splicing of mainbraces was oddly reassuring.
... Striding Edge ...      A gentle drizzle, soothing and refreshing, fell as we climbed Birkhouse Moor. We soon reached the Hole-in-the-Wall, for after a few days of good walking we were now well into our stride, with no handicaps other than Harry’s blisters, Richard’s sore knee and Thomas’s stomach pains.
... The Helvellyn Memorials ...      We ambled over to look at the memorials, which some consider to add a romantic air to the fells. One commemorates the death of Charles Gough in 1803 or, rather, the sentimental fact that his dog stayed by his side for three months until his body was found. We are supposed to be impressed and inspired by this.
... Threlkeld ...      We continued briskly on, up and over Whiteside Bank and Raise, and dropped down to Sticks Pass, so called because here those walking north from Helvellyn realise the uselessness of their sticks and throw them over the sides of the mountain. There they accumulate in great piles, to be rummaged through by skiers using the Raise ski tow and in need of extra ski sticks.
... Threlkeld ...      Over breakfast, I informed the team that today’s walk would be to Keswick, only four miles away. Thomas immediately asked for two more poached eggs. Richard said that it would be good to give his sore knee a bit of a rest. Harry wondered if we would be there in time for a relaxing trip on the Derwentwater ferry. I then added that we would not be walking direct to Keswick but would take a detour over Blencathra and Skiddaw, adding about ten miles and plenty of hills.
... Saddleback or Blencathra ...      Richard walked along studying the map intently. He suddenly stopped and said “The Ordnance Survey has got this wrong”. The Ordnance Survey never gets anything wrong but I thought that I had better humour him, as he was such a novice at map-reading. “Where?” I asked.
... Sharp Edge ...      Sharp Edge is not a place to be tackled in a temper. So we called him back to have a snack break, to let equilibrium be restored. When our balance had been regained, we set out for the fearsome ridge. We were just about on it when Thomas mumbled “Nobody has ever called me Tom”.
... Skiddaw House ...      The slightly soggy peat of Mungrisdale Common soon turned into deep boggy pools, submerging all traces of a path. We floundered along, in the downpour, heading for Skiddaw House, which was dimly perceivable ahead, where we hoped to find shelter from the cloudburst.
... Keswick ...      So Harry said his farewells and we trudged off up Sale How. The walk up Skiddaw and down to Keswick was a silent nightmare, silent, that is, apart from the rattling rain. Inevitably, they got lost a few times.
... Keswick ... ... Grisedale Pike ... ... Hopegill Head ... ... Grasmoor ... ... Braithwaite ... ... Braithwaite ... ... High Spy ... ... Buttermere ... These Boots Save Our Sausage Tak Hod: A Book for Offcomers Four Men in Their Boots You Don’t Need a Weatherman ... Plane Sailing on Windermere The Way We Were, with Silas Jessop The Fairy Fell Roundelay Mrs Mudderdale’s Diary (June 15) What Bare-Faced Cheek? Nature Notebook High Society Low Brow Opening Mrs Mudderdale’s Diary (August 13) How Pathétique Nun the Wiser The Tale of Squire Ruskin Hawkshead 3 Windermere 4 Pen Your Pimp The Duke of Westminster’s A to Z A Word’s Worth Note about the Photographs     © John Self, Drakkar Press
Four Men in Their Boots, Day 7
After the difficulties on Skiddaw, the maps had been left in my hands, without comment. Across the bridge we took a footpath through Portinscale and Ullock and on to Braithwaite, where we found the rather fine looking Coledale Inn. Harry had done well arranging our accommodation for the nights and here we seemed to have something a bit special, perhaps to mark our halfway point. I looked forward to returning for a good night’s rest, after our walk around the Coledale horseshoe. We jettisoned everything we didn’t need, which did not include our wind-proof walking gear, and set off brightly.
The storm and gale had brought a crystal clarity to the air. Looking back, we could see every detail of Skiddaw, none of which we had seen the day before. However, we didn’t look back much because we were inspired by the view ahead. Our route seemed laid out before us, no distance at all.
I pointed out the miles and miles of the Whinlatter Forest conifer plantations visible off to the right and also the ruins of Force Crag Mine, far below us to the left. This led to a protracted discussion about the origins and purpose of the forest and mine, the conclusion of which was that they must have been involved in the manufacture of the esteemed Cumberland Pencils, the lead or graphite from the mine being enclosed in wood from the forest.
This isn’t true but the others were so satisfied with their explanation that I was content to leave them with it. In fact, although lead was mined from Force Crag Mine in the 1800s the pencil-makers used graphite from Borrowdale. The mine functioned, on and off, until the 1990s. Today, the mine is owned by the National Trust, who are not enamoured of mines in the Lake District and will no doubt ensure that the mine stays off.
Most of what was said was lost in the wind, which whipped the words and much else besides over the mountain edge. “How the wind doth ramm!” floated into my mind, which, I remembered, is part of ‘Winter is Icumen In’:
Winter is icumen in,
Lhude sing Goddamm,
Raineth drop and staineth slop,
And how the wind doth ramm!
This is a parody of the 13th century English round ‘Sumer is Icumen In’ by the American poet Ezra Pound. Americans are proud of their liberty, and it is a liberty to mock our ancient songs just because they don’t have any, and to adopt our currency as a surname, too.
I began to sing the song, to the tune of the mice in Bagpuss, confident that nobody would hear me in the gale. Richard, however, noticed my lips moving and thought that I was speaking to him. I explained that I was singing a song appropriate to the conditions and, after persuasion, I sang it aloud to them all.
Given their interest, I tried to get them to join in the round, but they couldn’t get the hang of it at all. They seemed incapable of entering at the correct point, on the “Lhude”, and if I ever did get them all going together they tended to treat it as a race to the “Sing: Goddamm”.
After a while, I suspected that they were failing on purpose but, as they seemed to enjoy the ending so much, we settled on me singing the song and them all joining in loudly on the “Sing: Goddamm”. It was almost as if the Goddamm were directed at me. And so singing, we strode from Hopegill Head down past Eel Crag, the “Goddamm”s alarming a few nervous walkers.
I condescended to wait while they scrambled down the precipitous cliffs to retrieve them. After all, it was not my fault that they were foolish enough to lose them. Harry, ever the helpful colleague, opted to scramble down with them. I sat day-dreaming at the panorama for quite a while. I forgot all about them but after about forty-five minutes I began to be a little concerned that they hadn’t re-appeared. I tentatively peered over the edge of the crags, fearing being blown over myself, but they were nowhere to be seen.
I became quite worried and began to think about calling out the Mountain Rescue Service, for the three of them were not really equipped for rock-climbing. And then I saw them, far off to the right, on the slopes of Grasmoor, having emerged from the crags much further east than where they went down. I walked fast to catch them up. They blithely explained that they had taken a short-cut on the crags in order to catch me up on Crag Hill. I had distinctly said that I would wait for them at the Grasmoor cairn and I am not used to my instructions being misunderstood. I was quite miffed but the other three seemed in even better spirits than they were as we strolled along the long ridge to and over Causey Pike.
After a long wrangle with the manager, it was eventually agreed that I would have a room with a double bed and the other three would share the other room, into which an extra bed would be moved. So that was satisfactorily resolved and, after a fulsome meal, I departed from the others to enjoy the restful night that I had looked forward to all day.
Photos: The Cumberland Pencil Museum; The view as I waited on Grasmoor.
The Tale of Squire Ruskin
Little Johnnie Ruskin was always little when he was little. But he
had big ideas. When his parents brought him to the Lakes for a
holiday at the age of eleven he didn’t just say thank you: he wrote a
poem of over two thousand lines to do so.
His father had big ideas for little Johnnie too. More importantly, he also had a lot of money, which he had earned by selling alcohol. He sent little Johnnie to the best universities, although Johnnie didn’t feel the need to do much studying there.
As he grew bigger, little Johnnie didn’t know what to do, he was so good at everything. But his father was rich enough that he didn’t really need to do anything anyway. So he went on a few tours. He met lots of famous people, who all said “Who are you?”. When he got back he resolved to become famous too.
He liked to paint, but his paintings weren’t particularly good. He liked to write, but to begin with he was too shy to put his own name on what he had written. He liked little girls, but they didn’t like him. But most of all he liked to tell other people what to like.
He began by telling people what buildings they should like. And then what paintings they should like. He said that the old masters such as Michelangelo were too old: youngsters like Joe Turner were much better. Joe’s paintings were so vague that ordinary people couldn’t see that they were good.
As he became famous, he married Miss Effie. But they were never close, and they became even less close when she ran off with one of his friends.
This upset him. He began to tell people what paintings they should not like. But some painters didn’t like it when he told people not to like their paintings. Jimmy Whistler, a butterfly artist from over the pond, even took him to court. So he gave up art. Instead, he began to tell people how to live.
This was much more difficult. After all, he hardly knew how to live himself. He liked to spend all day looking at lichens. So he said that they shouldn’t make poor people work in dirty factories: they should be able to look at lichens all day too. Unfortunately, poor people didn’t really want to look at lichens much: they preferred to drink alcohol, like his father sold.
He wrote lots of letters, which he called Fors Clavigera, to the poor people. We, who have studied Greek, know exactly what he meant. But the poor people threw the letters in the bin.
Johnnie became even more fed up. So, to cheer himself up, he bought a nice, big house overlooking a lake. He was a bit lonely but he liked to look out of his windows at a beautiful scene not spoiled by any of those poor people that he tried to help.
People asked who lived in the big house on the hill. They were told “The squire, Ruskin”. Some people wondered what rusking involved.
He made up a word ‘illth’ to mean ill-being, the opposite of well-being, and he began to suffer more and more from it. Eventually he died, as even good people like Squire Ruskin must do. But his ideas, whatever they were, live on. They have influenced many important people, including Leo Tolstoy, Marcel Proust, Mahatma Gandhi, Nelson Mandela and John Prescott.
Photos:  The view from Squire Ruskin's house; Squire Ruskin, his valet and his dog.
Hawkshead 3 Windermere 4
The Hawks were desperately unlucky to lose an action-packed
seven-goal thriller at the rain-soaked Gillie Ground, after the
man in black failed to spot a blatant infringement in the dying
seconds by the Wanderers’ custodian. Three times the brave Hawks
had fought back to parity with the table-toppers, only to succumb
to a late own goal.
Manager Harry Hopkins said “I’m proud of all the lads. I couldn’t ask for any more. They worked their socks off. We’ll take the positives and move on to the next match”.
The game kicked off with the rain and wind blasting down Langdale ...
Sorry to interrupt your flow, but doesn’t this belong on the sports pages?
What of it? I’ve infiltrated all the other sections of this paper before. I’ve written reports on weddings, funerals, concerts and fights outside the Harassed Herdwick; I’ve contributed recipes, horoscopes, letters to the editor, advertisements and weather reports. Our readers, deficient in gorm, cannot tell the difference. Or perhaps they find that my efforts provide more entertainment for their fifty pence than the real thing.
Yes, but we don’t want to waste your unique talents on football reports. Anybody can write that stuff.
This is not a football report. I am making an attempt on the world record for clichés, currently held by Barry Bollinger of the Daily Mirror, who recorded 27.3 clichés per 100 words on the Germany 1 England 5 game. I have a theory that clichés are better for more mundane games, and you can’t get more mundane than Hawkshead versus Windermere.
I see. Let us pray proceed.
A bright opening from the Hawks forced the promotion favourites onto the back foot, before a breakaway goal on the half-hour silenced the Hawks’ faithful supporters. The Hawks responded immediately when Nobby Drummond nodded home unmarked, with the Wanderers defence appealing vainly for off-side ...
Photo:  Hawkshead Athletic football team.
Pen Your Pimp: Another Book for Offcomers
Pen Your Pimp, by Tom Bumfit (Strudelgate Press, £14.99), 235 pages
with 15 intricate pen-and-ink drawings. There is also a Pen Your
Pimp DVD (£14.99), showing all the manoeuvres in detail, with
commentary by Tom Bumfit.
Offcomers may be excessively excited by this title. In the Cumbrian dialect, pimp is five (in the Keswick version: yan, tyan, tethera, methera, pimp, ... ) when shepherds count their sheep. And five sheep is the usual number penned in Cumbrian sheep-dog trials. So, Pen Your Pimp is a description of the traditional Cumbrian sport of sheep-dog trialling. This book presents all the rules and techniques of trialling but the majority of readers will enjoy most the anecdotes through which Tom Bumfit enlivens the text.
There was, for example, the controversial occasion when several sheep-dogs were disqualified from the National Championships for being colour-prejudiced. They had been trained only with white sheep. If, in the competition, the dogs were presented with five sheep one of whom happened to be black then they were flummoxed. They sometimes penned only the four white sheep and left the black sheep out. The judges realised that this would not look good on One Man and His Dog and promptly banned the dogs. The dog owners duly objected, arguing that there was nothing in the rules to stop them insisting on only white sheep. The judges banned them too for being colour-prejudiced.
In another chapter, Bumfit explains whistling techniques via the story of the ventriloquial whistler who disrupted many trials in the 1970s. Several sheep-dogs, not to mention their handlers, became permanently depressed as a result of the antics of the ventriloquial whistler. He was only identified in 1978 after a detailed statistical analysis of the results of the previous decade. It was realised that the culprit could not ventriloquially whistle his own dog and that he would probably resort to this practice only after an unsuccessful run of his own. He was hounded out of Cumbria.
The Duke of Westminster’s A to Z
When the dear 6th Duke of Westminster sadly departed from us he left his estate
and title to Hugh, the 7th Duke of Westminster. As the latter was a mere stripling of 25 the 6th Duke also left
an A to Z of advice on how to cope with unwanted and unwarranted celebrity and wealth. Here it is:
A is for Aunt Miriam, whom you have never met because she has been incarcerated in the east wing since she set fire to Harold Macmillan’s trousers after he rejected her advances in the summer of 1962. Poor Harold never recovered from this incident. He was still rather off-kilter when in the notorious ‘Night of the Long Knives’ he decapitated seven members of Cabinet.
B is for boots. It is jolly muddy around our little country house at Abbeystead. Since you have infinite wealth buy the best boots there are. I recommend Le Chameau’s Jameson Unisex Standard at £385. You buy one and get one free. Jolly generous. I’ve said ‘unisex’ because I’m not sure of your inclinations in that direction. We never did have that chat. Sorry.
C is for charities. You will need to be patron of a few hundred of them, to show your commitment to society, whatever that is. I used to enjoy the board meetings of the Society for the Preservation of English Real Men, which aims to stick up for men in our increasingly female-dominated world. The japes we got up to! But it may not be your kind of thing?
D is for Daniel Snow, who is one of your brothers-in-law. He’s in television, which is something ordinary people look at. If he turns up with cameras and what-not turf him out. People have no business looking at what we do here.
E is for Eaton Hall, our home in Cheshire. It is jolly big. You'll need to get more familiar with it than I managed. Staff hide away. One girl had a five months holiday there. I eventually found her wandering in the old stables, where she said that she had become lost and was living on a diet of mice and hay. Unfortunately, the wretch was unable to resume her duties, which involved the daily combing of the Duchess’s wigs.
F is for fishing, an activity for the real English gentlemen. Your great-great-grandfather Arthur – known to all as Bendor or ‘bend or’ or azure, a reference to the family armorials lost in the famous case of Scrope v Grosvenor heard before the Court of Chivalry in 1389 – was a jolly good fisherman. They say that in his old age, as he spent more and more time standing in the river, he took on the characteristics of his beloved fish. But not sufficiently so, for he drowned whilst grappling with a large trout. Even so, after his partial cremation he was considered to be delicious.
G is for George, of whom you are the godfather. I need hardly say that it is your duty to inculcate in him the habits of the English gentleman (his parents will be much too busy explaining the complexities of royal life). In particular, the sooner he is given a gun to shoot grouse the better. If he should inadvertently dispose of some of the lesser members of the royal family then I am sure that his parents wouldn’t mind.
H is for Horse and Hound, my complimentary subscription to which should pass on to you. It has been in the family since the magazine began in 1884. It is nearly all about horses nowadays, with little about hounds – although there are jolly interesting pieces about fox-hunting from time to time. Essential reading. My dear wife is a close friend of the editor, Lady Levershoome. They were at Eton together. The teachers never noticed them but the boys did.
I is for inheritance, which is all yours. If your elder sisters should come knocking asking for fair shares then tell them that fairness has nothing to do with it. That equality nonsense does not apply to dukedoms, and it never will as long as esteemed eminences such as our dear friends Jacob Rees-Mogg and Lord Dallyrymple have a say in the matter.
J is for je ne sais quoi. We superior men have that indefinable quality that raises us above lesser men. As with a balloon, it is better not to try to pin it down.
K is for knickerbockers. I leave you four wardrobes full of knickerbockers. They were my favourite garments for the lower limbs until they unaccountably fell out of fashion, the garments, that is, not my limbs. I tried to make knickerbocker glories with them but with only modest success. If you cannot find a use for them take them along to the next golf club jumble sale.
L is for Loelia Ponsonby, the most exotic leaf on the family tree. She was the third wife of the second Duke, but the marriage, despite getting off to a flying start with Winston Churchill as best man, was described as “a definition of unadulterated hell” by James Lees-Milne (whoever he was). After her divorce, Loelia became a needlewoman and magazine editor. She sewed every copy herself. She is known for saying “Anybody seen in a bus over the age of 30 has been a failure in life” – but what the age of the bus has to do with it, I don’t know.
M is for marriage, which I am sorry to say you must contemplate if only to perpetuate the dukedom in the traditional manner. The only advice I can give is to avoid anyone called Loelia, if such a person exists.
N is for nodding acquaintance, on which you must be with all you see about the estate. A nod is enough. It shows that you have acknowledged their existence, which is all they need to lighten their dreary lives. On no account address anyone by name. It is impossible to remember them all and mistakes can cause untold misery. I was once mangling with a young maid in the laundry and at a sensitive moment moaned “Oh, Joan”, causing Jean to storm off leaving my underwear unmangled.
O is for Ouija board. You will find mine in the twelfth bedroom. It has been a great comfort to me, to be able in times of stress to seek advice from my forebears. If you ever think I can help please get in touch.
P is for parsimony. Look after the pennies and the billions will look after themselves, my granny used to say. Ordinary people know that we are jolly rich but they don’t like us to flaunt it. It is better not to offer to pay for anything if you are ever in the unlikely situation that a payment is required. Ordinary people are, I find, extraordinarily grateful for the opportunity to show that they are momentarily on a par with us.
Q is for queue. This is probably something that you will never encounter yourself but you may be puzzled by the behaviour of ordinary people. It seems that when they want something that is not immediately available they stand behind someone who has already wanted it. Very strange! Once, when I lost my valet at Covent Garden, I had to stand in a queue for the lavatory. The unaccustomed delay led to an unfortunate accident. On balance, though, sitting in the foyer in wet knickerbockers was preferable to sitting through the third act of Gotterdammerung.
R is for rattlesnake. I trust that you will look after my pet rattlesnake. I found it great company on those dreadful occasions when we were visited by people from something called Natural England. They go on and on about things we’re not supposed to kill on the estate. What do they think an estate is for? However, they were always charmed by the rattlesnake. Once it escaped during luncheon and the Minister for the Environment nearly stuck her fork in it, which would have been the end of her, and no bad thing too.
S is for shooting stick. I have been given many of these but I haven’t managed to shoot anything with any of them.
T is for tweed, essential wear for all occasions, even, or especially, in bed. My father, who was one of identical twins, was known as Tweedledee because he was not dum, unlike his twin sister.
U is for upper crust. Someone who was ushered off the moor at gun-point shouted at me that I was a member of the ‘upper crust’. I asked our chief cook what on earth that meant. He said that it’s better than being a member of the lower crust or even the side crust. Since then I have never dared to eat the crust of any loaf.
V is for virtus non stemma, the family motto. As you know, it means ‘virtue not pedigree’. Whichever of our ancestors devised this motto may have had a great sense of irony but it is best to assume that he just got his Latin back to front.
W is for Westminster, where we have a palace and 650 specially appointed people to work on our behalf. However, some of these are distressingly independent-minded. The like-minded ones, however, are always jolly good company for a chin-wag and a touch of venison.
X is for xenodochium. This is the room in the servants’ quarters at Abbeystead where we quarantine any strangers found wandering on the estate. They keep saying they have a right to roam, whatever that is. The ones with binoculars are particularly shifty. Our head groundsman returns them to Preston Lost Property Office on the first Monday of the month.
Y is for yesterday, my favourite day.
Z is for sleep, of which we deserve plenty. The third Duke was a great sleeper. He usually needed eight hours sleep a day, and nine hours a night. He fell asleep on the eve of the war in 1914. He awoke eight days later, a couple of hours before his funeral. The Duchess thought of the many great and good people who had travelled far for the occasion despite the sombre national mood and decided not to disappoint them because of a technicality.
Four Men in Their Boots, Day 8
“Is the potted char available today?”
“Yes, indeed, and delicious it is.”
“Is it local char?”
“Oh, yes, everything on the menu is local if it is possible to be so.”
“How do you mean, sir?”
“Well, I assume the char comes from some lake. Do you know which one?”
“Er, no. I don’t think so. Does it matter?”
“It matters to me.”
“Well, in that case I think I’d better get the manager. Please excuse me.”
I interrupted before he dashed off. “Before you go, could I say what I would like. We’re a little behind schedule. I’d like the potted char, followed by the full English, with black pudding and mushrooms, with coffee, black.”
“And the same for me” said Richard. “And me” added Harry.
After five minutes, the manager came to our table. “How may I help you?” he beamed.
“Well, I’m interested in your potted char” said Tom. “I’d like to know where it comes from.”
“It comes from Jim Sproke’s Furness Fish Supplies. And Jim supplies only the best fish. You may rest assured of that.”
“No, no. Which lake does the char come from?”
“Oh, I see. I’m afraid I don’t know. Does it matter?”
“It matters to me.”
“Well, in that case I’d better ring Jim Sproke. Please excuse me.”
The three of us polished off our potted char. “Delicious” we agreed.
After ten minutes, the manager returned. “Jim says that the char comes from Windermere. I trust that is satisfactory, sir.”
“It may be satisfactory for Jim, and for you, and for these three. But what about the char?”
“What about them?”
“Aren’t you aware that the char were trapped in Windermere at the end of the last Ice Age and it is one of England’s rarest fish? And it is becoming rarer still through being caught and fed to ignorant buffoons like these three.” We tucked into our black pudding.
“No, I wasn’t aware of that” said the manager.
“Well, you should be. It should be an offence to serve endangered species as food. I suggest that you return the char to Windermere, where they belong.”
“But they’re dead, sir. In pots.”
“Well, return them to Jim and tell him where to stick them. It’s a disgrace.” And he stormed off without having any breakfast, especially not the potted char.
I think the strenuous exercise was beginning to affect the emotions. Tantrums from Richard on Blencathra, sentimentality from Harry on Grisedale Pike, and now this. At least I remained in full command.
Half-an-hour later we gathered on the steps of the inn, with fully-loaded rucksacks. I thought it best to try to clear the air. “What was that all about, Tom” I said.
“Thomas to you” he said.
“OK. Thomas. What’s the problem?”
“Well, I’m as fond of good food as anyone, but we should all be aware of what we are eating. Char should not be eaten. And if you knew what was in that black pudding you wouldn’t eat that either.”
I preferred not to know, so we set off, at last, from Braithwaite.
My companions, inspired by the name of High Spy, began - would you believe it? - a game of I Spy. The childishness of grown men never ceases to amaze me. Here we were, perched on one of the finest viewpoints of the central fells, and all they were interested in was I Spy. I ignored them. But after Harry had stumped them for 10 minutes with ‘L’ I thought it was time to move on. L, it transpired, was for Helvellyn. I suspect Harry really thought it was.
As we set off, I said “I’ve got one for you .. I spy with my little eye something beginning with A”. I knew that would distract them while we dropped down to the tarn and then clambered up the steep slopes to the top of Dale Head. As we strode along Hindscarth Edge, I thought I’d put them out of their misery. “Give up?” I said. “OK, A is for Aystacks”.
They groaned, in not too friendly a fashion, I felt. Then after a few minutes deep thought Richard said “I don’t believe you could spy Haystacks back there on High Spy”.
“Would you like us to go back and check?” I said.
Of course, he didn’t. You can’t, in fact, see Haystacks from High Spy but I knew that they wouldn’t think of Haystacks anyway. They reacted as though I had violated the spirit of the game. How childish can you get?
If, like me, you avidly study the descriptions of great expeditions to, say, the North Pole or into the jungles of Africa, you will know that there is one thing that is left undiscussed. That is clothing. It goes without saying that the great explorers travelled for months on end without a change of clothes.
Harry, as was becoming increasingly clear, was following the same policy. Richard, on the other hand, thoroughly washed his one set of clothes every night. Some mornings they were still wet as we set off, which may explain his grumpiness. Thomas had brought sufficient clothes that he could change them regularly, but that meant that he was carrying twice the load of the rest of us.
With my superior insight into such matters, I realised that, unlike the Arctic or the African jungles, the Lake District is not isolated from our wonderful Post Office. So, beforehand, I had parcelled to myself at the Fish Hotel a complete change of clothes for the rest of our walk. I spent a pleasant evening parcelling up my dirty clothes to send home whilst the others scrubbed the mud of Buttermere Moss off theirs.
Photos:  Potted Char and Other Delicacies; Derwent Water from the slopes of Catbells; The view from my window at the Fish Hotel.
A Word’s Worth
I don’t mind if I do. Thank you, Ernest.
Ernest Ackland (Privy Councillor, Master of the Toilet Rolls): Jack, my good man, top us up if you would be so kind.
Major Dalbeigh-Smythe:   Now, Ernest, do you know that railway over Ravenglass way?
Ernest Ackland:   Yes, I believe so. I took my grandson there last summer.
Major Dalbeigh-Smythe:   Do you remember the name?
Ernest Ackland:   Joseph, Joshua, something like that.
Major Dalbeigh-Smythe:   No, not the lad. The train.
Ernest Ackland:   Oh. Ah. Something a bit rum. Real Tatty. Something like that.
Major Dalbeigh-Smythe:   Jack will know. He’s lived here all his life. Jack, what do you call that railway over at Ravenglass?
Jack (barman of the Crowing Cockerel):   La’al Ratty.
Major Dalbeigh-Smythe:   Could you spell that please?
Jack:   L A A L and R A T T Y.
Major Dalbeigh-Smythe:   You sure about that?
Jack:   No, not really. We say the words. We don’t need to spell ’em.
Major Dalbeigh-Smythe:   Could there be an apostrophe in laal? L A apostrophe A L?
Jack:   Could be. Yes, now you mention it, yes, I think there is.
Ernest Ackland:   If there’s an apostrophe it must stand for something left out. What could that possibly be?
Major Dalbeigh-Smythe:   ckadaisic perhaps. Anyway, it doesn’t matter, as long as there’s an apostrophe. And you think there is, Jack?
Jack:   Yep, think so.
Major Dalbeigh-Smythe:   Splendid! Serve the bounder right!
Ernest Ackland:   What are you talking about, George?
Major Dalbeigh-Smythe:   Well, you know my good woman runs the guest house. I told her when I retired up here that if she wanted a guest house to keep herself amused then it would be entirely up to her. I’d help spread some bonhomie in the bar but apart from that I haven’t got the time for that sort of people.
Ernest Ackland:   Quite right too.
Major Dalbeigh-Smythe:   To tell the truth, I don’t know how she manages to pass the time: a spot of cooking, a bit of cleaning, a smidgin of finances, a smattering of general repairs. I left her up on the roof this morning. Anyway, it gives her a purpose in life.
Ernest Ackland:   Yes, that’s always important for a woman.
Major Dalbeigh-Smythe:   But sometimes, when I get back at night, she looks quite fatigued, as attractive as soldiers’ pants after a long march. I don’t impose upon her on such occasions, and I’m sure she appreciates that.
Ernest Ackland:   I know what you mean.
Major Dalbeigh-Smythe:   Unfortunately, she has bright ideas from time to time. She thought ‘themed weeks’ were the current fashion and so for last week she organised a ‘Scrabble Week’.
Ernest Ackland:   I wouldn’t have thought that would appeal much.
Major Dalbeigh-Smythe:   You’d be surprised. I asked them in the bar and they said that they normally come to the Lakes with the intention of taking lots of invigorating walks but it always rains so much that they end up playing lots of scrabble. So this time they reckoned that if they came intending to play lots of scrabble then it would be fine and sunny so they could go on lots of invigorating walks.
Ernest Ackland:   And was it?
Major Dalbeigh-Smythe:   No. Anyway, having had the bright idea, my good woman then considered that she is too busy doing whatever she does all day so she asked me to be referee. Well, if I say so myself, my military bearing rather suits the role of referee, so I agreed as long as I could referee in the bar and await any disputes, which I didn’t expect as most of them were dear old ladies.
Ernest Ackland:   I bet they were fierce scrabblers, though.
Major Dalbeigh-Smythe:   Well, yes. Vicious. And then my good woman had another bright idea: to add a little local flavour to the event, she defined a Cumbrian variant, by adding a rule that any word of the Cumbrian dialect would score quadruple points. Now, a chap called Seamus Donnybrook wasn’t happy with this ...
Ernest Ackland:   Donnybrook? Wasn’t he the fellow we had to have evicted from the golf course?
Major Dalbeigh-Smythe:   The very same. He got more and more annoyed at all these sweet biddies getting extra points for ‘snig’, ‘radge’, ‘glisky’, and so on. I had to leave the bar to see what all the kerfuffle was about. We generously allowed him Irish words such as ‘colcannon’ and ‘hooley’ provided they were in our dictionary, but of course he didn’t get quadruple points for them. Suddenly, he jumped up, shouting “Got you, you cheating witches: laal - four, triple word, quadrupled, 48 points. Stuff that in your cauldrons”.
Ernest Ackland:   Ah.
Major Dalbeigh-Smythe:   Well, dear Marjorie Primps quietly said “Rule 8 - no words with apostrophes”. You should have heard him. His words may be in the dictionary but I don’t think you’d dare use them at scrabble with these dear ladies. Now, I had no idea if laal had an apostrophe or not, but I didn’t like the cut of his jib, so I turfed him out.
Ernest Ackland:   Not before time, from the sound of it.
Major Dalbeigh-Smythe:   Top up, Ernest?
Ernest Ackland:   I don’t mind if I do.
Photo:  The staff at Ravenglass railway station.
More Rambles to be slotted in here ...
Appendix: Notes on the Rainy Day Rambles Manuscript
The Rainy Day Rambles (RDR) manuscript is best appreciated
from afar - from as far afar as possible, in fact. Wainwright, in
his little books, drew views from what he called “imaginary ‘space
stations’” that used “deliberate distortion in order to show detail
clearly”. We need something similar here.
So I am sat here in my study in 2115, a vantage point that
provides a clearer perspective. Whereas the author of RDR (Arthur)
muddled the past, the present and the future, from where I sit it is
all in the past.
The interpretation of RDR is complicated by the fact that the Lake District underwent a turbulent transition in the 21st century, a transition accelerated by the Great Energy Crisis of the 2060s. It is hard to believe today, now that the emergency measures introduced then have been fully absorbed into our lifestyle, but at the turn of the millennium almost all adults owned a car, that is, a mode of transport which enabled them to travel wherever they wished, with no reason needing to be given to the authorities!
The Prohibition of Public Travel Act of 2066 decreed that no journey of greater than ten kilometres could be undertaken (except by foot, horse or bicycle) without permission and without paying a considerable fee to hire a Government Taxi. The so-called tourists, to which RDR refers, disappeared from the Lake District, completing the trend of the previous decades during which the price of fuel had continued to rise.
Another fact that we find incredible today is that a hundred years ago almost nobody grew any of their own food! For example, their apples came from New Zealand rather than their own garden! At that time the Lake District provided a diet of mutton, damsons, a few char and not much else. The Emergency Coalition Government of 2068 determined that all areas must be self-sufficient in food. Each local council had to ensure that everybody could obtain all the food they needed by walking, riding or cycling to where it was produced.
These draconian measures did, of course, also cause problems. For example, the prohibition on travel meant that the Lake District population was frozen with those who happened to be resident in 2066. Since nearly all the women had moved there on their or their partner’s retirement and were therefore beyond child-bearing age, the population rapidly declined. The subsequent Repatriation Act of 2089 allowed individuals of Cumbrian descent bred in captivity elsewhere to return to re-populate Cumbria.
Overall, then, in order to interpret RDR today we must put aside our familiar sedentary, market-gardening existence and imagine a Lake District where millions of people visited on a whim and where almost everything was geared towards providing them with something to do when they were there. The following notes may help. Or they may not.
The photograph is by George Abraham. The fact that there is no indication of any permission to use the photographs in RDR rather confirms the theory that it was written for self-amusement not publication. (Please see the ‘Note about the Photographs’ at the end.)
‘Peter Blunt’ could be a mis-reading of Pete Bland, once a running specialist shoe shop in Kendal.
Wainwright’s ashes were scattered on Haystacks, an act that the Health and Safety Ministry has since made illegal.
Arthur is a little confused about the ‘butterfly artist’. The American-born artist James Whistler (1834-1903) used a stylised butterfly as a signature for his paintings. Of no account today, Whistler was a respected painter in the 19th century. His case against Ruskin was a cause célèbre in 1877. Whistler won the case but was awarded only a farthing (0.1p) in damages.
The photograph of Ruskin was taken by George Abraham. Where to is not known. It is also not known whether the ‘his’ in ‘his dog’ refers to Ruskin or the valet.
See the note above regarding the muddle with the photographs. Railway historians assure us that the previous photograph is in Ulverston, not Ravenglass, railway station.
If any photographer should encounter a photograph of their own here and should object to its use within this frivolous document (and might indeed intend to sue for violation of copyright) please let Arthur know. Failing that, please let me know, at email@example.com. If you’d like the photograph removed then I will, after gently pointing out that you really shouldn’t have left your photograph lying around for a scoundrel like Arthur to get his hands on, of course reluctantly do so.
If, as seems much more likely, you feel privileged and honoured to have been allowed to contribute to this fine document and would like to see your contribution suitably acknowledged then, again, please let me know and I will add a list of esteemed contributing photographers right here:
The rest of Rainy Day Rambles will follow in due course.
... Keswick ...      By the morning a gale had blown the rain away. But we were left with the wind ... and what a wind it was! We were buffeted about as we walked through the streets of Keswick and could hardly imagine what it would be like on the fell tops. We passed the world famous Cumberland Pencil Museum, struggling hard to resist the attractions of the World’s Longest Pencil, 7.91 metres, to be exact.
... Grisedale Pike ...      As we battled our way up to Grisedale Pike, Harry began waxing lyrical, as all waxing is, about the wonders of the natural world. He seemed on the verge of becoming overcome with emotion. Now I have as much appreciation of the natural world as the next person but it seems unmanly to me to get over-emotional about it. I blame those poets, again. So, in order to restore a proper perspective, I began to focus on the unnatural elements of the scene.
... Hopegill Head ...      We walked on past Grisedale Pike to Hopegill Head, keeping well clear of the edge to avoid being blown over Hobcarton Crags. I began to notice the number of people who shouted a “Hi Harry” to Harry. His purple-pink outfit made him easily recognisable but I was surprised that, even with his exceptional affability, he had managed to get on first-name terms with quite so many people during our walk. Some even added “Keep going, Harry, you’ll make it” or “Hope the blisters aren’t too bad, Harry” as though they were fully familiar with the nature of his expedition.
... Grasmoor ...      With the team in good spirits, I mentioned the detour that I had planned to Grasmoor and, with no-one daring to decline, we struggled up the long grassy slopes against the ferocious gale. At the top, we stood, braced against the wind, to survey the scene, with our imminent challenges of Pillar, Scafell and Bowfell arrayed to the south. We turned, prepared to be blown back down Grasmoor, only to find that the backpacks of Tom and Richard were no longer with us. They had put them down at the summit cairn and, being much lighter than on previous days, they had been whisked by the wind over Dove Crags.
... Braithwaite ...      On our return to the inn, there was an embarrassing incident with the receptionist. There had, it appears, been some misunderstanding as a result of Harry having asked for two doubles. She had thought he was referring to beds rather than rooms, a perhaps reasonable inference in this day and age. I, however, would not countenance the former.
... Braithwaite ...      I came down to breakfast in my normal timely fashion and waited for the others. They arrived half an hour late, dishevelled and argumentative. I dared not ask if they’d had a good night. Tom glared at the breakfast menu and immediately confronted the waiter.
... High Spy ...      We made our way across Newlands Beck and soon reached the slopes of Catbells. We paused briefly at the top so that we could admire the view over Derwent Water whilst Harry chatted to all the grandmothers and infants that Wainwright promised. We hadn’t time to dally so I hurried the team on down to Hause Gate and up to Maiden Moor, the top of which we passed over without being quite sure where it was. It didn’t matter, as we pressed on to High Spy, where I permitted a refreshment break. I sat there admiring the view of peaks we’d already conquered such as Helvellyn, Skiddaw and Grasmoor, and, ahead, the dome of Great Gable, with Scafell and Scafell Pike to its left. The highest peaks of our expedition were well and truly in my sights now.
... Buttermere ...      Despite an air of mutiny, we detoured slightly to the peaks of Hindscarth and Robinson. One has a duty, I feel, to visit all the tops that one passes near by, although my companions didn’t seem to agree. They said that they preferred to walk in a direct line. So I marched them all straight through the bog of Buttermere Moss, on the slope from Robinson to our hotel in Buttermere. They complained bitterly as our boots filled with mud but it didn’t concern me in the slightest. Because I anticipated that a large parcel awaited me at the Fish Hotel.
These Boots      Scholars cannot agree whether the photograph in Wastwater Hotel shows some of Arthur’s boots, or whether some of these boots are Arthur’s, or both (see JoCH, 155, 44-57, 2106). There are more than twenty boots shown but of course Arthur may have bought boots other than at These Boots ....
Save Our Sausage      The Bureaucratiat eventually decreed that the sausage may only be made in Cumbria. Unfortunately, Cumbria also includes parts of old Westmorland and Lancashire. Cumbrian butchers in old Cumberland appealed to the European Supreme Court to prohibit butchers in the non-Cumberland parts of Cumbria from making Cumberland sausages. The outcome is still awaited.
Tak Hod: A Book for Offcomers      The photograph of synchronised wrestlers was taken by William Baldry. Cumbrian wrestlers were a favourite subject for pioneering photographers because their stances, often maintained for hours, were ideal for the long exposures that the first cameras required.
Four Men in Their Boots      Controversy rages over whether the Four Men saga is by the same author as the rest of the RDR manuscript. The recent application of psycho-authorial analytic techniques (JoCH, 158, 1-33, 2109) has suggested that the ‘Four Men’ author has a personality disorder not shown in the other documents. The majority view, however, is that this is simply Arthur relaxing, revealing his natural self whilst reminiscing about an actual expedition. It is, no doubt, an entirely factual account, unlike most of the other items, where there is sometimes a suspicion of exaggeration. Since the narrative is truthful there is little to add to the events that befell the four men. However, Arthur’s status as a self-proclaimed route-planning expert has come into doubt after the discovery that the route is but a minor variation on that presented in Tom Calvert’s The Lakeland Ridges Challenge Walk (1995, Hawes: Leading Edge Press).
You Don’t Need a Weatherman ...      ... to know which way the wind blows, according to the esteemed poet Bob Dylan. The report of the Flimby Wind Turbines Enquiry is an historically significant document, giving an insight into the early stages of the energy problems that led eventually to the Great Energy Crisis of the 2060s. It is revealing that people remained obsessed with trivial issues despite the looming crisis, which must have been plain for all to see (for further discussion see the Journal of Cumbrian History (JoCH), 156, 456-477, 2107).
Plane Sailing on Windermere      The Rotary Club of Windermere began an Air Show in 2000. Rotary Clubs were secular organisations with the stated aim of helping to build goodwill and peace in the world. Air shows (now long prohibited) hardly brought peace. They wasted fuel on unnecessary flights purely so that people could look at planes, even though the skies were full of them anyway.
The Way We Were, with Silas Jessop      This photograph of Silas Jessop was taken by Herbert Bell. The names of the other two characters are not known.
The Fairy Fell Roundelay      The ‘Fairfield Round’ was a popular walk when fellwalking was common. The route was as described, from Ambleside by High Pike to Fairfield and back over Great Rigg. The fouetté rond de jambe en tournant is most famously performed in the pas de deux of Swan Lake. But as the idea is to perform many turns without one’s toe moving a centimetre it would have been useless for getting off the mountain.
Mrs Mudderdale’s Diary (June 15)      ‘Activity weeks’ were a short-lived manifestation of urban guilt at the way rural lifestyles had been ruined. Their popularity rapidly waned as everybody became farmers, of a sort.
What Bare-Faced Cheek?      Painstaking research by Alice Ackerman (JoCH, 157, 113-136, 2108) has revealed that the resonantly Cumbrian surnames of the ladies are not from Arthur’s imagination, as it may seem. They are in fact all old Cumbrian dialect words for ‘beat’ or ‘hit’. They are among 130 such words (there must have been a lot of beating in old Cumbria) listed in Land of the Lakes (1983) by the obscure writer Melvyn Bragg.
Nature Notebook      As the ‘foxes’ item is introduced as a dull news story, some readers have assumed that “foxes are never seen on a Sunday” is an old Cumbrian saying. In fact, no old Cumbrian has ever been heard saying it.
High Society      Albert Rainwhite is, of course, a very-thinly-veiled Alfred Wainwright, whose books are still in print today, 150 years after they were written, even though nearly all the walks described are now illegal. Readers adore the quaint pictures, scarcely believing that anyone could possibly have bothered to make every little mark by pen-and-ink.
Low Brow Opening      Low Brow was closed shortly after it opened. A wall fell on four visitors. The National Truss wanted to restore the building to its previous unstable state but planning permission was refused.
Mrs Mudderdale’s Diary (August 13)      Arthur was mistaken in his belief that this photograph was of Mrs Mudderdale. It is now known to be of a Ms Beatrix Potter, a farmer-writer, or writer-farmer, whose books about anthropomorphised animals were once quite popular with children, their parents and the Japanese.
How Pathétique      Musicologists have rejected Arthur’s theory about Tchaikovsky’s 6th Symphony on the grounds that, although Tchaikovsky did visit England in 1893 (the year he composed the symphony) there is, as yet, no evidence that he travelled to the Lake District.
Nun the Wiser      After years of acrimony, a court case decreed that the rock should be painted as a Bishop in even years and a Nun in odd years. Thus was true equality achieved. Although the Ladies were not altogether happy to be considered odd.
The Tale of Squire Ruskin      Dr Reginald Hollis, Director of the Ruskin Research Institute at the University of Cumbria, has recently provided a detailed analysis of ‘The Tale of Squire Ruskin’ (JoCH, 159, 23-58, 2110). He concluded that the tale is riddled with accuracies (young Ruskin did write a very long poem; his father did sell alcohol; ...; Ruskin did invent ‘illth’; and John Prescott did study at Ruskin College) but “is wholly lacking in the respect due to an intellectual giant who has a world-class research institute devoted to his study. In comparison, Arthur is a pygmy - no disrespect to pygmies, who I am sure are all fine, brave and wise people, unlike Arthur”.
Hawkshead 3 Windermere 4      Here we appear to have an instance of Arthur’s slipshod scholarship. Most authorities believe him to have muddled the photograph of the Hawkshead Athletic football team with that of the Ravenglass railway station staff (see below) - but see JoCH, 152, 143-145, 2103.
Pen Your Pimp      Yes, that really is how shepherds used to count. Researchers have, however, been unable to find any record of a ventriloquial whistler.
The Duke of Westminster’s A to Z      Before the lawyers begin sharpening their quills it should be emphasised that Arthur's twenty-six items were entirely fictional. (Between you and me, research has shown that they were not entirely entirely fictional because he seems to have smuggled in at least six nuggets of non-fiction: about Daniel Snow, Eaton Hall, the Scrope v Grosvenor case, George, Loelia Ponsonby (L seems to be entirely factual apart from the bit about the magazine), and the family motto.)
A Word’s Worth      The notion of a ‘scrabble week’ may seem rather ridiculous but in fact such things were tried in the 2000s in desperate attempts to lure yet more tourists to the Lake District.
Note about the Photographs      Arthur left a large pile of photographs, slides, negatives and newspaper cuttings. Some were attached to textual items presumably with the intention to include them (as I've done above) to brighten up the turgid text. The provenance of all these photographs is not known. There is no indication that Arthur obtained, or even sought, permission to use any of the photographs. Maybe he died, or had to flee the country, before embarking on this tedious task. At all events, it is much too tedious a task for me to embark on now.
© John Self, Drakkar Press