Say the word ‘England’ and chances are potent images will spring to mind of empty Hula Hoops packets floating in disused boating lakes, or the morning sun sending amber rays through flat half pints of lager inexplicably left on suburban walls. The word will surely conjure the taste of salad free barbecues and the smell of asphalt, crisps and garden sheds moldering in the October rain.
But rewind the clock to the era of Granny’s books and one finds these dust covered dust covers tell of an England much different from the one sketched above.
Take the cover of ‘The Cloud Above the Green’ for example.
Breathing a collective sigh of relief after Nazism’s near miss, England was still in the mood for a spot of military based self satisfaction. Here, that most potently English of communal spaces, the Village Green, frames the imposing shadows of the mighty Royal Air-force as they sally forth to bash the bosch.
Two men look on, hearts presumably swelling with the knowledge that the village green is safe for their sons and daughters to grant planning permission to tarmac the lot and turn it into a Waitrose.
War planes also patrol over the posh looking gaffe depicted on the cover of the intriguingly entitled ‘Caper Sauce’.
This volume boasts the best book endorsement I have ever read;
“Mr. Mais tells the story of a famous cricket commentator and comic writer with humour and lively insight” – The Queen
Did the Queen often go in for literary criticism one wonders? Or was it that she was especially fond of Caper Sauce?
‘The Heart of the House’ harks back to the days when the English Pub was only distinguishable from a house by a painted sign. These days one would be able to judge the establishment better by observing the crowd of smokers and mobile phone conversationalists stood around the front door.
‘The Children of the Archbishop’ reminds us that there was a time when the ecclesiastical atmosphere was considered improving for boys in short trousers wearing ties.
I must confess that as far as the actual reading of the contents of Granny’s books goes I have made little progress. It seems inappropriate to read them at any other time than following Sunday lunch, dressed in a knitted tanktop and tie, smoking a disgusting pipe that I’ve taken up for the very purpose and drinking nut brown ale. And, I’m sorry to say that under such circumstances it isn’t very long before my eyelids droop, my head nods forward and the book slips from my grasp.