*Disclosure: I only review books that I have selected for my own enjoyment, and the views expressed are, therefore, even if a little batty, completely genuine. You need to be aware, though, that this review has an affiliate link, meaning that if you click through to Amazon, via the book’s image, and choose to make a purchase, I will earn a commission at no extra cost to yourself.
It’s not that I’m fed up with writing nonsense; I did, after all, kick the morning off by reading the last couple of chapters of ‘Fing’ by David Walliams. And, for those not in the know, then David and I are as one in the race to beat the world record for creating the longest list of made-up words! So, no, I’m not at all fed up.
And I’m not even nonsensupped.
It’s just that there’s a weird pain making itself known in the right-hand side of my brain (assuming that there is a brain in there somewhere), and I suspect that, being a pain and being weird, it’s trying to tell me I ought to stop looking at my laptop screen for a wee* while.
Being enslaved to all the pains of my being, I make a brave decision. I don my best purple(ish) shoes (the ones from Clarks’ that keep my arthritic big toe in position), and, complete with a rucksack full of unread books, step out of my front door, thinking to head down the valley and into the hub of all things Suffolk.
Immediately, I remember that, although, I’ve been banned from buying more books by certain odder-than-odd members of my household, I really ought to go back in and grab a fold-up-in-my-pocket bag – just in case I happen to nip into Works, or even into the odd charity shop.
Complete with rucksack of books, and bag ready for books, a stack of store cards (Works, WHSmiths & Waterstones), and a few Switch cards, I, once again, step out of my front door.
I head down the valley (not literally head down, more kind of sprinting on all the bits of my feet that are not arthritic, i.e. hopping on my left foot.
I find it even easier just to bypass the hopping and slide down the hill on my bum!
The descent is effortless, and I arrive at my destination. Works. No? Okay, I did go there yesterday! As I am aware that it’s not very ladylike to travel steered by my mum, I hop over the road to The British Heart Foundation shop, wrestle my way around a few old ladies and a buggy (so true, that women put off having babies until later-than-the-last minute!), and end up with my right hand sifting through the book shelves. I feel the calling, and somehow sense that not one, but two, of my Salopian ancestors are here – right here in Suffolk! I’ve been stalked by the dead!
Having no choice, but to rescue my fellow Salopians from the dust, I leave the BHF with a hefty edition of Cassell’s Readings (and it really does weigh a tonne!), and a slip of a book going by the name of What did you do in the war, Mummy? You might be wondering what any of this has got to do with Salopians, but my skills in browsing, skimming and scanning have won prizes (fictional ones)!
The Cassell (first edition) contains a poem by none other than William Shenstone (died 1763) of Leasowes, Halesowen in Shropshire, essays by Joseph Addison (1672-1719), husband of the Dowager Countess of Warwick (Warwickshire being another of my ancestral counties), and a poem by Robert Bloomfield (1766-1823). Granted, then Bloomfield is no Salopian, having been birthed in Honington, Suffolk – but it’s only right that I should pay tribute to a native of the land in which I now reside.
And Mavis Nicholson’s book about the role women played in World War Two, harbours a chapter about a lady going by the name of Clemency Greatorex. To be fair, then she appears to have resided in Lymington (where?), so she may not be a Salopian, but my Great Grandmother was a Greatorex – and, if there’s a link, then I, Jay Cool, will find it!
Pleased with my purchases, I boing into Prado Lounge and order a pot of tea. Time to tackle old Shenstone’s poetry. I have to say that the beat of the music blasting out of the loudspeakers, is a tad distracting, but I do my best to stay focused on the poem ‘Jemmy Dawson’ (p.246):
Come listen to my mournful tale,
Ye tender hearts and lovers dear;
Nor will you scorn to heave a sigh,
Nor will you blush to leave a tear.
All this talk of ‘tender hearts’ and ‘lovers’ is a little difficult to absorb, especially when my own last love affair was with a heartless-industrial dustbin. But, I persevere:
Our tender maid she loved him dear,
Of gentle blood the damsel came;
And faultless was her beauteous form,
And spotless was her virgin fame.
And, before I know it, I am transported back to my student days when I stood on a stage and sang Madonna’s ‘Like a Virgin’ for a karaoke being filmed for BBC’s Children in Need. Somehow, though, I feel that being virgin-like would not in any measure have been good enough for Shenstone! In fact, he holds women in such low esteem, that he thinks they should kill themselves in honour of lovers slewn in man squabbles:
With faltering voice she weeping said,
“Oh, Dawson, monarch of my heart!
Think not thy death shall end our loves,
For thou and I will never part.
The line about the lover’s ‘mangled’ body and ‘severed’ head is a a bit more up my street, and I’m almost hooked in, when some Prado customer has the nerve to open the entrance door, wafting a stormy draft onto my weary left leg. The interruption brings me back to the present, and I start to fume when Shenstone’s maid, Kitty, sighs ‘forth’ her lover’s name and expires!
How pathetic can a girl get? One wouldn’t catch Jay Cool dying of a broken heart! Time to recycle the ‘mangled’ bits. And here goes:
Do sit up and hear my tale,
of an ex I dumped when love went stale.
It’s true that, once, he kissed my thigh,
but when he paled, I made a pie!
Romantics thought that I should weep,
then mount my bod upon his heap
But feeling hence so very brave,
I kicked more soil upon his grave.
Some people haven’t got a clue;
love is not lost, in my own view,
when from a ring, I have been saved
and way ahead, my road is paved.
So leave me be to travel on –
the pie is yours!
(My love’s so gone!)
I would now dip into Addison and Bloomfield, but I feel that, for now, being men, they should remain under the crust, until I can afford to adorn them with condiments, so I’m moving onto young Mavis Nicholson.
A number of worthy women feature in Nicholson’s book but, because I am biased towards my own kin, I will focus on Clemency Greatorex. Being asthmatic, she was turned down for service abroad, and opted instead to join the Women’s Voluntary Services. She is soon put to task, finding billets for war workers and child evacuees.
And I know Clemency must surely be related to me when, even though she must have have borne witness to some heart-wrenching testimonies, she lightens the mood by recalling ‘the funny’ moments.
But, if my readers, you fancy stealing a portion of Clemency’s giggles, then I sincerely recommend that you get hold of a copy of Nicholson’s book for yourself.
In the meantime, you’ll just have to make do and mend with Jay Cool!
Copyright of ‘Eating Pies: Book Review’ and ‘Stale Pie’ owned by the highly-esteemed poet, Jay Cool
*And, yes, I am allowed to use the word ‘wee’ without being accused of mimicking the Scots – I lived in Aberdeen, not once, but twice, making me an almost Scot – so there!
P.S. Further research about Joseph Addison reveals that he was such a fastidious writer, he failed to do the most important of tasks, for want of finding the right combination of words. As the matter of informing the British people about their Queen’s death was considered rather urgent, a clerk was hastily dispatched to do the job on Addison’s behalf.
‘The Penny Magazine’, April 28th, 1832, p.31.
See book image links for details of the books reviewed.
Images of hopper, skateboarder and pie, courtesy of Pixabay.com