Blog reader Lance Kidney admits (kindly) that he’s addicted – “particularly on the days when you don’t mention any deaths.” Stephen Brenkley confesses similar sentiments, but says he prefers it when there’s no football.
Save for passing reference to West Bromwich Albion and to North Ferriby United, an improbable combination, today’s edition has precious little football. With half an eye on The Lion and Albert – “no wrecks and nobody drownded, ‘fact nothing to laugh at, at all” – there are no deaths, either.
Where were we?
Only too familiar with Unconsidered Trifles, my autobiography, readers might also recall that the title is a nod to Autolycus, a slightly rogue-ish Shakespearean character in A Winter’s Tale, said to be a snapper-up of unconsidered trifles.
There seems almost to be a Trifle tower. Ted Roylance draws attention to the recent apearance of Geoff Kent’s book of the same name – sub-titled “Images of the every day for modellers and artists” (Wild Swan, £14 95) – while Compton Mackenzie’s collected novels with that title have been around sice 1932.
Sir Edward Montague Compton Mackenzie, known to his family as Monty, was every inch a proud Scot.
A co-founder of the Scottish National Party in 1928, Rector of Glasgow University, said to be an ardent Jacobite, he built himself a house on the Hebridean island of Barra – a wild and lobely place, as Pte Fraser was apt to remind us. It’s on Barra that he’s buried.
Among a prodigious output, perhaps his two best known works – Whisky Galore and The Monarch of the Glen – are self-evidently Scottish, too.
What may be less well known is that the man Britannica describes as “a Scottish writer” was born in November 1883 in British West Hartlepool (and why “British” West Hartlepool, anyway?)
Mackenzie’s parents were theatricals, playing at the 1,500-capacity Gaiety Theatre and staying nearby in Adelaide Street, where he made his bow. Whether Mrs Mackenzie was given the night off is not recorded.
The 1887 Gaiety programme, above, comes from the Hartlepool History Then and Now website. The “tonsorial rooms” may be presumed a barber’s while Everton probably wasn’ a football man at all.
In the long life which followed, Mackenzie made little concession to Englishness save for an allegiance to West Brom – see! – said to be a nod to The Hawthorns, their home ground, and to their vaguely Scottish nickname, the Throstles. Knighted in 1952, he also held numerous presidencies, from the Croquet Association to the Siamese Cat Club.
His autobiography alone runs to ten volumes. Mine will remain at just one (buy now while stocks last.)
*The blog a couple of days back enviously compared sales of Unconsidered Trifles, the close-to-home account, with those of Mr Richard Osman’s debut novel The Thursday Murder Club, said already to exceed a million. Readers are again kind.
Tim Wellock had the Pointless host’s book as a Christmas present from his wife, swears that had it not been a gift he’d have given up after 30 pages – “not remoterly in the same league as Unconsidered Trifles.”
Lance Kidney’s similarly dismissive. “Despite being very readable, it’s a very poor book indeed – nowhere near as good as North Ferriby fan Nick Quantrill’s four crime novels.”
See, we said there’d be more football eventually.
*John Rogers’s proposals in yesterday’s blog on how the 2020-21 football season might satisfactorily be ended attracted a lot of interest but not much support. A final genuflection to footy, Phil Bloomfield points out that Stoke Gabriel, beleaguered in the South West Peninsula, isn’t in Cornwall but on the River Dart in Devon. “Nice little place, too.”