Dear Lupin…Letters to a Wayward Son by Roger Mortimer
My rating: 4 of 5 stars
I read the majority of this book on flights back and forth across the Atlantic, and it proved to be perfect entertainment. I tried to watch the in-flight movies, but this Dear Lupin was much more satisfactory as a source of enjoyable amusement. I was still able to listen to the jazz channel in the background.
As the description says, this is a book of letters from a father to his son. The father despairs for the destiny, or lack of it, of his wayward son. It is unlikely that any of his advice will ever sink in. Nevertheless, he perseveres, and gives it anyway. The interspersion of comments from the recipient make it even clearer that the paternal advice will never have a positive effect.
Lupin believes that his family are middle class, but they are definitely towards the upper end of middle class, straying into upper class. The circles in which they mix are certainly in the upper echelons of English society.
What made this book even more interesting for me was that I have lived, on and off, in the area of most of the events for the past 35 years, so I know all of the places very well.
Without spoiling the read for you, I conclude this review with some amusing tidbits that I highlighted on my way through. I hope that they tempt you into reading the whole book.
(A comment from the son which is tacked to a letter that he received when he was in hospital)
– My mother (sometimes known as the Bureau of Misinformation) is desperately worried and following my liver biopsy calls a distant cousin who is a doctor for advice: ‘I’m most frightfully worried about my son Charles, they’ve just done an autopsy on him.’
– For some reason or other I got on the wrong train at Waterloo but luckily I quite like Bournemouth.
– ‘How eager for fame a man must be To write up his name in a W.C.’
– Mrs Cameron stayed on Thursday night: she and your mother talked incessantly; neither listened to a word the other said which was sensible as neither was saying anything really worth listening to.
– Yesterday I met an old buffer in Newbury who had been at the Gaselee’s party. He tried out a new hearing aid there, switched it on to a maximum volume and has been stone deaf ever since.
– My father’s account of the middle-class existence of a long-suffering, elderly gentleman in Berkshire, together with his self-deprecating humour, continues to prove to be a big hit in Africa.
– Your mother was hoping to have her first day’s cubbing last Friday but it was cancelled as the head groom at the Old Berks stables had peppered a female employee with a humane killer and then blown his own head off. He had worked there for twenty-five years and the girl, whom Nidnod knew well, is thirty years younger than he was! It’s odd the way demon sex keeps on obtruding into fox-hunting!
(Nidnod is the family nickname for Lupin’s mother)
– John’s successor at Ascot is Piers Bengough, a tough but agreeable South African Jew whose sister Mrs Quarry lived near the Thistlethwaytes at Eversley. I hope he will follow the example of Bernard Norfolk and John A. by letting us use the Ascot Authority stand through out the year.
(My (reviewer’s) mother-in-law was housekeeper to the Bengough family)
– 1st lady: My dog did very well. He got a first, a second and was Highly Commended.
2nd lady: Mine did all right too. He had a fight, a fuck and was highly delighted.
– Also dead was my former commanding officer General Sir Guy Salisbury-Jones, whom we called Winchester-Smith.
(You have to understand English geography to get this one!)
– Once a judge observed to him, ‘Mr Smith, you are being extremely offensive,’ to which Smith saucily replied: ‘As a matter of fact we both are. The difference is that I’m trying to be and you can’t help it.’
– Two definitions of a Gentleman:
1. He has all the qualities of a saint bar saintliness (Hugh Kingsmill).
2. He always gets out of the bath to do a pee (Anon).
Are you tempted?
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