Wednesday, January 9, 2008

Book Passage/Animal Instincts

To set the scene; a man has gone back home after his father's death.

Kit sat down slowly on his father's bed, feeling eerily detached from the goings-on around him. He raised his eyes and looked around the room. It had been the hub of his father's small universe – the room in which he slept, wrote, read, and thought. Three of the walls were book-lined – volumes on natural history and farming, wild flowers and poetry; a few were new, most old, some leatherbound. In front of the large window, which stretched almost to the floor, stood a Victorian roll-top desk. The papers on it were neatly categorised into orderly piles, but pigeon-holes were stuffed with a mixture of feathers and luggage labels, a pale blue eggshell on a wad of cotton wool, the stub of a candle in an old brass stick. A pot of pencils stood like a vase of faded flowers to one side of the ink-spattered blotter, on which rested the old Waterman pen that he father had used for as long as Kit could remember.

He felt a stab of sadness, got up and walked towards it. He turned round the chair in front of the desk and lowered himself into it, then leaned forward on the battered leather top and gazed into his father's world, as though looking for guidance. None came.

He swivelled round and took in the rest of the room – the old brown dressing-gown on the back of the faded pine door, the piles of magazines stacked on the threadbare Indian rug that covered the floor – the Countryman and Farmer's Weekly, the proceedings of the Botanical Society of the British Isles, and obscure publications with strange titles. It reminded him of the visit he and his father had made when he was small, to Churchill's home at Chartwell. There, Churchill's study remained exactly as he had left it, even to the glass of whisky on the desk.

Alan Titchmarsh, Animal Instincts


  1. Hi Nan,
    This sounds like another great book to add to my list. I recently got Letters from Eden, and am thoroughly enjoying it. It reminds me so much of one of my favorite books by Edith Holden, The Country Diary of an Edwardian Lady. Both are books with such beautiful covers that I feel belong out on display on a table - I couldn't bare to hide them on a shelf!

  2. Alison, what if you posted a comment with your email address on it? I must approve any comments before publishing them on my blog, and I would delete yours so your address wouldn't be out there for the world, but I'd like to be able to email you since you don't have a blog.

    I've never read The Country Diary. I know it is beautiful since I've seen the cover. Is there some sadness connected to it?? Did Edith Holden die young? That's so neat you got Letters From Eden, and are enjoying it. It was a birthday present last year and I wanted to wait and start it in January. :<)

  3. I hope you don't mind, I tagged you for a meme (see here:! The idea is to give 7 random facts about yourself, then tag some other people with links to their blogs, and leave comments on their sites telling them you've tagged them.

    Thanks for reminding me, by the way, in your "Mrs Bale" entry (I love Mrs Bale and As Time Goes By!) to be thankful for the weather, whatever it is. I was feeling down today because the snow we'd waited for for so long is all melting after a couple of days, leaving the ground all muddy.

  4. This sounds like my kind of book. Is the rest of it as rich in detail as the passage you quoted?


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