nineveh_uk (nineveh_uk) wrote,

To see a fine lady upon a white horse

Still sneezing and spluttering, I decided against a walk today, and instead drove to Banbury to have a look round the place. Regrettably though it appears to be a reasonably thriving small town (pop. 40,000), with few empty shops and a lot of people out and about on a Saturday morning, it is no Harrogate, nor even Ilkley. The highlight was a trip to Morrisons, from whence I returned with a plump kipper for tomorrow's breakfast, and a large quantity of Longley Farm yogurt (including the delectable rhubarb) and double cream.

I recently read Michael Innes' GA detective novel Death at the President's Lodgings, a bog-standard do-it-by-numbers piece in 1936 that shows up how good Agatha Christie was. Come to that, it shows up how good Ngaio Marsh was. Wikipedia calls his detective novels "playfully highbrow", which if DatPL is typical of the breed is wrong on both counts (though it is certainly snobbish). Initially I thought he was being original in choosing Bletchley as the location of his Camford-esque university (they didn't get as far as Cambridge), but even this turns out to be a ruse to use the Oxfordshire countryside he is familiar with. The most striking element of the volume turned out to be the author biography, for hitherto I had not know that Michael Innes is J.I.M. Stewart. I find this rather cheering - Death at the President's Lodging is pretty rubbish, but J.I.M. Stewart wrote the Staircase in Surrey quintet of Oxbridge novels which is far from rubbish (though I haven't read all of them yet). It seems there is hope for us all, although Stewart did take forty years...
Tags: books
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