21 October 2003
Forgive the pause, but I've been away again. Down south, helping an old friend pack up his late mother's house. Weird coincidences come in threes: I flicked through a box of postcards and found one of Brenchley (a village in Kent, where my forebears came from; been there once on a special trip, never otherwise heard it mentioned anywhere, certainly never seen a postcard); I flicked through some business correspondence and found a letter from a John Brenchley (once in my life, I have encountered another Brenchley just by chance; that's once in forty-four years); I flicked through a bird-watching notebook and found 'Outing to Brenchley Wood', which I've never heard of in all my born days. Spooky, or what?
And so home, spooked but satisfied, and among the post that had come in my absence was the sixth and final volume of the US edition of Outremer, from lovely Ace Books. So I had the whole set, and very fine it looked; and then I gave it away. Sunday was the final day of the Durham Literature Festival, of which I am a patron, and we closed it with a double whammy, Steve Bell followed by Terry Jones, and I had drinks and dinner and talk with both. That's the nation's greatest political cartoonist and my favourite Python, and there was me among them. Ann Cleeves tells me I'm too old to have heroes; but this was Steve Bell and Terry Jones, for crying out loud! And Terry - who is of course a mediaeval scholar too, and hence my favouritism - went off with Outremer tucked under his arm. I don't expect him to read it, but hey, if he only sits it on a shelf I'll be happy. And if he doesn't, if he ships it straight off to Oxfam, of course I'll never know, so my happiness is guaranteed.
© Chaz Brenchley 2003
Reproduced here by permission of Chaz Brenchley, who asserts his moral right to be identified as the author of this work.