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Dr John Hawkins

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Mitford and Waugh

Posted on 2017/04/29 08:37:06 (April 2017).

[Wednesday 26th April 2017]
Worked from home again today, Chie went out for lunch with a friend, so I went and had pizza at the Franco Manca in Kentish Town for lunch. Considered then popping down to Camden to buy coffee, but had a bit of an intuition the weather was going to take a turn for the worst so went home instead. Sure enough I just got home in time to take the washing in before the rain, then hail, then later on even a bit of thunder.

Received a copy of the Letters of Nancy Mitford and Evelyn Waugh in the post today, and started reading it in the evening. The first few were actually slightly hard work to get through, as Mitford and Waugh had such a huge circle of mutual friends, about whom they gossiped constantly, many referred to by obscure nicknames, that the constant flitting back and forth to the footnotes was a bit tiring. Eventually though I got into the swing of it, was perhaps slightly mixed emotions - on the one hand they're often very witty, and it's fascinating to see behind the scenes of a handful of novels I'd read recently (The Pursuit of Love, Decline and Fall, a Handful of Dust - and of course lots of references to Brideshead Revisited). It is particularly interesting how autobiographical all of their novels seem to be, almost all the characters seem to be based at least in part on real life friends and acquaintances of theirs, and it's fun that they mix reality and fiction in the letters, often referring to the real people with the names given in the books, even outside of the context of the narratives in the novels.

All of that said though I seem to be in a bit of a social rut at the moment, nights out seem to have become a very rare commodity of late, and even when the usual suspects can be rallied into action we seem to just be largely re-treading old ground. That, and the fact the modern world feels so banal compared to Waugh and Mitford's era. So, delightful though their letters were, they reawakened a deep sense of ennui, which had perhaps been put on hold with the temporary excitement of my birthday party in March, but had certainly been very evident for the couple of months before that.

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