January 22nd, 2014

Rose Blight

Dear Lupin …Letters to a Wayward Son


More letters, this time written by the late racing correspondent Roger Mortimer to his son Charlie. When I’d finished the book I browsed for reviews; everyone loved the book it seems. The Guardian reviewer began with this: If you're one of those flinty-hearted souls not charmed by books where everyone's pissed up on gin, has a nickname like Pongo (sic. Pongo is a dog), Bingbong or Wiffwaff and comments that the doctors in a hospital are "as black as ten feet up a factory chimney", this may not be for you. I find I am rather that sort of soul which is why, when I began this book, I simply hated it. I warmed to it because Roger Mortimer was a genuinely good and funny writer; I laughed out loud a few times. As the book goes on, although still funny it becomes rather touching, revealing an ageing man in declining health for whom the world (his world, anyway) is going to hell in a handcart. He bears it all with a very English stoical resignation, just as he copes with an alcoholic wife and a wastrel son with wry humour. You can’t help liking him.

I wish I could say the same for Charlie. The original, awful Lupin is much more to my taste than his namesake. CM would no doubt find my dreary middle class disapproval highly amusing.