Thursday, August 30, 2007
Duncan Fallowell: Sensual delights in arcadian places
Acclaimed travel writer, cultural critic, novelist (etc - see his interview via labels below) Duncan Fallowell sends me this stimulating update. He stayed with novelist and publisher Susan Hill (I wonder whether she knows about the opportunistic sex) ... he got a funny mark on his leg ... he recounts being the Poet Laureate of Hay ... and so many, many other things, including the opportunistic sex (except at his mother's) ...:
Dear Mme Arcati - I am back in London after nearly two months in the English countryside and just want to give you a wave. As you know, the first half was spent in the long barn of Susan Hill's farm near Chipping Campden, where inundation was followed by the Dunkirk spirit and sunshine and I could adopt shorts. There is one aspect of Susan's existence which is very odd, so odd indeed that I was in a sort of shock about it, but otherwise I had a heavenly time in a big, high, cream room among orchards, long grass and deer, and successfully launched myself into my fourth novel. The only mishap was that a strange round mark appeared on my leg, the colour of raspberries, the size of a tuppeny piece. But it soon faded into my suntan.
Then I went to Ripe in Sussex to stay with my old friend Elisa Segrave who is writing a book about her mother and another about her dog. She says it's difficult not to muddle the two and such has been her consternation that she's now gone off to recover in the late Lord Lambton's villa in Tuscany. After that it was to Herefordshire, one of my spiritual homes, for a week of paradisal sun. The warmth and clarity were astonishing, like Riviera or Hollywood light but on a landscape more beautiful than either.
Richard Booth, the King of Hay-on-Wye, reminded me that many years ago he made me the Poet Laureate of Hay. I always forget because the great thing about the position is that you don't have to write any poetry. It also confers immunity from ever being invited to participate in the Hay-on-Wye Literary Festival, and indeed I never have been. Richard sounded very upbeat because after two years of dithering he has finally sold his book business. This is to someone called Paul Greatbatch, a Londoner with an American wife. I wonder if they know anything about books. The great thing is that Richard has kept hold of Hay Castle, so we can still look down from the battlements.
Now back in Notting Hill there's not a trace of the carnival or much else - the great thing about the carnival is that it frightens most locals away well beforehand and they don't return until mid September. But last week in my mother's garden in Berkshire my sister said 'What's that funny mark on your leg?' It was hard to make out under normal circumstances, since my thigh is very tanned and covered in golden hair. But on examination I saw that I had a ring rash like a target. I went to my GP in Harley Street. He asked 'Have you been anywhere with long grass and deer?' That raspberry mark - a tick bite from Susan's in the Cotswolds! My GP says that since I haven't had a fever reaction there's nothing to worry about. So if at any point between now and my let's-hope natural death at the age of ninety I should be carted off raving for inexplicable reasons, perhaps you would remember to tell them about my tick. By the way I had some great opportunistic sex in all locations - except at my mother's.
With best wishes, Duncan Fallowell