Well, here we are, at the end of the week, and I've made it in one piece. I'm going to celebrate by spending this weekend with the latest book by one of my favourite authors, Sophie Hannah, whose sixth crime novel, Lasting Damage, has just arrived from the library. The phone is coming off the hook, I'm detaching the door bell from the batteries and I shall repel all borders. I will also find time to catch up with my posts here and my on-line visiting ready to get back to a more organised schedule on Monday.
Meanwhile, I want to share what I think is a lovely story. When it first came out my library reading group all read Alan Bennett's wonderful book An Uncommon Reader. I'm sure all of those readers who are in the UK know about this gem but if you are from overseas and it hasn't come to your notice it imagines the arrival of a mobile library in the precincts of Buckingham Palace and the gradual conversion of HM the Queen to books and to reading for pleasure. The writing is absolutely typical of Bennett's perceptive observation and wry humour. It's the sort of book you read at one sitting, not only because it's fairly short, but also because you can't put it down until you've finished it.
Well, as I say, everyone in the group loved it and Mary, the librarian who runs the sessions, decided that because it had given us such pleasure she would contact Bennett's agent and just say thank you on our behalf. So, she sent him an e-mail and asked him to pass on our best wishes to the author. That would have been the back end of 2007 and none of us had given it another thought until last week - when a postcard arrived.
The postcard, of the Yorkshire Dales, had been sent in September 2009 but had been rather vaguely addressed and it had taken the Post Office sometime to work out where to deliver it. To be honest, the sender's handwriting didn't help either. However, when we deciphered it, we discovered that it had come from Alan Bennett himself. He thanked us not only for our kind thoughts but also for taking the trouble to contact him and spoke about the process of writing the book and how it had been easier than most because he didn't know HMQ and could therefore let his imagination do the work. He wrote as if we were the ones doing him the favour instead of our being the people who had benefited immeasurably by the pleasure given by his wonderful writing. We would have been thrilled by a response from his agent, but this was so personal, and so typical of a man who is known here (much to his chagrin) as a National Treasure. He is, indeed, a most uncommon writer.