Virginia Barton

20 April 2018: Between the Lines

20 April 2018


None of us today can have read The Pink’un and I can’t find any reference to it. It was, I think, a gentleman’s paper in the Georgian era, possibly of a sporting nature? I see two or three blades with well-turned calves and high neck-cloths lounging in the window of Whites turning the pages of The Pink’un and discussing the odds.

Please, let me know if you know what sort of a journal it was and when. It sounds like one for the Georgette Heyer aficionado.



After BH died I cancelled The Times which was delivered to him daily by either Barry or Billy. I substituted it with the weekend Financial Times, delivered on Saturdays by either Billy or Barry. Known familiarly as the FT, it is a pink broadsheet. With what do they dye it, I wonder? Is it an environmentally friendly dye or is it going to poison the fish?

This is how we shop these days and please don’t mention plastic. (There was no such thing as plastic when I was a girl.)

Of course I could read the FT online. This would be environmentally friendlier with no trees involved, and presumably white. But one needs genuine newspaper sometimes; for example to shred and use as bedding for those rodents so beloved of small girls, and for the lining of compost caddies.


Two sections of the weekend FT are passed over straightaway: I have lost the taste for “Money” and high end “Fashion”. The “Magazine” and House and Home” always merit a quick flip for the recipe and gardening. There’s a comprehensive newsy section with serious comment, but personally I rely on the BBC for news at all hours of the day and night.

The FT‘s “Life and Arts” section is saved to the end. This beano of articles and reviews lasts me all week. Interviews, books, music (from pop and jazz to world and classical), ballet, theatre and film make up a diet to suit the non-participator in all things cultural. So if like me, you hardly ever go to such things as concerts and plays, and reading is limited; one is at least on nodding terms with what’s going on.

The trans-Atlantic input to the FT gives added zest and amusement. It takes me nearly a week to absorb this section by which it’s been mutilated by several column inches.


I picked out two books this week to whip up your enthusiasm:

Zbigniew Brzezinski: America’s Grand Strategist by Justin Vaisse. The reviewer, Edward Luce, is an author and FT columnist. At 544 pages I fear I won’t ever read it but put it on the pile labelled hopefully “Books to be read to me or buy and give as presents.”

The second book is by Miranda Seymour, prolific writer and critic: In Byron’s Wake: The Turbulent Lives of Lord Byron’s Wife and Daughter, Annabella Milbanke and Ada Lovelace. Another long book at 560 pages but a fascinating subject.

If any publisher is reading this, please tell me why book titles are lumbered with lengthy subtitles? Zbigniew Brzezinski and In Byron’s Wake would have been teases enough for me to purchase both. Kim needed no further subtitle, neither did Voss nor The Mill on the Floss.


Any news of The Pink’un, with or without subtitle, please comment below.





  • Jack L says on: April 20, 2018 at 12:29 am


    The Pink’Un was the popular name for The Sporting Times, because it was printed on salmon-coloured paper (like your beloved FT). The Sporting Times was founded in 1865 — quite a bit past Georgian — and ceased publication in 1932. Its chief (and more upscale) competitor was The Field.

    Here’s a lovely anecdote from Wikipedia:

    In Sir Arthur Conan Doyle’s story “The Adventure of the Blue Carbuncle”, first published in the Strand Magazine in January 1892, Sherlock Holmes deduces that a man is keen on gambling by noticing that he has a copy of the paper, commenting — “When you see a man with whiskers of that cut and the ‘Pink ‘un’ protruding out of his pocket, you can always draw him by a bet”.

    And this one:

    In P.G. Wodehouse’s short story “Bingo and the Little Woman,” Bertie Wooster reveals that, “bar a weekly wrestle with the Pink ’Un and an occasional dip into the form-book, I’m not much of a lad for reading”.

    • Ginny says on: April 20, 2018 at 3:26 am


      Excellent, Jack! Thank you so much. Shame it isn’t Georgian, it sounds so very much so and would have fitted the bill nicely. Both Willoughby and Rawdon Crawley would certainly have read it.

      A positive corker of a book on a not too dissimilar subject (to do with paper) was given me this year: Just My Type, a book about fonts by Simon Garfield. Please find it, buy it and read it and keep it. It’s for anyone who likes words, writing, reading, calligraphy, art. I fell for it within the first para and keep going back to it for another dip. Gin

  • Coal-Filled Wellies says on: April 20, 2018 at 7:58 am


    The FT is my daily lifeline in a world where even supposedly respectable papers are full of “fake news”. I always read online, where it is also pink.

    Like you, Ginny, I don’t go for the ghastly weekend consumerism. It sits so uncomfortably with the daily paper’s rather earnest left-of-centrism. But then so do most of its readers!

    Never knew that the Pink’Un was anything other than the FT. Therefore never quite understood those PGW references. Thank you, Jack L and Ginny!

    • Ginny says on: April 20, 2018 at 7:44 pm


      Last weekend I took the Sunday Times. BIG mistake. Maybe I simply don’t like newspapers?

      Will perhaps follow your lead, Wellies, and look at the FT online. I used to buy the “I” for hospital/dental appointments, till I read all about the owner in an — admittedly — rival rag.

      Back to the BBC, which is now being criticised for bias… can’t win! G

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