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.






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