Virginia Barton

27 October 2017: And it’s not even Advent!


27 October 2017


Many years ago, in youthful ignorance, I walked out of Waiting for Godot. It was probably in 1956 before life became serious. It has taken me sixty years to catch up on the play which I have just read. No skipping a page either, bar a few snippets of Lucky’s monologue. The back cover of my copy defies me to forget it and I won’t.

We left the play partly because my escort had playfully slipped a few peanut shells down the back of the neck of the woman in front of us. She was wearing black décolleté as befits Beckett and she never felt a thing — at least not while she was sitting down. Exiting smartly at the interval we went to Mooney’s Irish Bar for oysters (yuk) and Guinness (yum).


Which brings me neatly to Christmas presents.

Don’t you love reading a good play rather than seeing it?

W for G is destined for one of the many thesps among our fifteen grandchildren.

Another play is a reminder of the centenary of the First World War, very much in the media these days. It is funny, poignant and brave: The Wipers Times by Ian Hislop and Nick Newman (£9.99; also available on DVD and Kindle).

(A rare treat are facsimiles of the actual newspaper: £11.00 used, paperback.)


A memoir with a genuine “voice”, told without self-pity or frills, is: We Were a Band of Brothers: The Memoir of Captain Philip Heath (£12.99).

Stanley Spencer at Burghclere, Hampshire by Amanda Bradley (£4.99) is the National Trust Guidebook to the collection of Spencer’s works at Sandham. Don’t get it if you are no fan of Spencer, but hunt it down if you are — better still, take it with you when you visit the unforgettable Chapel.


All these books-for-presents are waiting to be wrapped in bargain sludge-brown paper with approximately green holly that I bought at a Charity shop where it looked quite cheery under a bright light.

The countdown has begun and don’t tell me you don’t secretly enjoy every festive minute of it, Virginia!





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