Hullo, Justin here,
By odd co-incidence – aren’t ALL coincidences odd? – I have been asked by those strange but harmless people at The Pangolin, which tolerates my thoughts from time to time, to recommend one or two books, not necessarily as “improving” reading but to be transports of delight where the written word might give us momentary escape from the world’s manifest troubles. But also, coincidentally, my lady wife has asked me to join her Ladies Reading Group. But more of that later.
My first book, “Gunfight at Comanche Bluff” by Zeke Hanrahan traces the colourful career of Django Butterworth a.k.a. “The Cactus Kid”*. This is a tale of derring-do certainly, but it also points out the ultimate futility of racial conflict. Butterworth, part Irish and part something else vies for the favours of Gloria McGillycuddy, cattle baroness and beauty.
Unconventionally for the time, Gloria is also courted by the powerful Comanche chieftain, He-Who-Can-Pee-Furthest.This is indeed a powerful story which seeks to show that under the skin, we are all the same. (Purple Sage Publishing, £7.99).
In complete contrast, my second offering is non-fiction. My predecessor, Dr. Rowan Williams has put together what must be a truly definitive volume. Beautifully illustrated and written with the spiritual fervour which so defines Dr Williams, “Eyebrows of the World” is an astounding work. Long, at 2065pp, it deals with eyebrow care, eyebrow toupees, and the social stigma endured by those born with five or more eyebrows. Certainly not one for flimsy coffee tables (Hirsute Publications £104.99p).
Of course, I did attend my lady wife’s reading group (every Wednesday, 2.30pm in that little room off the Chapel vestry that nobody quite knows what to do with). As I approached, clutching the group’s chosen book, “Oh God, Do it Again!”, which I confess I hadn’t read but assumed to be a collection of personal accounts documenting experiences of Divine Interventions, I was surprised to hear somewhat raucous singing. Pushing open the door, I was further taken aback to see, in company with several rather tweedy ladies, the young man with the wire in his ear. “Archie!”, he shouted. “Take a pew. Grab a glass!” There followed one rather garbled version of “Roll Me Over in the Clover” and the beginning of something called “Eskimo Nell”. What would Jesus have done ? I made my excuses and left.
*It is worth noting that this nickname came about after a close encounter with desert plants. Butterworth always rode side-saddle.