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This report is taken from PN Review 192, Volume 36 Number 4, March - April 2010.

Winter and Rough Weather Neil Powell

Vernon Scannell’s memoir The Tiger and the Rose (1971) opens with a paragraph which beautifully evokes the winter consolations of a middle-aged writer living in rural Dorset:

It is January and the sky above Payne’s Hill is sour and grimed. Soon darkness will have fallen and the children will at last get to bed, the boys first because the girls are older and have serious homework to do, and I shall read to Toby and John for ten minutes or so, and then come back to my room and maybe write a bit more or, far more likely, bumble among old letters and abortive verses, make vague dishonest plans for a future of systematic industry, and then walk down to The Griffin’s Head for a couple of pints of farm cider and maybe a draught Guinness or two to finish up on. It is not a bad life.

I remember reading that at the time and thinking: Yes, that’s what it’ll be like, more or less, and it won’t be a bad life. I enjoyed Scannell’s wintry relish, and I enjoy it still. A friend who works as a psychotherapist in Richmond says that at this time of year his consulting-room is full of people oppressed by darkness and gloom: bloody fools, but that’s cities for you, I suppose. The writer, it seems to me, is likelier to love the ‘sour and grimed’ sky, the early dusk, the bumbling among papers and the ...

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