‘Variety, the unexpected, a bit of vulgarity and the ridiculous mixed in with the elevated,’ has been Roger Hudson’s recipe in compiling this commonplace book from material he’s gathered over the past 40 years. And that is what we are given in this wide-ranging collection by a well-read man with a sharp eye, an ironic – indeed very English – sense of humour and a devotion to history.
Surprise, recognition, amusement, An Englishman’s Commonplace Book calls forth a variety of reactions. Ranging over the centuries, it contains a rich mix of often arresting facts, vivid descriptions, absurd observations and wise words. Sir Christopher Wren rubs shoulders with Eddie Izzard, Princess Margaret with Elizabeth I. And all organized under subject headings to help find that appropriate quote.
Above all it gives us a perspective on our own history via the voices of those who were living it, reminding us that the past was not a rehearsal for the present, that there is no substitute for the horse’s mouth. Altogether a book for the times and a perfect present for a thoughtful and humorous friend. It may even inspire you to start a commonplace book of your own.
‘Every garden, however small, should include at least two acres of rough woodland.’ The 1st Lord Rothschild
‘The British don’t like music very much, but they do like the noise it makes.’ Sir Thomas Beecham