One pleasant May evening, Pop and Ma Larkin and their six children – sated on fish, chips and ice cream – return to the rustic charms of their Kent farm.
Waiting for them is a young man: Mr Cedric Charlton, an upstanding inspector of taxes, come to discover why they haven’t paid any. Yet as junk-dealer Pop patiently explains: nothing’s ever that simple at the Larkins’. Mariette takes a shine to ‘Charley’ – as Pop calls him – and before long the family have introduced the uncomplaining inspector to the delights of country living: the lusty scents of wild flowers, the pleasures of a bottle of Dragon’s Blood, cold cream dribbled over a bowl of strawberries and the sweet song of nightingales.
Will Cedric come to his senses? Or will he beat a hasty retreat to the office?
Herbert Ernest Bates was born in 1905, in Northamptonshire, the son of a cobbler, and his schooldays were spent in a brick-terraced industrial town dominated by factories where he dreaded he would...Read more