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Mister, Kipling


Nice day. Field trip!

We went to Burwash, to Rudyard Kipling’s house, Bateman’s, the farthest away of our regular National Trust jaunts. We’ve been there many times before (in fact, we first signed up to the National Trust there). Big, big Kipling fans, us.

It’s a desperately cool Jacobean house but, even better, his daughter left the whole thing — furniture, knick-knacks and all — to the Trust. So it’s as near exactly the way it was in Kipling’s lifetime, including all the shit on the desk and his trash can full of first drafts. The latter was emptied twice a day by a housemaid, who burned the contents. He was very, very controlling of his work and image.

Today, unexpectedly, they had a Kipling historian who was lucky enough to look a bit like Kipling (probably not a coincidence, that) giving a one-man show in the garden, telling the story of Kipling’s life. It was very well done.

It was full of fun Kipling facts. Like, he was born nine months after his parents took an enjoyable holiday at Rudyard Lake, Staffordshire. Nudge-nudge, wink-wink.

He was a kind of a pre-movie movie star. Before he moved to the country, a local pub landlord organized tours past his house. He wrote three times to complain about it before he learned the landlord was selling his complaint letters for cash.

In fact, toward the end of his life, tradesmen stopped cashing his checks (cheques here) — the autograph on it was worth more than the amount written.

We hope to do more of this, now it’s warmed up a bit. But it’s still very cold at night, like in the low fifties. It’s been such a miserable, cold Summer, even one of our dimmer acquaintances was heard to say, “I know they say the earth is warming, but…”

August 9, 2016 — 8:26 pm
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