Georgy Girl completely confounded my preconceptions – in fact there was a wholesale misunderstanding of the theme and plot on my part! Yes, there’s a baby and a single mum, but it’s not Cathy Come Home.
Georgina – George – shares her 1960s beatnik Battersea flat with self centred violinist Meredith, and her current lover, and fellow musician Jos. Downtrodden George spends her life running around after them, cooking, cleaning, entertaining, paying.
George has what we could call “low self esteem”, and continuously compares herself unfavourably to glamorous gazelle Meredith and indulges in unrequited love for Jos.
Her parents are live in domestic servants for the wealthy West Londoner Leamingtons, where Ted is James Leamington’s besotted valet, and her mother is the family housekeeper and cook.
George herself is a surrogate daughter to James, although we never really learn Mrs Ls thoughts on the matter. He’s funded George’s private education, music and dancing lessons and has converted a large room in the Leamington’s presumably large London house to serve as George’s dance school.
Everything changes when Meredith tells Jos that she’s pregnant as that she wants to keep the baby “this time”; and James asks George to become his mistress.
The death of his elder brother Simon while on family holiday triggers Matt’s schizophrenia.
The Shock of the Fall is his account of the last years of his childhood and his teenage descent into mental illness.
En route we see the impact on his mum, who never recovers from Simon’s death, and on friends and family who struggle to find ways to help no matter strong and unquestioning their love – his dad’s and Nanny Noo’s in particular.
Shardlake, Nicholas and Barak become embroiled in Kett’s Rebellion whilst in Norwich where Shardlake is investigating the brutal murder of the wife of one of Lady Elizabeth’s distant Norfolk relations.
Tombland is a weighty tome, and a fascinating way to explore the causes of and unfolding of the widespread social unrest that occurred during the early years of Edward Vi’s short reign, under Protector Somerset. Lots of parallels with 21st century capitalism too.
Neil Countryman and John William Barry meet as teens on the running track. John William comes from Seattle’s old money and founding families, Neil is from the other side of the tracks. They develop a love of the outdoors, which for John William results in him becoming, for a time, the Hermit of the Hof.
A novel that I find my brain returns to ponder periodically.
When I was small, my dad used to disappear up into the room in the roof of our suburban Silhillian home to use this sewing machine.
I’ve no idea where it came from, but one of my earliest memories is my dad making me a royal blue zip fronted tunic, which I wore on my first day at Greswold Infants School (even if I did hanker after a pleated skirt with shoulder straps like all the other girls had).
It also produced clothes for my Sindy doll – an orange satin evening gown with lace bodice trim was a particular favourite – and, less of a favourite (sorry mum!), a somewhat gaudy pair of dungarees for me. And, once my dad had taught a young me how to use the treadle, to thread up the machine and to wind fresh cotton onto the bobbins, I made a whole array of clothes – a black and white polka dot shift dress I wore one Sixth Form summer channelling Audrey Hepburn, two ball gowns for my first couple of years at St Andrews.
When dad moved to Herefordshire, the sewing machine moved in with me.
I’ve never known much about it, and as I am at long last contemplating passing it on to a new owner I thought I’d see what I could find out.
With Singer Manufacturing Company Ltd painted onto the top, emblazoned on a shield sporting shuttle and needles, and twice on the treadle base, it was clearly a Singer sewing machine, each of which has a unique serial number. My machine is F509343.
Googling Singer sewing machine series F led me to two excellent websites:
The sewing machine is beautifully decorated with the “Victorian” (rectangular bed) decal. The faceplate is embossed with the “grapevine” pattern with two corner dots. The stitch plate is circular, nickel or chrome plated (I can’t tell which), covering the feed dogs with 2 split slide plates that run from front to back of the machine to cover the vibrating shuttle mechanism.
The sewing machine cabinet has an extension leaf table work surface, suspended drawers on either side and a small drawer in the middle for storing cotton reels, patterns, scissors, etc and my three spare bobbins, plus a cover – making it Extension Leaf Table Cabinet No. 126. Although now painted white, the woodwork is usually oak.
The sewing machine stands on an ornate cast iron base housing the treadle and flywheel that power the needle.
It’s really a piece of furniture in its own right, measuring:
100cm high, from the top of the cabinet cover to the floor
90cm wide, from the folded edge of the extension leaf on the left to the edge of the table by the wheel on the right
48cm deep, from one side of the front castor wheels to the other side of the rear ones.
Except that the Scots men and women who made my sewing machine would have been measuring in feet and inches, so let me try that again:
40 inches high
35 ½ inches wide
19 inches deep.
It’s a gorgeous piece of machinery.
Email me if you want it.
You’ll just need to collect it from the City of London.