Dearest Jane ...: My Father's Life and Letters
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As the eldest daughter of a prolific letter writer, Jane Torday received hundreds of letters from her father over the years. From irreverent advice and hilarious family anecdotes to moments of great poignancy, Roger Mortimer's missives are a touching and witty portrait of his life and relationships over the years. Dearest Jane begins with Roger's time as a young army officer in Egypt, and then as a POW in the Second World War, where his sense of humour endured despite the conditions. Jane accompanies her father's letters with her own memories and anecdotes, as we meet familiar characters such as Nidnod, Lupin and Lumpy, and learn more about the extended family, friends and pets who leap from the pages of his letters. This is an arresting and extraordinary record, not only of Roger Mortimer's life but also of the history of an entire family between 1960 and 1991. Sparkling with the dry wit for which Mortimer's letters are famous, and accompanied by an affectionate personal portrait, this book will delight both old and new readers.
If anyone else says of Charlie ‘Of course he’s very young’, I shall lie on my back and drum my heels (Lilley and Skinners mock suede recreationals) on what is left of the carpet bought in 1951 from a sale at Aldershot Co-op. He is typical of his generation of Etonians. I think they would have greeted Hitler’s SS divisions with garlands of marigolds. Budds Farm 9 March [1970s] Charlie and I have had a very peaceful time together, but beyond saying ‘Hullo Bootface’ whenever he sees me, his
while small children literally crawled underneath him and every sort of friendly liberty was taken? In the Raceform Handicap Book of 1989, my father wrote of a touching relationship between a horse, her stable lad – and a cat. Kincsem was a Hungarian mare, foaled in 1874, who won the Goodwood Cup. The nature of her life as a professional racehorse demanded much journeying by train and, for comforting companionship, she travelled with a cat. Provided she was accompanied by her stable lad,
(the blind leading the blind), on cooking, even on children. Why not combine cooking and children and go flat out for the cannibal market? The next thing I suppose will be to learn of you playing water-polo for Morpeth Mermaids. I was offered the Sunday Times gardening column in 1953 but refused on the grounds of absolute ignorance. I have been doing a frantic morning’s gardening; my plants look unhealthy and I feel ditto. Love, xx D When that book – An Idiot’s Introduction to Gardening –
cold house, a cold lunch and a glass of cooking sherry. Your poor Great Aunt Pips who was staying looked as if she was suffering from exposure and frostbite, although she is far more like 60 than 86. She does, however, experience difficulty in picking up the drift of your mother’s conversation. The Gloomings Sunday, February [mid 1970s] Your Great Aunt Pips has done a Lazarus in respect of her pneumonia and left for home in her Toyota at about 95 mph. Budds Farm 8 April [1970s] Two people I
Ballynure which was once a second home to me. Courage was the virtue she admired and was luckily not short of that commodity herself. Her son was killed in the war. Her daughter, whom she adored, was carried home dead on Christmas Eve after a hunting accident. Her two sons-in-law died slowly and painfully before they were fifty. Nevertheless she never gave in, and two days before she died, riddled with cancer, she was following hounds in a car. Best love to you all, D Star’s elder grandson,