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Monday, 11 August 2008

THE CLAPHAM OMNIBUS

Somewhat unfairly, it's not a phrase generally associated with my good self: 'the Reasonable Man on the Clapham Omnibus.'

After a morning of pouring rain outside the cottage in Austwick, cantering through Alan Bennett's "The Uncommon Reader," I was to be found with Lynnie in the cafe in Clapham, wading through platefuls of scones with butter, jam & cream and a pot of strong Yorkshire tea. We had arrived there in the afternoon by strolling along a quiet well paved bridleway slightly above the valley floor with misty, mystery views up towards Ingleborough and down over the neat and tidy walled patches of emerald in the valley to our left. It had rained pretty consistently all the way over on the stroll to Clapham. It's a pretty little stone village, unusually quiet on a wet Summer Saturday and the little river was belting alongside the walk down to the cafe.

I have been assured that the author of my morning's reading material has a home in Clapham. Mr Bennett is a literary gentleman with a good eye and is a keen definer of characters. The 'uncommon reader' (a nice play on words, I thought) in the book was none other than 'Er Madge' and the book told of her very late discovery of the written word and the pure, sometimes 'selfish,' pleasure, of escaping into a good book and then going on to discovering further great escapes.

If you haven't read it I won't spoil it for you by giving any more of the plot away apart from the fact that after a while of burying herself in her world of books she started thinking about writing herself.

The way back through the pastures, clambering over the walled stiles, back to Austwick, was walked with the breeze behind; so no hats were required. It was a tiddler of a walk but quite splendid all the same with the A65 muted to almost a whisper by the damp air and low cloud.

Apparently, if you bump into Mr Bennett in the area he is always very willing to sign copies of his books. Indeed the Odd Job Lady's own copy had been very caringly signed with a little message for her. The locals leave him be and respect his privacy and he enjoys the quiet life.

Clapham: A reasonable place to escape to, even on a wet weekend.

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