EVELYN AND ALASTAIR'S GRAND TOUR
THE WILLOWDALE HANDCAR APPROPRIATED
It wasn't planned that Evelyn Waugh should spend August, 1926, touring the north of Britain with his one-time lover and still close friend Alastair Graham, but that's what happened.
Following the end of summer term at Aston Clinton, Evelyn noted in his diary: 'On my own invitation, upon some slight encouragement from Alastair, I am going to Scotland next week with Mrs G.' Evelyn also noted that Alastair's mother wasn't happy with the arrangement. While Evelyn reckoned he was going to enjoy it. Evelyn and Alastair had always enjoyed each other's company.
Illustration credits - see note 1.
TUESDAY, AUGUST 3.
The intrepid three set off from Barford House in Warwickshire with Alastair driving. Mrs Graham raged a good deal to begin with, and at every crossroads convinced herself that Alastair had gone the wrong way. They lunched on bread and chicken at the side of the road and got to Carlisle at 5pm, which isn't bad going as that's about 200 miles north of Barford. I would guess that Mrs G sat in the front of the car beside her son while Evelyn was in the back, taking note of everything. But let's keep an open mind on the set up.
In Carlisle, the party split up for two nights. Alastair and Mrs G were staying with Sir Richard Graham, Sir Richard being the brother of Alastair's father and also Mrs G's brother-in-law. Evelyn describes his house as small and ugly and full of enormous oil portraits and a stuffed badger. It's redeeming feature being a very regal toilet.
A family called the Fishers sent a car to pick up Evelyn...
...and bring him to Higham Hall by Bassenthwaite Lake in the Lake District. This turned out to be a Gothic house with turrets and castellations, as it still is...
...and as Evelyn reported, there was/is: 'a perfectly lovely view across the lake to a mountain called Skiddaw.'
According to Evelyn there was plenty to drink at dinner and no nonsense about 'joining the ladies'. He noted that there were quite a few strange-looking women, mostly called 'Aunt Effie'. After dinner those ladies didn't appear again. Evelyn and the male Fishers went to the library where they smoked cigars and drank whisky.
Who were these people? Evelyn dropped a clue when he wrote: 'there is a young brother rather like Allan'. I think Evelyn was there to visit an Allan Fisher who he either knew from Oxford or Aston Clinton, and that the household was overseen by Mr Fisher, Allan's father.
WEDNESDAY, AUGUST 4
Evelyn enjoyed a prodigious breakfast at 7am and went out with the household to hunt an otter. Mr Fisher wore flannel plus-fours with brass buttons and a pink collar. All the men, including Evelyn, were armed with long spiked sticks, while the women carried cameras. They met the dogs on a bridge and the hunt started. Two men played important roles, a very fat old man and a young one called Jack who had a trumpet and a whip. The huntsmen walked along the River Derwent for some time before the dogs started to make noises like sea-lions and all the men ran into the river except the fat man who danced on the bank shouting: 'put the terriers in'. Jack tried to dig a hole, not helped by the dogs who kicked the earth back in again as quickly as it came out. Nothing came of this digging business and so everyone tramped on. Eventually there was another volley of sea-lion barking and Jack danced about in the water so deep that only the tip of his trumpet appeared. An otter was caught, to the general delight of the ladies who took pictures and were rewarded with as much otter meat as the dogs.
I wonder if Evelyn got a chance to tell Mr Fisher that one of his favourite books was Wind in the Willows which he'd read aloud to two pupils the previous term. And that his admiration for Mole, Rat, Mr Toad, Mr Badger, Otter and Portly, as well as their creator, the gentle Kenneth Grahame, knew no bounds.
After lunch Evelyn was taken for a drive with Mr Fisher and Aunt Effie and a brother of Allan's. They saw a lot of lakes and a seat where Wordsworth once wrote poetry and a lake with piers and jetties that was called 'Windermere'. A Lake District translation of Wind in the Willows?
In the afternoon, there was a game of tennis. Evelyn observed that Allan and Mr Fisher were both worse players than himself. The day ended with dinner, cigars and bed. I can't help wondering if Evelyn endeared himself to the party. Neither Allan Fisher nor the Fishers of Higham Hall are mentioned again in his diaries or letters, and it may be that they found his irony and cynicism trying. ("Put the weasels in," indeed.) Alternatively, Evelyn, finding the family and its activities gruesome, may simply have dropped them.
THURSDAY, AUGUST 5
The next morning Evelyn was driven into Carlisle at the needlessly early time of 9 o'clock at Mrs G's insistence. Evelyn got to meet Sir Richard Graham for a few minutes and found Alastair's uncle to be a dear old man. The drive was 'fairly tumultuous', Mrs G spreading a map upside down over her knee and railing at Alastair for driving in the wrong direction.
They stopped at Netherby Hall, which is a fine house ten miles north of Carlisle on the River Esk.
They didn't go into the house itself, which Alastair and Mrs G would have known well. It was owned and occupied by several of the Grahams of Netherby, Alastair's close relatives. After Hugh and Jessie (Mrs G) married, they lived in rented accommodation until they bought Barford House in 1917, when Alastair was 13. So Netherby Hall no doubt occupied an important role in Alastair's notion of home. Indeed, the situation reminds me of the exchange between Sebastian and Charles in Brideshead Revisited when Charles is first taken to see Brideshead Castle:
"What a place to live in!"
"It's where my family live. Don't worry they're all away. You won't have to meet them."
"But I would like to."
"Well, you can't. They're in London, dancing."
In his diary, Evelyn reported: 'We stopped at Netherby to call on a Lady Cynthia Graham in her new grave and met a one-legged sexton whom Alastair's father used to bang on the head.' Lady Cynthia had been the wife of Sir Richard Graham and so had been Alastair's aunt.
Evelyn, Alastair and Mrs G would seem to have walked past the house and crossed the river. Evelyn mentions seeing some eels from a bridge. Across the bridge is the church which is surrounded by gravestones, which you can faintly see in the top left corner of the aerial shot below.
So now we have our intrepid threesome roving the graveyard on the look-out for Graham graves.
Alastair's father was Hugh Graham (1860-1921) and he was brought up in Netherby Hall. Hugh was one of eight children of Sir Frederick Graham, the third baronet of Netherby. Sir Richard, Hugh's older brother, was the 4th baronet, so I'm not sure what he was doing living in a small house in Carlisle with lots of oil paintings, a stuffed badger and a regal toilet. Perhaps because he had lost his wife (the recently deceased Lady Cynthia) and had given up the Hall to the next generation of Graham.
Sir Richard died in 1930 and so his name will now be etched onto the stone below that of Lady Cynthia's. The 5th and the 6th baronets have also gone the way of all flesh by the time I sit writing this in the third week of October, 2015. How do I know? Because I've come across this photo taken in that same Kirkandrews-upon-Esk churchyard.
Frederick Graham (see the stone behind the one in the foreground), the 5th baronet, would have been Alastair's nephew. And Charles Graham, the 6th baronet, would have been his great nephew. Charles would have been seven-years-old back in August 1926. Would he have been dancing in London during Alastair and Evelyn's visit to Netherby? Presumably not. Some nanny would have been looking after him (name of Hawkins?). That seven-year-old would go on to meet and marry Susan, three years his elder. And she would live until she was 90. But no longer. By which I mean she died in 2012, not quite linking Evelyn and Alastair's time to the present day.
I wonder if either Evelyn or Alastair managed to quote from another of their favourite books, A Cypress Grove, written in 1623 by William Drummond of Hawthornden. Evelyn had invoked the title when he'd been working on his manuscript The Temple at Thatch, which had been written and destroyed in 1925. Here is the quote that contains the 'fabulous Paladins' phrase that Evelyn noted in his diary.
'Death is the sad estranger of acquaintance, the eternal divorcer of marriage, the ravisher of the children from their parents, the stealer of parents from their children, the interrer of fame, the sole cause of forgetfulness, by which the living talk of those gone away as of so many shadows, or fabulous Paladins.'
While in the grounds of Netherby Hall, Alastair showed Evelyn 'a charming tower' where Alastair intended to live. That could have meant the clock tower adjacent to the Hall itself.
Or it might have meant this cute little tower house not far from the church of the fabulous Paladins and the bridge of eels
On their way again, perhaps Alastair asked Evelyn about the otter hunt.
"You say an Aunt Effie was in at the kill?"
"There were several Aunt Effie's in at the kill. The aunts were more ferocious than the terriers."
"That's always the case according to P.G. Wodehouse."
"Would you two stop talking dribble and mind the road? We don't want to miss Preston Hall."
Preston Hall was owned 'by some people called Callander'. Our mismatched threesome got there far too early, despite Alastair's wanderings. However, Evelyn found it a 'perfectly charming' house, noting that it was built and decorated by the Adams.
Mrs Callander reminded Evelyn of Lady Quiller Couch in the way she dressed, while her daughter, Ruth, looked like Princess Mary.
Ruth took them to an octagonal tower which was furnished like a curiosity shop and talked about Greece to her visitors.
Evelyn then enjoyed walking round the park. At dinner there wasn't much to drink, the Callanders being teetotallers who lived mostly on fruit. After dinner, the talk was of Greece again until 10, after which papers were read for half an hour then candles taken to bed.
FRIDAY, AUGUST 6
In the morning, before breakfast, Greece was discussed for an hour. Why the exclusive focus on Greece? Well, perhaps the detailing of the house encouraged such an obsession. This view from the bottom of the stairs at Preston Hall captures plenty of white marble in the form of pillars and statues.
At least Alastair had been to Greece. Duncan Fallowell in his fascinating book How to Disappear, a memoir for misfits, quotes from a letter that Alastair had sent to his cousin, Claud Cockburn, from Athens in May of that year, 1926. The letter describes how Alastair was sitting in a deck-chair in a hole in the garden under a honeysuckle bush. He'd had nothing to eat for a week except a sheep which had been kept in the bathroom until being sacrificed according to the Orthodox rite. Alastair was spending all his time with his friend's friends who were from Constantinople, 'homosexual nymphomaniacs', most of them mad with homesickness.
At this time in his life, Evelyn had not been to Greece, though he would join Alastair there later in the year. However, I dare say that he was not left out of the conversation: "I once took part in an otter hunt on the slopes of the Acropolis. By the end of the day the blood-spattered corpse was frying on the white marble floor of the Parthenon. A fat man who went by the name of Aristotle presided over the whole operation. Isn't that right, Alastair?"
Perhaps to avoid the strain of too much small talk about Greece, that morning Alastair and Evelyn drove to Edinburgh which Evelyn again found to be 'perfectly charming', noting that it was built on two sides of a valley with a railway down the middle. He noted the castle and some steep and ancient slums on one side of the valley, and Princes Street on the other. Ah, the Athens of the north! Evelyn bought some Edinburgh rock for one of his favourite pupils at Aston Clinton. He also bought a band for his hat and a long shepherd's crook. Alastair bought Evelyn a whin stick covered in bunions with a top shaped like a skull, which Evelyn liked very much. With his two sticks, Evelyn accompanied Alastair to several public houses. They finished off at the National Gallery, which contained mostly Raeburns, according to Evelyn. They met a tiny girl who talked to them in Esperanto. Would that be a dry joke about the local dialect? I suspect so.
On their return to Preston Hall, it was raining heavily, On hearing that the ladies were in the garden, Evelyn and Alastair ran out into the rain towards the octagonal tower laden with umbrellas. Unfortunately the butler had already thought of that and had arrived before them. There was (and is) just no getting the better of Jeeves.
Back to the house for dinner, talk of Greece until 10, the papers for half an hour, then with a candle - wax symbol of classical column? - to bed.
SATURDAY, AUGUST 7
Alastair, Evelyn and Mrs G resumed their travels. They went across a ferry near the Forth Rail Bridge and drove north. They called in at a house called Tannadice to see a lady. According to Evelyn's diary, she had a thick beard, a bald dog, a drunken husband and a paederastic son. Next stop was Muchalls not far south of Aberdeen where Alastair's old nurse lived. They stayed in a teetotal public house which had once been a castle and which was full of 'nasty little boys and girls'.
SUNDAY, AUGUST 8
Evelyn, Alastair and Mrs G lunched on cheese and chocolate in the car and took Alastair's nurse for a drive and ate tea with her in her cottage.
This grand tour of Scotland is mentioned in a paragraph in Martin Stannard's biography of Evelyn Waugh. 'It provided experience which he was later to use in his war trilogy and Brideshead Revisited (1945) - details of Scottish country house life and a visit to Alastair's old nurse.'
So that's two details (first glimpse of Alastair's 'home' and special effort made to meet his nanny) that fed into the writing of Brideshead.
MONDAY, AUGUST 9
After loading the car they waited a long time for the postman but there was no mail for them. At Stonehaven, Alastair took a wrong turn and while climbing up a hill they shouldn't have been climbing the engine overheated. Mrs G was furious. Nevertheless at 4pm they reached Strathdon.
Where is Strathdon? Well, it's in the Cairngorms a few miles north of Ballater. It's also faitly close to Aviemore, Braemar and Balmoral. But it's high time I included a map to show how Alastair, Evelyn and Mrs G had progressed up the country. So far, each step had taken them further north from their starting point of Barford in the MIdlands of England.
For Evelyn there had been two nights spent with the Fishers at Higham Hall, two nights at Preston Hall and two nights at Muchalls. I've also marked Netherby Hall (3rd tack up from the foot of map), though that didn't involve an overnight stop.
Six nights down, nine to go. But don't panic because very soon the fun starts.
They went first to call on the Forbes. The family was living in what used to be their laundry house. A curious home, according to Evelyn - absurdly baronial, carpeted and curtained in tartan, and hung with weaponry. After having introduced themselves, Mrs G went to stay with a 'negro doctor' and Alastair and Evelyn went to lodge in the Newe Arms, a public house which Evelyn thought was much nicer than anyone had said it would be. I dare say that meant Alastair and Evelyn enjoyed a few drinks together that evening, away from the disapproving eye of Mrs G.
Alastair: "I didn't expect things to boil over on that hill."
Evelyn: "How much did it take to cool down the old charger?"
Alastair: "One hip-flask of whisky. Same again?"
TUESDAY, AUGUST 10
The day began with Evelyn and Alastair having to wash the car under Mrs G's orders. A disagreeable undertaking involving brushes, sponges, a length of hose and a good deal of colourful language from Mrs G.
Mrs G: "Just the thing for brushing away the cobwebs of a hangover. Eh, boys?"
Lunch was at the Forbes idiosyncratic house. Evelyn wrote in his diary that Lady Forbes (Emma) was dull and had a sister who was stone deaf. He came to the conclusion that Sir Charles Forbes was a futile little man, just the sort of person one would expect to lose his inheritance. This was a reference to the fact that Castle Newe, where the Forbes had lived for generations, had been abandoned on the grounds of the cost of its upkeep. Evelyn was scathing about Sir Charles's activities as an inventor of three-cornered loudspeakers and an apparatus for striking matches.
Michael Davie, the editor of The Diaries of Evelyn Waugh must have brought this diary entry to the attention of Alastair Graham. For in 1975 Alastair wrote back to tell him that the Forbeses of Newe were his cousins by marriage. Alastair added that he was devoted to both his uncle Charles and his wife. When Evelyn described him as 'a futile little man', Sir Charles was on his deathbed and died a month or two later. In fact, according to Alastair, he was a brilliantly clever little man, bright and gay, and one of the most charming and generous persons he had ever known. 'There had always been large house parties at Castle Newe, and it was the generosity of Sir Charles and the First World War that finally ruined him. The Castle had to be abandoned and finally demolished [in 1927]. It was not far from Balmoral and every year the King and Queen would come to a function or a meal.'
After lunch, the Forbes' girls, who Evelyn found to be nicer than he had thought them in London, took their visitors down to see the castle.
Evelyn found the garden entirely run to seed in the two years it had been abandoned, and the house vastly dismal. They went to the top of the tower (at 85 feet, 5 feet higher than the tower at Balmoral) and walked down some echoing corridors and came out feeling rather chilled.
In a busy day, they went on to tea at a house called Candacraig which Sir Charles Forbes had sold to Faulkner Wallace, an extremely rich man. More recently, from 1998 to 2014, this house was owned by the comedian Billy Connolly.
Evelyn described Faulkner Wallace's wife as extremely odd - very tall and misshapen with jet-black shingled hair and wrinkles. Mrs FW didn't like Scots people or poor people. She danced the Charleston while playing tennis - 'both so badly'. Candacraig House was furnished with the treasure of many other houses. It contained excellent panelling and furniture plus a lot of 'arty trash' which Mrs FW thought modern.
Dinner was back in the House of Newe, as the old converted laundry was called now that Castle Newe had been abandoned. Sir Charles was in bed, so he wasn't dining with his guests. Kitty Forbes, one of Sir Charles and Lady Emma's daughters had to sing at a mothers' meeting so Alastair and Evelyn took her there in the car. After the meeting was over, Alastair and Evelyn danced Highland reels, presumably with some of the Forbes' girls.
WEDNESDAY, AUGUST 11
Alastair and Evelyn didn't feel they could face Mrs G so they went out for a longish walk on the hills with sandwiches. It rained most of the day. They were probably walking in the Newe estate since Evelyn mentions in his diary that the cottages were empty, with windows broken and roofs fallen in.
Perhaps Evelyn and Alastair managed to talk as they walked together in the rain.
"Did you say there were seven of those Forbes girls altogether?"
"Two died in infancy. One in her twenties. One is married. And the three we were dancing with last night are all single."
"And on the lookout for eligible young men?"
"Oh dear, yes."
THURSDAY, AUGUST 12
The grouse season started much to everyone's excitement. The car had to be cleaned again in the morning and Evelyn, ignoring the grouse hysteria, did some work on a poster he'd committed himself to. It was a huge sheet of board that he had to cover with poster paint. He tried to draw a monk but that turned out wrong. Hideously wrong.
In the afternoon, Evelyn, Alastair and Mrs G went to call on some people called Farquarson who lived at a house called Allargue, which was claimed to be the highest home in the United Kingdom.
Alastair briefed Evelyn as they drove uphill. "Robert Farquarson of Allargue married Elspet Anderson of Candacraig House and their son was John Farquarson of Allargue."
"When did this happen?"
FRIDAY, AUGUST 13
The Lonach Games! Let the phrase resonate with due prominence.
In the Newe Arms, locals had been telling Evelyn and Alastair that the games were not what they had been now that the Forbes had left the castle. The games had always begun with the march of the Highlanders. Originally, the laird had marched right down the strath collecting his men, stopping for drinks at every house, and leading them back to Castle Newe for luncheon. This year, Sir Charles was not even turning out, but, as Evelyn recorded, contented himself by remaining at House of Newe fingering an enormous Cairngorm (dagger) and saying: "I daresay Mr Faulkner Wallace would like to be wearing this today".
I think a map is required at this stage, showing various key locations. The march of the Highlanders, marked with a black wavy line, was from east to west.
Evelyn tells us that about a dozen highlanders did march from the Lonach Village Hall to the Bellabeg paddock, all of them over 50 and most of them over 80 years old. They trailed spears behind them and shuffled along in a depressed sort of way. All the young men who had not emigrated preferred to wear ill-fitting serge suits rather than the kilt and had nothing to do with the march.
The games lasted a long time. There was a lot of piping and dancing, notably by children covered in medals. The competitors in open events were professionals from Aberdeen who made a living going from games to games. Evelyn watched plenty of tossing the caber but didn't see anyone succeed in getting it over. The son of the Faulkner Wallaces together with Evelyn and Alastair had entered the obstacle race, but when the time came they didn't compete. I can imagine that refreshing themselves at the Newe Arms took priority. Indeed, I wonder if the day wasn't just a bit like the August day three years later when Evelyn and Alastair were at the road race in Belfast, a delightfully decadent and drunken afternoon at a public event which Waugh almost immediately turned into chapter ten of Vile Bodies, Evelyn and Alastair being Adam Fenwick-Symes and Miles Malpractice, respectively.
Evelyn, Alastair and Mrs G dined with the Forbes and went afterwards to the Lonach Ball at Lonach Hall (next to the pub). There, Evelyn danced some of the reels he had learned but found it terribly hot. Drinking copious amounts of alcohol does lead to dehydration and the reddening of the face. Evelyn was not the only one struggling. Mrs Faulkner Wallace lay swathed in tartan on a chaise lounge with an enormous man called Lumsden of Balmedie to carry her about. What was wrong with her? She had sprained her ankle in doing the Charleston on the tennis court at Candacraig. Of course, Lumsden of Strathdrummond is the name of the drunk who sways like a druidical rocking-stone in front of Paul Pennyfeather at the beginning of Decline and Fall. So no way was Evelyn wasting his time at the Lonach Ball.
Towards the end of the Ball, I expect Evelyn and Alastair quashed their thirst at the Newe Arms. If so, their conversation may have gone like this:
"Good news for you, Alastair, all the eligible Forbes girls have been made ineligible by Lumsden of Strathdon."
"Bad news for you, Evelyn. Kitty Forbes likes a red-faced man."
"Bad new for Sir Charles, Alastair. The result of the tug of war between the men of Candacraig (clear winners) and the Forbes of Newe (abject losers) is that the castle has to be demolished before next year's games."
"Good news for Sir Charles, Evelyn, the Fishers of Higham have agreed to attend next year's games, adding twenty feisty young spears and otter sporrans to the march of the Highlanders."
"Bad news for you, Alastair. Your mother has brought in multiple Aunt Effies in order to help get you hitched to one of the Fisher girls."
"Bad news for you, Evelyn, it's your round."
"Good news for me, Alastair. Mrs Faulkner Wallace has intimated that she would like to pay me a visit at Aston Clinton once her ankle has heeled."
"How in God's name can that be understood to be good news for you?"
"The wheel turns, Alastair, the wheel turns."
SATURDAY, AUGUST 14
A quiet day of reflection. I dare say that Evelyn, Alastair and Mrs G wrote postcards home.
Alastair was careful not to show to Evelyn his copy of the one available postcard, which was based on a photograph taken twenty years before, when the clan gathering and the march of the highlanders had been more impressive:
And Evelyn was careful not to show his copy of the postcard to Mrs Graham:
In the afternoon, Evelyn, Alastair and Mrs G called on a woman called Lady Annabel Dodds, Alastair's cousin. A life-changing meeting? Evelyn does not suggest as much. No doubt they told her all about the 1926 Lonach Games. Actually, she'd probably been in attendance, it being the social event of the glen's year.
SUNDAY, AUGUST 15
Alastair and Evelyn went to Braemar. They were in search of a man called James Alexander Watson, a Welsh usher, but found that his house did not exist.
They lunched in the town. I dare say the conversation still dwelt on what they'd seen and heard on the bonny, bonny braes of Strathdon.
MONDAY, AUGUST 16
Time to head back, if in several stages. Alas, it was raining all Monday, and a hateful drive, Alastair and Mrs G being particularly unpleasant to each other. They reached the hotel they were staying at in Killin. They walked in the rain to see some tweed mills which were shut. A melancholy experience to end an unedifying day.
TUESDAY, AUGUST 17
They drove south and west and stayed with a woman called Cicely MacLellan at a house near Glasgow. She had been called Cicely Hicks-Beach in her youth and was as 'morbidly snobbish as only a woman who has married beneath her can be'. The house was full of plaster decorations that she'd made herself in the Italian style.
WEDNESDAY, AUGUST 18
They went for a long drive in the rain the next day as a birthday treat for one of her children.
THURSDAY, AUGUST 19
On a day of much driving, they stopped to have lunch with Sir Richard Graham and his sister, Vitie, the Duchess of Montrose. What did Alastair have to say to his aunt and uncle? Well, no doubt he told them about their relations, the Forbes. How they might be short of a castle these days but that the show went on, with Sir Charles Forbes still clinging on to his place at the head of the clan. Evelyn either contradicted Alastair's fairytale or was too polite to.
They reached York, which Evelyn thought lovely. They passed through two hotels before finding one that would meet their needs - Mrs G drinking throughout, Evelyn thought, and in a furious rage the whole time. Evelyn observed that there were more prostitutes in York than he'd ever seen anywhere else. He also saw York Minster by evening, which was splendid.
FRIDAY, AUGUST 20
Evelyn attended communion at the cathedral, which he thought lost something by daylight.
Mrs G was in a furious temper all the way from York to Barford and was intolerably rude to both Alastair, who provoked her, and Evelyn who claimed he did not. Back in Barford House, she proceeded to violently attack Evelyn for having been rude to her all through the expedition. This led to Evelyn resolving, in his diary, never to visit her again.
Why all the rage spilling forth from Mrs G? Perhaps the penny had dropped that her son was not going to settle down with a nice girl, Forbes or otherwise. Alastair was gay and several of the things that Evelyn and Alastair had said or done had alluded to this fact. Her beloved son was heading back to his new life in the Levant with all speed.
Alastair's interest in genealogy was ironic, in that he would not be adding to the family line. Alastair's interest in genealogy may even have been brought to an end by the August 1926 expedition. I suspect he never returned again to Netherby Hall or Strathdon.
Perhaps this is all put more poetically by Edward Gorey, whose caption under the final drawing in The Willowdale Handcar reads: 'At sunset they entered a tunnel in the Iron Hills. They did not come out the other end.'
1) The drawings used in the above text are by Edward Gorey, from his book The Willowdale Handcar. Although the book was written in the United States in 1962 it conjures up an Edwardian Britain that seems apt for the mood of Evelyn Waugh and Alastair Graham's summer holiday in August, 1926. I have not asked for permission to reproduce the drawings. I just hope that by treating them with appreciation and respect, as I trust I have done, the copyright holders will tolerate my use of them. In 2004 Bloomsbury did a new edition of The Willowdale Handcar, in hardback, and I hope interested readers will seek it out. Bloomsbury Books in the UK, and Pomegranate Books in the United States, have recently done Edward Gorey's unique work and posthumous reputation proud.
2) I'm tempted to go on an Alastair and Evelyn grand tour, perhaps with a couple of chums. I'm ideally located for it with Netherby Hall being three hours' drive to the south of where I live, and Strathdon little more than an hour's drive to the north. And if that happens this piece will be updated. The Newe Arms has been renamed the Colquonnie Arms and the annual march of the Highlanders at the start of the Lonach Games is back to being a big deal. Whether that's down to Billy Connolly, the 2014 Independence Referendum or the Fishers of Higham, I wouldn't like to say.