Reviews

‘Christine Poulson’s wonderful sense of place brings Cambridge to life. Cassie overcomes the problems facing her with wit and guile aplenty and ensures the reader’s empathy from first word to last . . . an enthralling and engaging read that underlines Christine’s burgeoning reputation as a crime novelist to watch.’ [Stage Fright]

- SHOTS MAGAZINE

Chagrin in Lichfield

Posted on Jun 30, 2014 in Lichfield, Time Was, W. Graham Robertson | No Comments

Last week-end I was at a course at Woodbrooke Quaker Study Centre. It’s always nostalgic being back in Birmingham. I went there at the age of twenty-two to do an MA on Pre-Raphaelite illustration of Shakespeare’s plays and spent the rest of my twenties there. My mother moved there around the same time and stayed for thirteeen years, so I always think of her there. Birmingham’s a fine city, and it is also a good place for day trips to Oxford, Stratford, and other places well worth a visit.
One trip that sticks in my mind was a day out in Lichfield. It was May 1980 (I explain how I know this later on) and the Birmingham branch of the Victorian Society had arranged to see some Victorian silver plate – I think – belonging to the cathedral. I was in two minds whether to go as I wasn’t feeling very well, but in the end I decided that the day out would do me good. I caught the bus into town and then the train out to Lichfield.
I was the only person to show up. Actually that is not quite true. After perhaps quarter of an hour someone else turned up, but not before I had sensed the discomfiture of the poor man who had given up his afternoon for this event and suffered agonies of embarrassment myself. Some years later I worked for the Victorian Society and events were well organised and attended by then. But the intensity of my embarrassment that day burned it into my memory.
And how do I know it was May 1980? At some point I browsed the second-hand bookshops and was delighted to find a copy of Time Was, the reminiscences (as it says on the title-page) of W. Graham Robertson for £1.75. It was a real find. Robertson was a late Victorian man about town, the friend of many artists, writers and actors. It’s a charming memoir full of anecdotes and was an essential source for the Ph.D that I’d then begun. In it I wrote my name and ‘May 1980 Lichfield.’ It’s open on the desk beside me as I write.
Incidentally you don’t have to be a Quaker to stay at the Study Centre – or be studying either – as it offers great value B & B to anyone and is a lovely place set in ten acres of garden and woodland. I can’t recommend it highly enough.