Saturday 29 May 2021

Bank Holiday extra! Guest review by Jonty Driver: ... WITH MRS TUGENDHAT TO THE UNDISCOVERED COUNTRY, by Jim Ring, illustrated by Decca Faire


"poking fun at pretence, pomposity, pusillanimity and various modern institutions and habits"

Jonty Driver has kept himself busy in lockdown working with a local firm, Artwrite of Rye, to produce four booklets of his poems, some illustrated by himself, and a card, The Slave-Bell at Doornhoek, a poem and a painting. The booklets are: Image & Image, some old photographs & a dozen unrhymed sonnets; The Journey Back; The Chinese Poems, 1979-2020; and A Winter’s Day at Westonbirt & other poems. All are available from Artwrite. See more on Jonty's website.

With Mrs Tugendhat to the Undiscovered Country 
is best described as a literary romp. It’s not really satire, though there is a great deal of poking fun at pretence, pomposity, pusillanimity and various modern institutions and habits.

A BOAC flight goes missing (note: BOAC, despite this being 201–). For three months the ‘plane sits undiscovered and out of fuel on an airstrip on a volcanic island (Xanadu, of course) – and the redoubtable Mrs T. comes into her own, as a usually benevolent (in her view) despot.

In the meantime, the Chairman and Director-General of the airline go to Corfu to co-ordinate what they hope will be discovery and recovery. Their chapters are told in the third person. Mts T. tells much of the main story herself; and a young companion, Sisi, supplements the narrative with letters to her father as she sets about to follow his example by making money from the other passengers.

There is a host of characters of various nationalities, some individual, some merely groups; there is a cat called Alexa and a dog called Louis, and a mysterious Control Tower with only a cat-flap by way of entry.

As befits comedies, all’s well that ends well and Mrs T.’s status is confirmed. It’s great fun, with lots of literary and political jokes, not I think intended as edifying or educative: a good holiday read, I’d say, even if I were catching a non-BOAC flight to get there.

With Mrs Tugendhat to the Undiscovered Country is published by WriteSideLeft.

No comments: