Munro bagging

In many ways, I wish this post was about ascending Scottish peaks in the steps of Sir High Munro – but it isn’t.  I do have an ambition to bag a Munro or two, but something has always put me off – not the distance nor the hard-work, but the hideous ubiquity of small biting insects which (I fear) would be all too keen to taste of my virgin blood.  So, sadly, my plans to ascend the Scottish heights is on hold until science (or religion – I’m not fussy) comes up with an effective, idiot-proof defence against the midge.

No, over the past couple of weeks I have been “bagging” the works of Saki, aka H H Munro.  Some months ago, I heard an extended snatch of his short story The Stalled Ox on Radio 4 (where else?) and rather enjoyed it.  Since then, I have been rather ineffectually seeking out more of his work – but recently Southampton library delivered his Complete Short Stories into my hands (well, to be completely honest, I did have to take it off the shelf and carry it home myself).  The stories are from the Edwardian era – Saki himself was killed in 1916 sheltering in a shell crater – and I believe he was a tad reactionary.  Nevertheless, the stories are a joy – somewhat like Wodehouse, but with the brakes off and the bounds of taste and decency run roughshod over.  Many are extremely funny and some very dark and a lot of the themes remain surprisingly current a century (and more) after they were written.  Like PG he has a marvellous turn of phrase – and many of the stories feature an aunt.  I do feel that aunts had a much more pivotal role in the first quarter of the 20th century than they do in the present one, and I suspect this may not be a positive development (for comedy, if nothing else).  There was also a lot more bridge played – another negative effect of our soi-disant progress.

Sadly, I have only a very few short stories remaining and tomorrow the book must return to the welcoming bosom of the city’s central library.  Still, I’ve had more than a fortnight of fun and the next time I am in London I shall hold a mini-pilgrimage to Mortimer Street to check out H H’s blue plaque.  Via this post, I can (perhaps) share the joy of Munro bagging with a small (but select, even “amazing” [sic]) new audience.  Slightly concerned that this may lead to a decline in the morals of the GofaDM readership, but Clovis Sangrail is my new hero…

Feel free to continue the lunacy...

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