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Greetings, my fellow port swillers!

Ol’ Robbo has, from time to time, spoken here of his fondness for the three sets of short stories of E.E. Somerville and Martin Ross known collectively as “The Irish RM”.  They are first-person accounts of the adventures of Anglo-Irish Major Sinclair Yates in his role as Resident Magistrate in the southwest of Ireland round about the turn of the 20th Century.  In Ol’ Robbo’s humble opinion, they are comic masterpieces.  (They are also said to have been some of Queen Victoria’s favorite travel reading.)

Ol’ Robbo first became acquainted with these stories back in the mid 80’s, when his then-girlfriend gave him a copy of a newly-printed paperback collected edition that came out in conjunction with a teevee dramatization of them by the Beeb, starring the great Peter Bowles as Major Yates.  (I will say nothing here about the teevee series except to reiterate my firmly-held belief that one cannot really successfully dramatize a first-person narrative because the value is not just in the story itself, but also in how the speaker tells it.  (See also Wooster, Bertie.)

Anyhoo, I picked up the book again this week.  The cover has long since fallen away, the spine is broken, and chunks of pages are now coming loose.  Nipping over to the devil’s website, I found that new copies of this same edition are now available where they had not been before.  The only trouble?  They cost fifty bucks a throw.

I gulped a bit, but eventually hit the “place order” button.  Yes, I’m that much of a fan.

Incidentally, I’ve also been doing a bit of detective work this week.  The fictional town closest to Shreelane, Major Yates’ house in the books, is called Skebawn.  I’m reasonably certain, based on various geographical clues let drop here and there, that it is modeled on the actual town of Skibbereen, County Cork.  One of Ol’ Robbo’s once-I-retire-and-have-the-time projects will be to try and further suss out other connections between Somerville and Ross’s fictional settings and actual ones.

Anyway, if you haven’t read these stories, I heartily recommend them.



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November 2017