Wednesday, 11 May 2016

Another Attenborough


I stood next to that David Attenborough in a Leicester pub back in the 80s. He had a pint of Bass and a curry in a bowl, just like me. But this isn't about him (Happy Birthday), but his dad, Frederick Attenborough, who was once Principal of the University College in Leicester from 1932-1951. One of his mates was the Reader in English Local History, W.G.Hoskins. In the late 1940s the latter wrote two brilliant little books, Touring Leicestershire, and Rutland. Both were photographed by Frederick, and son David remembers helping out by trying to get cattle in the right places and, as my own children will testify, probably counting down the seconds before the sun emerged from behind a cloud whilst the photographer's eye was pressed up against the viewfinder.

I was reminded of the Rutland book this morning, as I drove down local lanes and noticed the new growths of cow parsley starting, and the about to burgeon hawthorn. I thought of the photograph above, of an old drovers' lane near Empingham, and wanted to share it with you. I was a little surprised, however, to see that Hoskins' caption was 'High Summer near Empingham' when it appears the cow parsley is only just about to invade the verge. No matter, it's an image that always comes to mind at this time of year, and I look forward to wandering these quiet lanes again. Amongst others it was Hoskins who ignited my interest in the English landscape, and in 1995 I obtained permission from his publishers to use sections from his inimitable Shell Guide to Rutland for my first little book Rutland Much In Little.

7 comments:

Ron Combo said...

Now then, would that pub have been The Durham Ox? How many lunchtime sessions did we enjoy there? Closed now I understand. As is The Black Boy where Jim (in comparison with whom Norman from The Coach and Horses had the manners of an Edwardian country vicar) served a fine pint of Bass. A double tragedy. And yet ridiculous cocktail bars with names like Sexxxxx! thrive. O tempora! O mores!

Peter Ashley said...

Indded it was the Durham Ox. You were very likely standing the other side of me, trying to ignore my nudges, winks and nods in DA's direction. The landlord was Graham Cooze, whose dad was the Queen's Head Coachman. Many a happy lunchtime in there eh?

Kay G. said...

How interesting.
Just wondering, did you have a chat with David Attenborough or were you both more interested in the pint and the curry?

Peter Ashley said...

I was very shy and retiring then Kay. Probably just concentrated on getting stuck into my pint whilst glancing furtively at him.

Alan Godber said...

Another of Hoskins' books was The Heritage of Leicestershire, first published 1946 and re-published by the City of Leicester Publicity Dept. Information Bureau, 29 Horsefair St. in 1950. Again, this has 52 superb black and white photographs of houses, bridges, castles, churches and lanes taken by F. L. Attenborough. I've had a copy for so long I don't remember how I acquired it.

Peter Ashley said...

Yes Alan, thank you for reminding me of this. I had a first Edgar Backus edition paperback for years before I realised (and jumped upon) a hardback of the same vintage. I also seem to remember a white paperback with a coloured photograph on the front cover, but this appears to have gone down the same black hole that contains my Cream Disraeli Gears and Wheels of Fire original LPs.

Sue Imgrund said...

Splendid photo - you can feel the sunlight and smell the hawthorn (or the other way around?)