Find a book

A Book a Month

We can send a book a month for six or twelve months - the perfect gift. More »

1 October 2017

It is hard to ignore the bigger picture since the political landscape is now so totally wrecked: the truth is time is running out, as Simon Kuper said in the Financial Times. But we all have to continue treading our little furrow because what’s the alternative? Of course some of us can write poetry, thereby showing that some good can come out of conflict. Thirteen-year-old Amineh Abou Kerech


arrived in England a year ago and her school, Oxford Spires, has obviously been absolutely superb a) at teaching her English b) helping her write poetry. Her ‘Lament for Syria’ has just won the Betjeman poetry prize. This is how the poem begins (the rest of it is here):

Syrian doves croon above my head
their call cries in my eyes.
I’m trying to design a country
that will go with my poetry
and not get in the way when I’m thinking,
where soldiers don’t walk over my face.
I’m trying to design a country
which will be worthy of me if I’m ever a poet
and make allowances if I burst into tears.
I’m trying to design a City
of Love, Peace, Concord and Virtue,
free of mess, war, wreckage and misery.

We shall be hearing more of Amineh. But very very sadly someone whom we shall not be hearing from again is Ben Whitrow. He died while in the middle of recording Jonathan Smith‘s two plays about Betjeman for Radio 4. Lydia and the Persephone girls had a very tiny part to play in this (apart from knowing and loving both Ben Whitrow and our author Jonathan Smith) because Lydia sometimes goes on holiday to a house near Trebetherick. The uncovering by the Victorians (they literally dug it out of the sand) of the  church at Trebetherick, St Enodoc, would make a marvellous play or indeed novel we said to Jonathan over a cup of tea in Lamb’s Conduit Street. This did not work out but instead he wrote a two-part play about Betjeman to which we were much looking forward. But can anyone replace Ben Whitrow?

This Friday we are going to the premiere of the new film of Journey’s End by another of our authors, R C Sherriff; and are looking forward to seeing Goodbye Christopher Robin. We had considered reprinting A A Milne’s The Red House Mystery; but somehow couldn’t love it enough. It’s been reissued – beautifully – by The Folio Society; which has also reissued Edward Thomas’s poems with marvellous illustrations by David Gentleman.



On Friday at 11, at Sotheby’s, there is sale of Bauhaus artefacts. How nice it would be to able to the buy the electric kettle! But the estimate is £60,000, which is quite something for a kettle. Details here.


Next weekend an exhibition opens at the William Morris Gallery in Walthamstow of the work of May Morris. Her  Honeysuckle wallpaper design dates from the early 1880s.


Finally, our opening hours have changed: we shall be open from 11-5 on Saturdays (instead of 12-5) and 12-4 on Sundays (which is new).


Nicola Beauman

59 Lambs Conduit Street


Back to top