by A.A. Milne
Cricket, sailing, falling in love. A house party of cheerful Bright Young Things bubbles its way through a delightful set of short episodes.
Yes, The Holiday Round was written by the man who wrote the Winnie-the-Pooh books. Except this isn’t Pooh (though I like Pooh, especially read by Alan Bennett, who just gets Eeyore).
It’s Milne for grown-ups. Written for Punch in the early 1920s, these short stories are a long delightful burble of humour, usually involving the same small group of friends – playing cricket, bathing, sailing – and the long-vanished world of house parties. They are gossamer-light, and, I think, very funny.
This is one of my favourite moments, when a sailing party is becalmed.
“There isn’t really very much to do, is there?” said Dahlia, gently. “I’m sorry.”
Simpson leapt excitedly into the breach.
“I’ll tell you what I’ll do—I’ll teach you all the different knots and things.”… He sat down opposite to us, wrapped the rope once round his waist, and then beamed at us over his spectacles.
“Now supposing you had fallen down a well,” he began, “and I let this rope down to you, what would you do with YOUR end?”
We thought deeply for a moment.
“I should wait until you were looking over the edge, and then give it a sharp jerk,” said Archie.
“One MUST have company in a well,” I agreed.
“They’re being silly again,” apologized Myra. “Tell ME, Mr Simpson! I should love to know — I’m always falling down wells.”
Light, refreshing and more-ish.