Wednesday, 23 February 2011

TALES OF COUNTRY THE ECCENTRICS


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Title: TALES OF COUNTRY THE ECCENTRICS
Author: TOM QUINN
Tom Quinn has scoured the country in his quest to prove that the British eccentric is alive and well and living in ... well, Ashford, Telford or Denbigh. Apart from living eccentrics the author includes famous historical eccentrics, for instance the taxidermist Charles Waterton of Wakefield who created the strange stuffed hybrid the Nondescript and tamed a cayman or crocodile by riding on its back, attributing his success to the fact that he "hunted some years with Lord Darlington's foxhounds". The Gothick revival architect William Beckford, the reclusive shell-collector Sir Vauncey Harpur-Crewe of Calke Abbey and the 20th century Conservative MP Nicholas Fairbairn are other examples of eccentricity. The living eccentrics interviewed by Quinn include the gun historian Bill Curtis, Ernie James, the "last of the Fen Tigers" eking out a precarious living catching eels, harvesting reed and shooting ducks, Michael Levey of Westcott, one of a select band of lawnmower racers, and Edward Dorrell who invented sheep racing and runs a flourishing centre near Telford, where each race has nine contestants wearing a hat and number cloth, though the unexpected appearance of another farm animal may make them all run in the opposite direction. There are female eccentrics too, and Lego enthusiast Marjorie Hotston Moore recalls how during a period as a nun she would sneak out of the convent to go roller-skating. 192pp, black and white photos, watercolour illustrations.
Published Price: £18.99
BIBLIOPHILE PRICE: £6

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