image: Cornwall-Devon publicity dept
Working in a garden shed I recently discovered in a forgotten corner behind the clapped out deckchairs and flyblown flotsam of cobwebbed cans and bottles, rusted rakes with broken teeth, rotted remnants of oilcloth, rags smelling of paraffin and stale polish, heaps of broken seed-trays and other obstacles such as plastic-coated bits of wire and dusty light bulbs and paint tins full of rusty nails and screws and a watering can with a large rusted-through hole in the bottom, a discarded paperback book, damp but in fairly reasonable condition.
It was a copy of Rosamunde Pilcher's Voices in Summer.
The only thing I know, to date, about Pilcher, in fact there are two things I know of her or rather of her books, and these are that she wrote a successful novel called The Shell Seekers and that the TV films of her stories are most popular in Germany where there is a mania for stylish folks with manor houses, stables with thoroughbred horses and gleaming saddlery and open-topped MG cars and green wellingtons and Range Rovers and Mercedes cars that are, or appear to be always found in some indefinite Pilcherland which is bounded by the sparkling seas of Devon and Dorset, Cornwall and even sometimes the West Coast of Scotland and where the sun's rays always shine and gleam and reflect on a rolling blue sea and the grass on the manicured lawns and the rolling hills is always as green and lush as Irish clover.
I scanned the chapter headings: Hampstead, Deepbrook, Islington, Tremenheere, Landrock, Penjizal, Saint Thomas, Roskenwyn, Homes. And then I thought, if Eliot can make poetry with names like Burnt Norton, East Coker, The Dry Salvages and Little Gidding surely I can also do if not it, then something like it, with a little help from Rosamunde Pilcher and her chapter titles.
And so I've chosen now the four which have what I consider to be the most poetic sounding names: Deepbrook, Landrock, Roskenwyn and Homes.
That's the first step.