It was my great pleasure to meet Ion Trewin at the Long Barn Books editorial board meeting last week and also of course to do my usual and ask in the politest possible way " who are you?".
When you've lived down in the back-end of Devon for 30 years or so you circulate in rather narrow circles even if they are in the nation's most unspoiled market town (though according to this the dog walkers have a problem) so this new world is all very exciting but I do have to ask the most obvious of questions.
Susan has done a wonderful resume of Ion's publishing background over on her blog but I was particularly interested to discover that he also edited Alan Clark's diaries.
I do at least know who Alan Clark was.
Son of historian Kenneth Clark, eminent politician, MP for Plymouth (Sutton) from 1974-1992, frequently a Minister of State and of course a keeper of a diary for almost 45 years.
How many times have I passed these diaries by?
But now with good reason to explore them Volume 3 arrived first, so it's been Alan - A Life Backwards as I've started with his ending.This volume The Last Diaries : In and Out of the Wilderness makes for poignant reading,especially with my nurse's hat on and an honours degree in hindsight. Alan, famous hypochondriac that he was, yet clear as a text book, catalogues the gradual onset of all the signs and symptoms of his final diagnosis, a massive brain tumour.All this long before it is detected and then amazingly only 3 months before he died.
Perhaps a man who presented so many symptoms and ailments to his doctors it was all like that radar chaff that diverts the attention from the target.He must have been a difficult patient to assess thoroughly and objectively.
I had been unaware that Alan Clark lived for some time at Bratton Clovelly, what is it about Bratton? James Hewitt, notorious "friend" of the late Diana, Princess of Wales lived there.
It's also regular health visiting territory for my team so we all drive those lanes a great deal.
The diary reveals that Alan Clark would often stop at Brentor Church on his way there. Another surprise was that he was a devout and god-fearing man who actually stopped here to pray.
Brentor Church is one of those striking, rocky-outcrop landmarks you take completely for granted when you live here. I drive past it several times a week.
Years ago it was one of our great places to take three energetic children togged up in puddle suits and a collie dog in tow on a wet and windy afternoon in that dread hour before tea, bath and bed.Nice steep but safe enough climbing, wind to take your breath away and this exquisite miniature church at the top to go into and dry off and probably annoy people like Alan Clark.
Stunning views across to Plymouth Sound and Whitsand Bay in the distance.
St Michael de Rupe is still a "working" church for the summer months.
We'll venture up to the top any day soon and take some pictures of the 4th smallest parish church in England, a mere 37ft long by 14ft 6" wide.There's a churchyard and graves up there and it is still used for the occasional wedding.
Meanwhile I've made grand progress with Alan, a Life Backwards.Volume Two Into Politics has just arrived, and I will now eagerly anticipate Ion Trewin's biography of this unusual and fascinating man hopefully for publication in 2008.
Read the diaries and you definitely want to know more.