An Endsleigh Salon update seems propitious given that our most recent evening found us deep in discussion over one of our most erudite themes to date; so erudite in fact that we were 'at home' to the Bookgroup Babes who had asked if they could come along and discuss great literature with us in our very own opulent surroundings.
Of course, we said, come and see our lovely home, do admire our wallpaper, yes Georgiana chose it herself , more tea?
You may or may not recall the Bookgroup Babes are the group I went to talk to in Plymouth and then organised for a group read of Ekaterinburg and to meet the author Helen Rappaport at Dartington this summer.
It was such a good evening as seventeen of us squeezed into Georgiana Duchess of Bedford's little salon room and the hotel staff piled in with huge trays of tea and coffee and the discussion began.
Ah yes well, blame Rebecca.
Rebecca was on holiday when we selected our next run of themes and so we slotted in "Sheep" as a bit of a joke. Rebecca loves sheep and anything to do with them. Protesting her embarrassment at our choice she begged us to expand it to "Animals" but we said no, just think creatively.
So after all those amazing evenings of debate about Australia, Sport, History for the Stupid, Spies and Spooks, First Novels, Science Fiction, The Far East, The Test of Time, topics that would have impressed the world and its mother, here we are with learned and esteemed guests to impress and we're talking about er...sheep.
But this is us and books and we have now proved conclusively that we can talk about any book on any topic and make it interesting (well, except for Politics last month which was a bit of a damp squib and could have used John Sergeant doing a tango) and the consensus by the end of the evening was 'Let's choose more whacky themes'.
The range of books was vast and the connection to sheep occasionally tenuous, not much beyond a title perhaps as in Lamb by Bernard MacLaverty or my intended choice which didn't actually come to fruition, Knitting With Dog Hair, Better a Sweater From a Dog You Know and Love Than From a Sheep You'll Never Meet by Kendal Crolius, thank goodness I stopped myself.
Then there were sheep by association as in I Bought a Mountain by Thomas Firbank ( we think no relation to Douglas) Resistance by Owen Sheers (location sheep-laden, extra points for author's surname) The Hills is Lonely by Lilian Beckwith, The Welsh Girl by Peter Ho Davies, On the Black Hill by Bruce Chatwin and God's Own Country by Ross Raisin (me), Brokeback Mountain by Annie Proulx (lots of sheep in the film but great disappointment when our film guru declared they were computer-generated). A little mention of sheep in A Thousand Splendid Suns by Khaled Hosseini let that one into the fold too.
Then there were all the practicalities of sheep husbandry and some more fascinating books, The Wisest Dogs in the World, a book about sheepdog trials in the days when it really was rural competition and not televised, and The Man Who Planted Trees by Jean Giono about a shepherd (apologies, lapse of concentration at this point, the room was getting very hot , or was it me?) and Station Life in New Zealand by Lady Barker.
Then we hit 'off the wall' sheep and into some great discussion as Karen eulogised over A Wild Sheep Chase by Haruki Murakami and Norma waved Do Androids Dream of Electric Sheep by Philip Dick and both convinced all of us to read their choices and now I'd better watch Bladerunner. Chris meanwhile felt our comedy lives would be incomplete without reading The Sheep That Changed the World by Neil Astley and I sort of agree because she couldn't stop laughing as she talked about the book.
Finally, and really this one can only have been found by Angela.
Angela can always be trusted to come up with the definitive book that pulls our whole theme together, Sheep The Remarkable Story of the Humble Animal That Built the Modern World by Alan Butler.
Now listen carefully, it can be argued that sheep are responsible for just about every historical event, cataclysmic or otherwise, that has ever happened.
Yes really, Alan believes so as did Angela (almost) by the time she'd read this book.
Think Reformation, think sheep, think British Empire, think sheep and it went on and on and in the end I think we were all convinced and started adding in our own suggestions.Then a bit of a fierce debate about just which animal had contributed the most to civilisation, the cow faction locked horns with the horse faction while us sheep people just hunkered down with gratitude and our knitting needles.
God bless the sheep.