A slightly different Monday post, but as it's Virginia Woolf's birthday today, her 128th, I decided I could be a little self-indulgent. I have no idea why I remember it year on year but I do. I like to pause and mark time with a return to Woolf and thought it might be nice to award myself a reading set aside day, which all feels a bit decadent on a Monday. However once I've finished my day job, and done whatever else needs to be done, I'm going to settle down and read Flush and raise a pot of Earl Grey in memory of dear old Ginnie.
The canine theme feels pertinent given our own current state of canine discombobulation. Rusty, the cocker spaniel puppy, the Gamekeeper's new gun dog in training, having outgrown his indoor nursery has been promoted to primary school and one of the two adjoining outdoor kennels and runs, and therein begins the dilemma. It's like Malory Towers out there, swapping the dorms, new room mates to be accommodated...
'That's my door old chap, don't think you can walk in there whenever you feel like it...'
'Oi sonny, get your snout out of my feed bowl,'
Thus far it's involved some middle of the night howling and the judicious use of a saw but I'll explain more another day. Strangely the new arrival has settled in fine because he took his blanket and his cuddly sock with him; he's in the kennel with the heat lamp, and sharing with Sticks the dog he will be working with eventually. Prefect Ben (also a Cocker) and recently retired due to his Queen Ann shaped legs and feet (poor Queen Ann) that give him a bit of bother now and again, has moved in with head boy Barney (Labrador) and they are both slightly disconcerted at this influx of youthful energy. Barney in true Virginia Woolf style is holding out for a kennel of his own again soon.
Having just lived through it heaven only knows what happened at Wimpole Street with the arrival of one of these because he doesn't sit still for a minute.
So I have little idea what to expect from Flush, but skimming (for fear of spoilers and ideas) Sally Beauman's excellent and lengthy introduction to the Persephone edition gives me something of a clue; a pedigree gundog puppy is to be tamed into city life much to the horror of his breeder, a Miss Mitford. Flush, a 'real old cocking spaniel' now to be the companion of the sofa-bound Elizabeth Barrett Browning and about to become the very fussy and particular Flushie, the lapdog who will eat partridge from a silver fork.
I don't want to know too much more before I read because I understand there are layers to unearth here, as Virginia Woolf suggests in a letter to Sybil Colefax
'...it was all a matter of hints and shades and practically no one has seen what I was after.'
But Happy Virginia's birthday to all you Woolf fans out there, let's raise a cup of tea to her today.