A raffle win to truly treasure

Beautifully-observed prose: East Anglian author Ronald Blythe.

Beautifully-observed prose: East Anglian author Ronald Blythe. - Credit: Archant

Keith Skipper relishes a collection of beautifully-observed Ronald Blythe prose.

A day trip over the border coincided with a timely promise to leave wintry left-overs behind in favour of genuine warmth and colours of a full-blown summer.

Destination Beccles and a generous reception for my light-hearted offerings to the annual meeting of the Adrian Bell Society. It was easy to pay tribute to two outstanding Suffolk scribes when the raffle furnished me with a signed hardback copy of Ronald Blythe's Word From Wormingford.

I stole a quick peep at this beautifully-observed calendar of a year in the Church and in the country. My eyes fell on his account of a trip into Norfolk to deliver the annual Dame Julian lecture a few Maytime blossoms ago:

'Entering Norwich, I take a particular note of the shrubbed gardens in residential streets, which, in May, deserve to be placed among the glories of England although precious little mention is made of them in the guidebooks.

'It takes the French to grow rapturous at the sight of lilacs, horse chestnuts and wisterias topping secretive walls and bursting through wrought-iron gates. Blooming suburbs indeed.'

I caught some of that Norwich flavour while sunshine kept us company all the way home. The current doyen of East Anglian writers has so much to offer, not least in his glowing assessment of Adrian Bell's work, especially that evergreen Suffolk farming trilogy of Corduroy, The Cherry Tree and Silver Ley.

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'The lasting fascination of all three books lies in the contrast between the natural hopefulness of their youthful author and the economic hopelessness of the scene to which he has committee his life. Silver Ley describes the conjunction of the idealistic writer's 'new morning' with the old-style farming's good night'.

It's taken a host of other countryside chroniclers so many more acres to yield their verdicts. Blythe's poetic conciseness allows him to enthuse: 'Adrian Bell didn't need time to prove there's no-one quite like him, but it has.'