Sunday, 4 July 2010

69. Mystery in faded ink

4th July 2010. Madame has a number of her father's books - one of which is Saint Exupery's Wind, Sand and Stars. Her father was a pilot in the pre-war (WW2) French Air Force and, like Saint Exupery, later served in North Africa with the Free French where they knew each other. Saint Ex's writings on aviation would, no doubt, have been close to his heart.

I picked this particular volume out of the bookcase this afternoon and, on opening it, I found a poignant inscription written on one of the opening fly sheets:   

For Tooks -
I think this may do for reading in our hut by the sea. I hope you like it as much as I do "Island in the Sun". With love from K.S.M.
                                                                                                                                             Summer 1940
(click on the image to enlarge it)

Who knows now who "Tooks" and K.S.M. were.. It sounds to me as though Tooks was in the flying game - and Summer 1940 was a particularly dangerous time to be involved in it.. I can well imagine that a couple in wartime would invent an imaginary hut by the sea where they could temporarily escape reality during their precious time - together or apart. There's a story waiting to be written here.

In different handwriting - in the corner of the same page - someone, probably a bookseller, has written £7 (1940) 1/5. We'll never know. I did a quick search for "Island in the sun" but I was unable to unearth any reference to it that made any kind of sense - given the date of the inscription. I would guess that Madame's father bought the book sometime in the post war period for £7. 

I stumbled across this little gem on YouTube - a gypsy jazz-style rendering of Dark Eyes. These kids are talented!

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