Monday, 7 July 2008

Of Books and Buchans: of 'gems and gold'

The 39 Steps at St Davids

Glencoe, June 2008

I was introduced to John Buchan books at school, and have loved them ever since. I was delighted to buy a copy of 'The Battle of Glencoe' (John Buchan) some weeks ago, when we had lunch in Glencoe, on our way to Skye.

Many have read 'The Three Hostages' and most people have watched 'The Thirty-Nine Steps' (in one version or another), but who has read a book by John Buchan's son, William - the 3rd Lord Tweedsmuir - who died on 29 June 2008? There was an obituary in The Times on Friday 4 July. It is my aim to get hold of a copy of 'The Rages of Time', a family memoir by William Buchan. I would also like to find a copy of his novel, 'Kumari' about India in the 1930s.

One of my treasured books is 'A Buchan Companion' by Paul Webb (Alan Sutton Publishing, 1994). It is an invaluable guide to the novels and short stories. Buchan also wrote verse: I have a copy of his 'Poems, Scots and English', published by Nelson and Sons.

Speaking of 'The Thirty-Nine Steps', we learn (or are reminded) in the obituary that the steps were 'a wooden staircase' down to the beach in Broadstairs. I live in Wales, and was fascinated to find another flight of steps with the same name. These, of course, link the small Pembrokeshire city of St Davids with its cathedral. This flight is - or was - apparently known locally as 'The Thirty-Nine Articles'. You may care to take a look at the
number 39.

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