Tag: Roger Ackroyd

The Strange Death of Jack Moeran

Roger Ackroyd, Going Postal
Kenmare Pier, Co.Kerry

Just after 4 p.m. on December 1st 1950 a single figure was seen walking down the length of Kenmare Pier in Co.Kerry, southern Ireland. It was already getting quite dark and the squally showers that had been swirling along the west coast of Ireland for most of the day whipped up the surface of the water of Kenmare river – an extension of the Kenmare estuary leading out to the Atlantic – into ribbons of rain lashed furrows that relentlessly beat against the stonework of the pier. The pier, unlike the grand Victorian and Edwardian edifices that grace the British coastline, was a simple affair of less than 70 yards and was used primarily to moor a single fishing boat against on either flank. A short row of cottages faced the pier on its landward end and from one of these an observer watched, curious to see who it was that was venturing out onto the pier at this time of day and in such weather.
At the inquest later this same observer was to say that the figure suddenly dropped into the water but it is unclear wether he meant that the figure jumped or just toppled in. Rushing out onto the pier he watched as the figure swirled and disappeared beneath the water but such was the current at this point that it was brought around close to the steps that ran down the eastern side of the pier and with the aid of a hook it was brought to land and laid out on the pier. It was only then that the cottage dweller recognised the figure he had pulled out of the water. Jack Moeran, well-known in the town of Kenmare and a not infrequent visitor to the Lansdowne Hotel bar – and many other bars that dotted the triangle of main streets. It is not known if the rescuer was fully aware of the history of Jack Moeran but he was quite sure that the figure lying in front of him on the windswept pier was dead. Quite dead.

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Uncle Bertie, Part One

Roger Ackroyd, Going Postal

It had been several weeks since I had visited my Uncle Bertie and as I walked down the driveway towards the substantial gothic edifice which loomed out from behind the fir trees bordering the front of the house I wondered, not for the first time, how the old fellow could live all alone in such a gruesome dwelling. All alone, that is, except for the live-in housekeeper, Mrs Trout, who put food on the table but seemingly did little else about the house which had steadfastly remained immune to any noticeable cleaning for the last five years.  A gardener, Quint, lived off the estate and to judge by the copious amount of weeds that sprouted through the stones in the driveway had made little or no effort in that direction.

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Stories from the Shelf, Volume One

Roger Ackroy, Going Postal

Browsing secondhand bookshop shelves has been one of life’s delights, from the time I was barely in my teens and visiting the Croydon Bookshop in the Old Town (now long demolished to accommodate the flyover) all the way through the next 55+ years, entering, with open-mouthed wonder, those vast cathedrals of books stacked so high that extension ladders were needed to reach the top shelf and delighting in the carefully selected stock of much smaller shops. Sadly, the cost of High Street leases and the advent of internet sites devoted to secondhand books have more or less done for the secondhand bookshop and few now exist in the major British towns. So let’s take a step back and run our eye across a couple of shelves here at Ackroyd Towers and see what’s what.
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It Passeth All Understanding

Roger Ackroyd, GoingPostal

In the early morning of a warm August day The Sir Winston Churchill, a 300 ton fore and aft schooner,  slipped its moorings in Falmouth harbour and headed out into the straits preparatory to the start of  the 1966 Tall Ships Race. The finish line was to be The Skaw of Denmark – the northernmost point  around which shipping passed from the North Sea into the Baltic.

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No Shit, Sherlock

Roger Ackroyd, Going Postal

Sherlock Holmes. The greatest fictional detective ever created and despite other later iconic creations that have graced the cinema and television screens  –  Maigret, Poirot, Morse – he will remain forever at the very pinnacle of that genre. Created by Arthur Conan Doyle in 1887, Sherlock Holmes made his very first appearance in Beeton’s Christmas Magazine of that year in “A Study in Scarlet”. As can be appreciated, a paper covered magazine issued some 130 years ago will be lucky to have survived at all in the intervening years and all remaining copies – probably less than 10 – are now housed either in private hands or libraries. If one should ever come to the market it would easily fetch £ tens of thousands.  The author, aged just 27, received the princely sum of £25 in return for all the rights – a mistake he was never to make again.

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The This Red Line

Roger Ackroyd, Going Postal

A fellow poster suggested that I should write a piece about the art of…er…writing since it has become, rather later in life than I would have liked, my profession. Flattering as this suggestion is – and there is nothing a writer likes than to be able to waffle on endlessly about themselves – I really wanted to link it to something a bit more pertinent to the GP ethos and which everyone may, hopefully find interesting and thought-provoking.

Let’s take a good look at the photo at the top of this piece. Many of you will probably be familiar with the image as it is one that has been reproduced many times in histories and documentaries of the Second World War. It shows Josef Kramer, the erstwhile Kommandant of Belsen-Bergen concentration camp shortly after its liberation by the British army in April 1945. Putting aside, for the moment, that this is probably one of a number of staged propaganda pictures my eye was immediately drawn not to Kramer but to the figure on the left of the picture – the soldier holding up his rifle as if he was about to fire. My imagination immediately whirred into action. Who was this? Why has he got his rifle at the shoulder when the officer is suitably armed and Kramer is in leg irons? It is a simple, impenetrable, question which only served to prick the curiosity of this writer even further. Thus began the weeks of research and development of a vital part of the story which would lead to turning the novel on its head, moving motives from one leading character to another and providing a convincing psychological background to the events that would engulf and destroy both the guilty and innocent in the years post 1945.

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Little Englanders

Roger Ackroyd, Going Postal

Please excuse the headline, fellow GP readers. I do not deliberately exclude any from the other three dominions that make up Great Britain and Northern Ireland. It is used here as a perfect example of one the belittling attributes used by the Remain side in the referendum debate both before and after the event. In fact the verbal and written attacks in the media on the Leave voters would lead an outsider to believe, unaware of the democratic decision of June 23rd, that there had been some kind of revolutionary coup against an elected government.  These are just some of the epithets hurled at Leave voters:

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“A Sort Of Stinking Delequescent Saccharine”

Roger Ackroyd, Going Postal

In Ezra Pound’s early poem of rhyming couplets, “L’Homme Moyen Sensuel” (1916) he takes a pop at the crassness,  as he saw it, of American culture:

The constitution of our land, O Socrates
Was made to incubate such mediocrities

Written shortly before he decamped to British shores the poem attacked the narrow-mindedness and what one might  term a lack of intellectual and aesthetic vigour in the American psyche. Pound went on to do much to promote the  work of James Joyce, T.S.Eliot and Ernest Hemingway for which we have much to be grateful. His later years were,  unfortunately, less distinguished being that he professed eager support for Mussolini and Hitler, broadcast  anti-American and anti-Semitic rhetoric during WW2 and was charged with treason in 1945. He was lucky not to  have followed the same 8 o’clock walk that William Joyce – Lord Haw Haw – undertook after his trial. Instead he  was incarcerated for many years before being released in 1958

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