Sweet Thames Run Softly


Got rather too many books on the go at the moment - which I guess is the malady of the bibliophile - you have such an urge to discover new books that you simply can't wait to finish one before having a quick peek at that other one and before you know it you're sucked in and then you spend months juggling a whole pile of books that gradually mount up by the side of your bed. One of the books I am reading is an old hardback about the River Thames.

For some reason even I am not particularly able to fathom, I seem to have built up quite a selection of books on the Thames. The part of the Thames that I am actually interested in is the barren wasteland of Great Expectations, the derelict hulks devoured by mud, the lone level flats, the twisted jetsam of the Great City over the horizon.

However every book on the river is duty bound to include the contrast of the bucolic upper stretches, something I'm not so keen on - yet the book I currently have in my possesion deals with that Jerome. K Jeromey side of things rather well - It's a good bit of 1939 eco-porn, wonderfully illustrated by the author in a Bawden style. Its called Sweet Thames Run Softly by Robert Gibbings and whilst it's nothing amazing, it is one of those easy titles that can send you gently off into sweet reverie every evening. Here's a bit about rain:

"Towards sunset banks of white vapour gathered in the east, and in the west tall nimbus clouds reared their heads towards the mackerel flecks in the upper air. Sudden sharp squalls of wind hit the river, now from the west, now from the east. As the sun sank behind wine-red clouds large drops of rain fell one by one on the canvas cover. Thunder rumbled in the distance. The birds became silent. After a pause the rain came again, spattering the river with silver rings, and giving many young leaves their first wetting. In an ever-increasing crescendo it rained and continued to rain, and with the rain I fell asleep."

4 comments:

Gaw said...

That's beautiful worm. I love the title too.

My guess is that this style of 'fine writing' is deeply unfashionable. However, I find it enjoyable, partly because it's so obviously crafted in a genuine attempt to be good and beautiful.

When there is so much around that's trying to be ordinary or even going out of its way to be utterly crap and ugly this seems a very innocent and ingenuous project, quite refreshing in its effect.

It reminds me very much of J Arthur Gibbs 'A Cotswold Village' (posted on by me when the mayfly were rising), which also contains much riparine reverie.

worm said...

yes I do dismissively label books like this as 'eco-porn' but I genuinely love them really!

I wonder if sometime in the future, the standard-lowering negativity of post modernism will be comprehensively overturned? Or is it something that once unleashed can never be put back in the bottle?

Father Thames said...

Have a look at http://thames.me.uk/s01420.htm with references to Robert Giddings and the river.
John Eade

worm said...

wow, many thanks for that John, lots of good photos and info on there!

I've been reading up more on the book, and it would appear it was a huge bestseller at the time