Yesterday I mentioned The Perfect Pest by Adrian Porter, which I picked up in a charity shop and quickly read. It’s not the kind of book you normally find in a charity shop – a piece of 1930s whimsy and silliness.
The book is a collection of comic verse of the sort that appeared (as some of these did) in Punch and the Morning Post. The first half covers ‘The Perfect…’ example of various types – host, husband, child, dog – in a wry way. The second half does a similar thing, but with more varied topics. It’s all light and silly and amusing – and delightfully illustrated by Eileen McGrath, in a style similar to Joyce Dennys’ wonderful illustrations.
The best way to sell this sweet little book is to give you an example – I’ll pick the title poem, and a few images of the sketches. I think this would make a fun gift for anyone with a retro taste in books – or something to pop on the bedside table in your guest room. Fold down the pertinent pages if you want your guest to make an early exit…
She merely sent a wire to say
That she was coming down to stay.
She brought a maid of minxsome look
Who promptly quarrelled with the cook.
She smoked, and dropped with ruthless hand,
Hot ashes on the Steinway grand.
She strode across the parquet floors
In hobnail boots from out of doors.
She said the water wasn’t hot, and Jane gave notice on the spot.
She snubbed the wealthy dull relations
From whom my wife had expectations.
She kept her bell in constant peals,
She never was in time for meals,
And when at last with joyful heart
We thrust her in the luggage cart,
In half an hour she came again
And said, “My dear, I’ve missed the train!”