The village hall was heaving. Penguin had descended in force-a force of two, anyway-carrying me in its wake, to launch my book about the Lydford war memorial. If this event had taken place in London, the chattering classes would hardly have given it a second glance: the metropolis is spoilt for choice. Dartmoor isn’t half so blasé. There was general amazement that the wine and nibbles were free.
I gave a talk. This imposed a logistical challenge, but a Powerpoint projector was tracked down in Plymouth (at the art college’s Department of Fashion). Speakers for the computer, to play a video clip, were rushed from Tavistock.
One of my images showed a padre laying a rose on the grave of Nick Taylor, a Sea Harrier pilot shot down over the Falklands. Since publication, Canon Roger Devonshire has emailed to say it was him; the flower was one of five sent by a lady who had cut them that morning in her Surrey garden and wanted them to be scattered in memory of those who had died. The acoustics were good, but not perhaps good enough. I told the story of Jim Stephens, who caught a dreadful disease from eating an infected camel’s liver. ‘Did you say infected Camembert?’ somebody asked afterwards.