Tuesday, December 3, 2013

The Bedside Guardian 1978-1979

I will be the first to admit that The Bedside Guardian may not be for everyone. Since 1952, the national British daily newspaper, The Guardian, has published a yearly collection of its best writing and cartoons. I happened to have stumbled upon, in The Booklady Bookstore in Savannah, four of its volumes: numbers 28 (1978-79), 30 (1980-81), 33 (1983-84), and 35 (1985-86).

The newspaper was founded in 1821 as The Manchester Guardian which it was known as until 1959. 

Each volume that I bought has an introduction written by (respectively) John Cleese, William Golding, Peter Ustinov, and Salman Rushdie. Each edition runs about 250 pages.

And what glorious pages they are. I have finished Volume 28 and have been treated to stories on the Dryfly trout fishing season; a profile on actress Cathleen Nesbitt on her ninetieth birthday; novelist Angela Carter and her thoughts on cats and the Marquis de Sade; a trip through the major cities of India with Peter Jenkins; an afternoon spent with Lady Rothermere musing on what makes for a perfect party; and a long weekend spent in Outer Mongolia.

This sentence, from the article on the trip to Outer Mongolia, stopped me cold:

All that said, the journey has the most extraordinary rewards; the landscape has an arid, unfamiliar beauty bathed in a light sparkling air so pure it tastes as though it has never even been snuffed by a yak.

I find it fascinating to read of world events from 30 years afar. There are mentions of Prime Minister Margaret Thatcher and other world leaders of the time. There are tales of British politicians who are strangers to me. And, any story about cricket or football pretty much had me totally, but delightfully, confused.

It doesn't really matter what person or topic is being covered, the writing is so crisp and conversational that I look forward to bouts of insomnia just so I can make these bedside books my companions in the night.


  1. These caught my eye when you listed them a while ago, and I've been wondering how well they've held up after 30 years -- obviously really well. I like to have one book on the go that I dip into and read a little bit aspart of a long project, and these sound perfect.

    1. Vicki, these are quite wonderful. The stories aren't your screaming headline ones - 'Seven Shot in South London' or "Train Wreck Injures 100" or the like. They are still quite topical and so well written it doesn't matter what they are about. Just a joy to read.