The Reverend Montague Summers was another interesting character. It was said that he had never been ordained, but he dressed and, with white curls hanging down the sides of his face, looked like a Restoration Bishop. He actually was a great authority on the Restoration theatre and gave me one of his books about it.

He lived at Alresford; and after dining with Joan and me, asked us down for the weekend. The bedroom we were given had a number of big spiders on the ceiling. Feeling this to be inhospitable I had no hesitation in squashing several of them into bloody blotches. In the garden Joan came across the largest toad she had ever seen. After dinner than evening he took me into a small room on the ground floor that had nothing in it except a great heap of books piled up higgledy-piggledy on the floor. Picking up a small volume from the pile he held it out to me and said :

‘Now this is rare; very rare. And I can let you have it for fifty pounds; only fifty pounds.’

I did not recognise its title, and didn’t want it; and I could not have afforded to buy it anyone. I politely excused myself by saying that I no longer collected that type of book. Never have I seen such a complete change of expression. From having been normally benign his face suddenly became positively demonic. Throwing down the book, he stamped furiously out of the room.

Next morning I went out early to the Post Office and sent a telegram to Nanny, asking her to send me a wire at once saying that Colin had suddenly been taken ill. Her telegram was delivered shortly after lunch. We packed hastily and departed, never to see the, perhaps not so Reverend, gentleman again.

Drink and Ink pp 133-134.