Kate Grimond

The tale of Chitty-Chitty-Bang-Bang

On 31 May 1961 Ian Fleming wrote to Michael Howard at Jonathan Cape, publisher of his James Bond novels: ‘I am now sending you the first two “volumes” of Chitty-Chitty-Bang-Bang. Heaven knows what your children’s book readers will think of them.’ He ended his letter: ‘I am gradually reactivating myself and I hope to be

Turning up trumps

If you think that a room full of solemn people in groups of four play- ing duplicate bridge is deeply depressing, then this young-adult novel is not for you. If, on the other hand, that array of concentrated brows fills you with an urge to compete, then you may derive some pleasure from it. And

Capital crimes

Rennie Airth’s first John Madden mystery, River of Darkness, published ten years ago, was set in 1921. His second, The Blood-Dimmed Tide, was set in 1932 and this, the third and reputedly the last, takes place in the closing months of 1944. The series spans, therefore, more than 20 years. In the first, Inspector Madden

A fickle jade

Strix would have been 100 on 31 May. Before he had decided on a screech owl as his nom de plume, he had been Moth, and occasionally Scadavay and Apemantus. He had joined The Spectator in 1931 as a bumptious young man with a first in English from Oxford, where he had also been editor

Pigtails among the haystacks

During the bitter winter that seized Britain in earnest at the end of January 1947, the children of the village of Farnborough on the Berkshire Downs went to the pictures in Wantage to see Courage of Lassie but were unable to return home on the bus because of a heavy fall of snow. Accompanied by

The daily round, the common task

Opinion polls, it could be said, are the descendants of Mass Observation. This was a non-academic social survey started in 1936 by three people. Tom Harrisson was an anthropologist who had turned his attention from the tribes of the South Pacific to the habits of the people at home. He employed investigators to observe the