Monday, 28 March 2016

With Colin Elgie in the Weald of Kent

The rainbow that appeared at the end of our walk in the Weald of Kent.
Over Easter the south of England was hit by a storm called Katie, its hurricane-force winds touching 107mph. But I had already arranged to go for a walk in the Weald of Kent with my old friend Colin Elgie. Through the rain and the wind we arrived at a rainbow, and eventually at a pub.

Colin Elgie in the wind and rain in the Weald of Kent.
Colin used to live in London, a completely city person I used to think.  He is a commercial illustrator and has drawn and designed everything from postage stamps for the Royal Mail to record covers for Hipgnosis with some Waitrose stuff in between. Also, in the days when I had my own publishing company, Colin used to do my book covers. 

Colin Elgie and Michael Haag at the Peacock which dates from 1397.
One of these covers was for Alexandria: A History and a Guide by E M Forster.  Originally published in Alexandria in 1922, I published under my own imprint, Michael Haag Ltd, the first British edition in 1982.  I wrote an afterword and added some notes that connected the book to Forster's personal experiences in the city, and to Cavafy whom Forster knew there during the First World War, and to Lawrence Durrell who was in Alexandria during the Second World War. 

Colin Elgie's cover.
Also I got Lawrence Durrell to write a very fine introduction.

Durreel's inscription in Alexandria: A History and a Guide.
Durrell was very pleased with the book and the way it connected him with Forster and Cavafy.  Once visiting his home in Sommieres I noticed that he kept a copy among a handful of books in his bedroom.

My afterword and notes were the foundation for my later book, Alexandria: City of Memory.

I have always liked the cover of my edition of Forster's Alexandria: A History and a Guide.  Colin's cover.  He has moved out of London now to Kent and likes to walk the Weald in the wind and the rain, and to go to ancient pubs like the Peacock Inn, which dates back to 1397, where we ended our walk with a few pints of local beer and talked about ancient things.