My Young By Name Blog

Posted in Reader Offers, Writing

Join my Readers’ Club to Enter an Exclusive Prize Draw for Sophie Sayers’ Luxury Handknitted Scarf

In my first post of 2020, I’m pleased to invite you to enter an exclusive prize draw to win an item that features in my new novella!

photo of knitting wool and needles
Sophie chooses “a pleasing combination of forget-me-not, bluebell, cornflower and hyacinth, and stuck the needles through, skewering all four balls of yarn like a fluffy kebab”.

Happy New Year to you! To brighten up what can be a gloomy time of year in the English countryside where I live, I’ve decided to hold a prize draw to mark the launch of my imminent novella. The Natter of Knitters will be the first in my new Tales from Wendlebury Barrow series, featuring Sophie Sayers and friends, plus plenty of new and interesting characters. 

The Natter of Knitters is about a village yarnbombing event that goes wrong. The plan is to wrap a tree on the village green in handknitted scarves to raise awareness of the plight of the homeless, before the scarves are sent to an appropriate charity for distribution.

As always, Sophie finds herself volunteering to take part, despite not knowing how to knit. – but as as Carol blithely tells her, “Everyone can knit once they know how.”

From the basket in Carol’s shop, Sophie chooses wool in four floral shades of blue: forget-me-not, bluebell, cornflower and hyacinth.

Forget-me-nots are a recurring motif in the Sophie Sayers series. In her fourth adventure, Murder by the Book, her bookseller boyfriend Hector, secretly a romantic novelist, presents her on Valentine’s Day with a book called The Girl with Forget-me-Not Eyes – the colour of Sophie’s eyes, of course!

And the prize is…

The scarf Sophie knits in the story, handcrafted in a luxury mix of fine merino, silk and cashmere – see the “before” picture of the raw materials at the top of this post.

cover of The Pride of Peacocks
Download this free ebook when you join my Readers’ Club mailing list

If you’d like a chance to win the finished scarf, all you have to do is join my mailing list.  When you subscribe, you’ll also have the option to download a free ebook of another Sophie Sayers novella, The Pride of Peacocks. Current members of my list will also be included in the draw.

The draw will take place on 14th February 2020. Romantic? Moi?

The Natter of Knitters will be published on or before 14th February. (I’ll confirm the precise date shortly.)


A Valentine’s Day Mystery

cover of Murder by the Book
Sophie’s plans for Valentine’s Day are scuppered by a body down a well

In the meantime, if you fancy a topical read between now and then, the fourth Sophie Sayers Village Mystery, Murder by the Book,, runs from the beginning of January to Valentine’s Day, and is available as an ebook from Amazon and all other major ebook stores, and as a paperback either from Amazon or to order from your local neighbourhood bookshop (just quote ISBN 978-1911223269 and they’ll be able to order it in for you).

 

JOIN MY MAILING LIST HERE FOR A CHANCE TO WIN SOPHIE’S BEAUTIFUL SCARF

Posted in Events, Reading, Writing

Just for You: A New Christmas Short Story featuring Sophie Sayers – and It’s Free to Read Here!

As my Christmas present to you, here is a new free short story, available to read right here on my website, set in the world of the Sophie Sayers Village Mysteries. It’s not a murder mystery, just a bit of feel-good fun that will transport you straight into Hector’s House, the Wendlebury Barrow village bookshop, as Sophie and friends get ready for the festive season.

I originally wrote this story at the request of Helen Hollick, to feature on her blog this month as part of her fun series of stories inspired by songs. To read the rest of the stories in her series, with a new tale by a different author every day in December, visit her Discovered Diamonds blog here. And here’s the link to where my story appeared there on 20th December. 

 

 

IT DOESN’T FEEL LIKE CHRISTMAS

Hector’s House, the village bookshop at the heart of the Sophie Sayers Village Mysteries (Illustration by Thomas Shepherd at http://www.shepline.com)

“It doesn’t feel the least bit like Christmas,” I complained to Hector as I added another couple of books to our window display of festive gift ideas. The sky was a pure, clear forget-me-not blue, the air was still, and the sun beamed down fit to melt the fake snow on the inside of the glass.

“Just think of it as a green Christmas rather than a white one,” replied Hector, closing the door behind a departing customer. “After all, we’re giving a new lease of life to all that packaging material.”

Whenever either of us had a moment, we’d uncrumple the kraft paper that came wedged into our suppliers’ boxes to stop books getting damaged in transit and iron it on the stockroom table. Then we cut it into A2 sheets to make it more manageable and put them at the centre of the children’s play table in the bookshop’s tea room, alongside Christmas stencils and coloured felt tip pens. Hey presto – environmentally-friendly Christmas gift-wrap! Complimentary gift-wrapping of all books purchased in Advent encouraged locals to do their Christmas shopping at Hector’s House rather than in town or online.

“That’s child labour, that is,” declared Tommy, breezing in through the door as I stepped back from the shop window.

Although local teenager Tommy is a regular visitor to the bookshop, he comes not for the books but for the company. More often than not, he tries to blag a free milkshake. Occasionally, when flush from helping old Billy with odd jobs, he actually pays for one. We’d seen more of Tommy than usual this week, after their lucrative double-act hawking wheelbarrows of holly, ivy and mistletoe around the village.

Tommy sat down on one of the child-sized chairs at the play table opposite his little sister Sina. His gangly legs ranged either side of the table like a young giraffe’s.

“How much are they paying you to do that, Sina?”

He jabbed a grubby finger at her orderly rows of holly leaves. I thought he might put her off, but she was not so easily deterred, continuing to loop her green felt pen along the edge of the stencil.

“Nothing, and I don’t care, because it’s fun. Actually, I think we’re lucky Hector’s not charging us to do it.”

Hector cleared his throat.

“And it’s helping a good cause, Tommy. Two good causes, in fact: the environment, by finding a good use for paper that would otherwise go for recycling, and the church’s Christmas appeal.”

When Tommy looked dubious, I explained.

“Hector’s donating the amount he’d usually spend on gift wrap to the charity’s Christmas appeal.”

“And very grateful we are too,” said the vicar, emerging from the non-fiction section with a couple of hardbacks. He set them down on the trade counter and took out his wallet to pay Hector. “It’s astonishing how many people forget to bring money for the Christmas service collections, or who find themselves short of cash once they’ve all finished their Christmas shopping. Priorities, my dears, priorities…”

While Hector gift-wrapped each book, the vicar took a seat at one of the tearoom tables.

“Cappuccino, please, Sophie. I think I’ve earned it after hosting the village school’s visit to the church this afternoon.”

Sina laid down her green pen and beamed at the vicar.

“Yes, that was fun, especially getting a chocolate decoration each off the Christmas tree.”

Tommy pulled a sheet of paper towards him and picked up a black pen and a snowman stencil.

“You lucky duck! We never do anything like that at my school.”

Tommy had long since left the village primary school and now attended the nearest secondary school a few miles away.

“Chocolate wasn’t the prime purpose of the visit,” said the vicar. “I invited the children for a sneak preview of our crib.”

Each year, the vicar brings out an ancient set of china figurines to recreate the Bethlehem nativity scene. There’s also a charming model stable, lovingly crafted in elm by some parishioner long since departed to the churchyard.

He’s not daft, the vicar. Inviting the schoolchildren to view the crib is an effective way of enticing whole families to come to his Advent and Christmas services, persuaded by their children’s delight in the traditional tableau.

Sina folded her arms.

“Yes, but it was a con, because the baby Jesus wasn’t even there.”

Tommy drew a fierce expression on his first snowman, making it look like a chubby Halloween ghost. For a moment I thought he’d added two noses by mistake, then I realised they were fangs.

“Maybe today was the baby Jesus’s day for playgroup.”

He glanced up to check Sina’s reaction to his joke. Her expression was stern.

I hoped a young visitor hadn’t pocketed the baby Jesus during the school visit. I could understand the temptation. There may have been no room for him at the inn, but he’d fit perfectly in a Sylvanian Family playhouse.

The vicar sighed.

“The thing is, Sina, Jesus isn’t born until Christmas Day, so we don’t add him to the crib till then. Come to the morning service on the twenty-fifth and you’ll see him then.”

I was ashamed to have forgotten that detail, despite having been a Sunday School teacher since Easter.

As I set the vicar’s coffee on his table, Sina raised a forefinger to herald a bright idea.

“Why don’t you just put his scan picture in the crib in the meantime? That’s what people do who can’t wait to see their real baby. My auntie had a scan picture of her baby in a frame on the mantlepiece for months before it was born.”

“Who’s just been born?” asked Billy, entering the shop for the second time that day. “Christmas babies always follow a good spring.”

“The baby Jesus,” replied Sina. “Only he hasn’t been born yet. That’s the trouble.”

“You’re two thousand years behind the times, girlie,” said Billy, touching his cap to the vicar. “Don’t that pesky internet teach you anything useful?”

“Coffee, Billy?” asked the vicar.

“That’s very kind of you, vicar, but I’m here on a mission.”

“That should be your line, shouldn’t it, vicar?” said Hector, as he opened the till and tipped a bag of pound coins into the cash drawer. “What are you after, Billy?”

Billy untied his scarf. I was pleased to see he was wearing the one I’d made for him during the recent village craze for knitting.

“I’m after the right book for my old cousin Maurice.”

Hector had heard tales of Maurice before. “You mean the one you haven’t seen for twenty years?”

“Aye, that’s the one.” He wagged a finger at Hector. “You know I’ve been buying him a book here every Christmas, ever since you opened this shop of yours. So don’t you go implying I’m neglecting him. I wouldn’t do that, not with so few of my family left alive, God bless ‘em.”

Like Tommy, Billy rarely buys a book, treating Hector’s House like a social hub rather than a purveyor of fine reading materials. But that’s okay. The best bookshops are much more than the means of buying a book – they are at the heart of the community. That’s one of the reasons I love working here. Well, that and Hector. Soon after I started working here, Hector became my boyfriend as well as my boss.

Hector came out from behind the trade counter, rubbing his hands together.

“So, what’s it to be this year, Billy? If I remember rightly, last year it was a collection of nature notes for every day of the year. Lovely woodcut illustrations, I recall.”

“Yes, and what a fine idea of yours that was. If Maurice has been using it properly, he’ll have read a little bit each day and that’ll have made him think of me all year round.” Billy lifted his cap to scratch his head. “But I don’t know about this year, Hector. What can I give him?”

“Poor as I am,” returned the vicar, quick as a flash.

I smiled at the reference to my favourite Christmas carol, which I’ve loved since I first learned it at primary school.

Hector consulted the non-fiction shelves for a few moments, then pulled out an astronomy guide with a map of the night sky for every week of the new year and an anthology of 365 poems.

“It must be hard to live at a distance from your relatives,” I said gently.

My parents live in Inverness, hundreds of miles from our Cotswold village of Wendlebury Barrow, so I thought I knew how he must feel.

“Aye,” said Billy, taking the books from Hector to examine. “Especially without a car. That’s the only reason I regrets never learning to drive.”

The local bus company runs services as far as Slate Green, our nearest market town, but that’s all. To travel further afield, you have to change at Slate Green, and even then you can’t get beyond a radius of about ten miles.

“I don’t want a heavy book, mind.” Billy weighed the two books up against each other, one in each hand. “Postage ain’t cheap these days.”

I was curious as to how far flung Billy’s relations were. I knew he’d lived in Wendlebury all his life, although his brother had left as a young man.

“So where exactly does this Maurice live, Billy?” I asked. “Is he still in the UK?”

I wondered whether he’d emigrated, like Hector’s twin brother Horace.

Billy passed both books back to Hector with a shake of his head.

“Slate Green.”

The vicar slammed his coffee cup down on his saucer.

“What?” he and I cried together.

I fetched a cloth to wipe up the vicar’s spillage.

“But you get the bus to Slate Green to go shopping at least once a week,” I pointed out. “How come you’ve never found the time to call on him?”

Billy shuffled his feet.

“He ain’t been to see me neither. It ain’t my fault. Besides, we always used to meet at our mums’ houses. His mum was my mum’s sister. His mum or mine took turns to cook Sunday dinner and we’d all sit down together, both families. But them days are long gone, and so are our mothers. We was both so upset after they died, just a few weeks apart, that we never really got round to making new arrangements. We missed them too much, see. It just wouldn’t have been the same without them.”

The vicar took the cloth from me to dry his saucer.

“That’s a great pity, Billy. I’ve seen this happen far too often after a bereavement, just when you need your family most.”

Tommy looked up from his sheet of gift wrap. His latest row of snowmen had the threatening air of Mafia hitmen.

“Don’t you like each other, then?”

Billy sat down opposite the vicar, his shoulders slumping.

“Bless you, no, boy. We was thick as thieves when we were your age. Always up to mischief in the village.”

“I wish I had a thief to be thick with.”

Poor Tommy. No other boys from his class lived in the village, one of the disadvantages of being raised in a small rural community.

“We had no end of make-believe games, neither – pirates, cowboys, Robin Hood.”

The vicar set down the cloth and reached across to rest his hand on the frayed cuff of Billy’s ancient tweed jacket.

“Then I think this Christmas you should start making up for lost time. I’ll run you down to see him any time you like. You have only to ask.”

Billy’s face softened. “Well, if Hector would just buck his ideas up about the right present…”

Suddenly Hector’s face lit up.

“I know just the thing!”

And with that he dashed out of the shop.

The others looked puzzled at his unexpected departure, but when I heard Hector opening the front door to his flat at the side of the shop and running up two flights of stairs to his top floor, I knew what he was about.

Moments later, he reappeared in the shop doorway, breathless and triumphant, holding up a vintage hardback copy of Treasure Island. A colour plate on the cover showed a fierce-looking Long John Silver, complete with wooden leg, crutch and parrot.

Billy’s mouth fell open.

“Ah, now that’s what I call a book.”

When Hector put it into his hands, he gazed at it with the rapture of a starving man reading a gourmet menu.

I came out from behind the tearoom counter to appeal to the children.

“Now, who wants to give Billy their paper to wrap his cousin’s present in?”

To my surprise, Sina had laid aside her holly leaves unfinished, and was now scribbling in black pencil on a small square of plain white paper.

“I’m afraid it’ll have to be Tommy’s snowmen, Billy.”

Billy peered at Tommy’s handiwork.

“They’ll do very nicely, thank you, Tom.”

He took the paper to the trade counter for Hector to do the honours. When the vicar drained his coffee cup and got to his feet, I realised he was planning to drive Billy to see Maurice straight away, before he could change his mind.

“Just a minute, vicar,” cried Sina, laying down her pencil and pushing back her chair. “Here, I’ve made this for you. I know how much you’re looking forward to Christmas and the baby Jesus and stuff, so here’s something to keep you going.“

The vicar took the square of paper from her hand and turned it this way and that, narrowing his eyes.

“Ah, I see. It makes sense now I’ve spotted the halo.”

When he showed it to me, I too was at first puzzled by the array of fuzzy, broken lines, with just a dark kidney-shaped blob at the centre. Then it clicked.

“Oh yes, of course! Baby Jesus’s scan photo! Well done, Sina. Very imaginative.”

Sina beamed and went back to colouring in her holly leaves, humming contentedly.

As the vicar escorted Billy, wrapped gift under his arm, out of the bookshop and into his car, I went to stand behind Hector at the trade counter, reading over his shoulder. He was logging Billy’s purchase in the sales ledger he keeps for the second-hand book collection stored in his flat.

“You know what, Hector?” I said, draping my arms over his shoulders and clasping my hands on his chest. “Suddenly it’s starting to feel like Christmas after all.”

Hector closed the ledger and laid his hands gently over mine.

“So it is. Merry Christmas, sweetheart.”


cover of Murder in the Manger
When the village nativity play goes wrong…

Like to read more about Christmas in Wendlebury Barrow? Try the third Sophie Sayers Village Mystery, Murder in the Manger, a gentle festive mystery with a touch of seasonal romance.

The ebook is now available to order from all major ebook stores, and the paperback can be ordered from Amazon or from your local bookshop.

And if you’ve not yet tried the Sophie Sayers Village Mysteries, find out about the whole series here on my website.

Posted in Family, Personal life

How My Childhood Made A Citizen of the World

cover of December issue of Tetbury Advertiser
Click to read the whole issue online

In my Young by Name column for the December issue of the Tetbury Advertiser – written during the build-up to the UK general election – I reflected on how my upbringing has affected my world view – and my love of languages.

From an early age, I counted myself as a traveller. Born in an era when most British families took holidays in their own country, and only one a year, usually in the summer, I had a fortunate head start at the tender age of eight.

An American Road Trip

My father’s job as a computer engineer required that he spend a year in the USA, and he took the whole family with him – my mum, my older brother and sister, and me. Initially posted to Philadelphia, he was asked after a month to relocate to Los Angeles.

Photo of my dad with tour guide looking at old photos
My dad impresses our tour guide on the HMS Belfast with photos of his seafaring days

My father’s natural sense of adventure had been nurtured by his earlier service with the Royal Navy, including two years during the Korean War on HMS Belfast, now a museum on the Thames. He negotiated swapping our expenses-paid plane tickets for petrol, and so began our great American road trip in the family car. Our scenic route was designed to take in world-famous, memorable landmarks such as Mount Rushmore, Yellowstone Park and Las Vegas. Before I turned nine, I had seen more of the US than many American adults.

The Railways of Europe

His subsequent posting to Germany during my last four years of high school saw me hopping on and off trans-European railways in my school holidays, a confident solo traveller. Only recently, as my own teenage daughter started travelling abroad independently, did my parents reveal that they were much less insouciant about my train trips than I was.

East, West…

In adulthood, I have made countless journeys abroad, not only for pleasure. Business trips have taken me as far afield as Hong Kong and the Caribbean. Yet now, with the likelihood of trans-European travel becoming less straightforward post Brexit, coupled with concern for my carbon footprint, my appetite for foreign jaunts is waning.

A World of Languages

graphic of Duolingo owl
The cute Duolingo owl is your personal cheerleader as you learn new languages

Therefore my recent decision to start learning more foreign languages may seem incongruous. I already have some French and German from my schooldays and a little tourist Greek from evening classes, which for many people might seem plenty. But when my daughter introduced me to Duolingo, a free app that makes learning another language fun, she sparked a latent desire. The languages offered by this app are not only the obvious ones from the the school curriculum. Hankering after Hawaiian? Keen on Klingon? Duolingo has those too.

I’m starting with Latin, because I’ve long wanted to have a better grasp of the roots of English. But Latin is only a small part of the picture. Our English language has of course been enriched by many more tongues since the Romans left English soil, via immigrants, invaders and imported texts.

Whatever happens politically in the next few months, nothing can take away our rich linguistic culture. Every time I pick up my pen, I celebrate our long heritage of the blending of Anglo Saxon with French, German, Greek, Latin and many more European languages.

As JFK almost said at the height of another politic crisis, “Ich bin Europäer”.

 


cover of Young by Name
The cover illustration is a watercolour by my father

If you enjoyed this post, you might like to read more of my columns for the Tetbury Advertiser, which I’m compiling into books. The first volume, Young By Name (the name of my column in the magazine), covers the issues from 2010 through 2015. The second volume, taking us from 2016 through 2020, will be out at the end of 2020.

Order from AmazonOrder ebook from KoboOrder ebook from other online stores

Or order from your local bookshop quoting ISBN 978-1911223030.

Join My Readers’ Club & Get a Free Ebook

cover of The Pride of Peacocks
Download this free ebook when you join my Readers’ Club mailing list

Click here to join my Readers’ Club mailing list and receive news about my books by email plus a free ebook on joining? 

Posted in Family, Personal life

Artistic Connections

cover of the November issue of Tetbury Advertiser
Click the image to read the whole issue for free online

In my column for the November issue of the Tetbury Advertiser, I’m talking about what can be found on the walls of my Victorian Cotswold cottage, thanks to the talents of my artistic relatives! 

My Cotswold cottage is full of the unexpected. Having been raised in a suburban semi with the same layout as every other house in the street, I’m pleased that my current home, although modest in size, is sufficiently rambling that visitors have been known to get lost.

I’m also glad to have pictures on the wall that can be found only in my house. This is because they are mostly originals by my paternal grandfather, father, aunt, cousin, brother, daughter and brother-in-law. Not that I come from a family of famous artists, just from a line of gifted and enthusiastic amateurs.

Changing Tastes

Not so in my previous homes. In my twenties, in my first flat in a modern London block, I displayed cheap prints of old masters, clichéd by over-exposure, such as Turner’s “The Fighting Temeraire”.

By the time I moved to a Victorian artisan’s two-up, two-down terrace, I favoured nineteenth-century sentimentality. Think G F Watts’ “Choosing”, in which a teenage Ellen Terry can’t decide between a handful of diminutive sweet-smelling violets held close to her heart and showy but odourless camellia bush. My daughter, the same age as the model, hates this picture with a passion, which makes me wonder how poor Ellen Terry felt about the set-up, painted by her future husband, thirty years her senior. The marriage was short lived.

Keeping It in the Family

photo of pastel drawing of lighthouse
Grandpa’s pastel drawing of a lighthouse

Now I have the family’s landscapes, seascapes, portraits, textiles and calligraphic compositions in almost every room. My latest acquisitions are from an old school sketchbook of my grandfather’s: a pastel drawing of a lighthouse and watercolours of a steam train and a hospital ship at sea. As my grandfather was born in 1905, he would have painted these during the First World War. In the same sketchbook are drawings of an airship and a tank – the latest technology of his day, exciting and glamorous to an Edwardian schoolboy.

photo of two framed painting in situ on the wall
Grandpa’s schoolboy watercolours, now proudly displayed in my front room

I already had Grandpa’s pencil sketch of Kentish oast houses, made towards the end of his life while in Farnborough Hospital. He was still drawing during the final illness that took him too soon at just sixty-six years old.

pen and ink drawing of Kentish rural scene
Grandpa’s painting of Kentish oasthousses

I regret that I lack his artistic genes scattered down the generations. My daughter certainly has them. Her drawing skills surpassed mine years ago.

Indelible Lines

But still we connect, my grandfather and I. In a light-hearted conversation with my eighty-seven-year-old father about decluttering in old age (my message: don’t bother, just enjoy what you have and leave the decluttering to your descendants), he said with a fond smile: “I remember Mum saying to me after Dad died, ‘But why did he need three fountain pens?’”

Silently I opened my handbag, withdrew my pencil case, unzipped it and spilled out onto the table three fountain pens. Artistic or not, I am my grandfather’s granddaughter.

photo of my pencil case with three fountain pens

 


cover of Young by Name
The cover illustration is a watercolour by my father

If you enjoyed this post, you might like to read more of my columns for the Tetbury Advertiser, which I’m compiling into books. The first volume, Young By Name (the name of my column in the magazine), covers the issues from 2010 through 2015. The second volume, taking us from 2016 through 2020, will be out at the end of 2020.

Order from AmazonOrder ebook from KoboOrder ebook from other online stores

Or order from your local bookshop quoting ISBN 978-1911223030.

Join My Readers’ Club & Get a Free Ebook

cover of The Pride of Peacocks
Download this free ebook when you join my Readers’ Club mailing list

Click here to join my Readers’ Club mailing list and receive news about my books by email plus a free ebook on joining? 

Posted in Personal life, Reading, Writing

Latin is a Language (Not Quite as Dead as Can Be)

In my column for the December issue of the Hawkesbury Parish News, I shared the new discovery that’s helping me to learn Latin: Duolingo

For a couple of years at secondary school, I studied Latin using what was then considered a revolutionary new system.

The Cambridge Latin Course tried hard to make learning fun and Latin funky. The first year’s course book had a bright orange cover – very right-on in the 1970s, when I chose to paint my bedroom walls bright orange too.

The course revolved around the story of a real-life family, headed by Lucus Caecilius Iucundus, a rich banker, living in Pompeii just before the devastating eruption of Vesuvius.

Call me suggestible, but Lucus Caecilius Iucundus and his family came to seem very real to me, and I cared about them.

When I changed schools at the age of 14, to my regret Latin was no longer an option.

Now, decades later, I’m making up for lost time with a very 21st century route to fluency: a free app called Duolingo. With an estimated three million users globally, Duolingo aims to please its students wherever they are in the world.  Thus I find myself translating surreal conversations featuring New York, Philadelphia, Boston and California, none of which existed when Latin was a living language.

screenshot of Duolingo's Twitter home page
Duoloingo’s Twitter home page indicates its popularity

Having always wondered what happened to Caecilius and family, I decided to investigate. To my surprise, our experimental texts have since become a classic teaching method, celebrating 50 years in print. The particular book I used, albeit now published with a less startling coloured cover, is currently Amazon’s #1 bestseller in Latin.

cover of first book in Cambridge Latin series showing Amazon bestseller orange flag
I was astonished to find my old school Latin textbook is currently a bestseller on Amazon – bestseller n the Latin category, anyway!

Even more surprising is that Caecilius and family have since featured in an episode of Dr Who, which my daughter kindly found me on Netflix. Their adventure opens just as Vesuvius is making ominous noises, portentous of imminent eruption and mass destruction. What becomes of my chum Caecilius? You’ll have to watch it to find out. (Here’s the link to its IMDB page: https://www.imdb.com/title/tt1173173/)

But I have one remaining question: had I had been able to persevere with my Latin studies, would Dr Who have popped up in the A Level textbook? Now that would have made Latin cool.


PS Added Duolingo fun can be found on this alternative Twitter account: @shitsduosays, which highlights the more bizarre and surreal phrases it teaches you. Here are a few screenshots to whet your appetite:

screenshot showing the phrase "You are already dead" screenshot of phrase "Were did those horses learn French?

tweet in response to a phrase "This is a matter of life and death" saying "Duolingo owl, I only missed a day, oh god I'm sorry"