As ever, a mixture of books make up the secret of a good holiday read. My first has been waiting for some time. Richard Hoggart (Promises to keep: Thoughts in Old age) was published by Continuum in 2005. Delightful, modest, engaging and wise are words that most come to mind when considering on commending this slim collection of random and unpredictable anecdotes and reflections. There is wisdom, but most of all humanity. Hoggart never loses sight of his northern working class roots, that give him a sense of practical awareness of self, family, memory and indeed death. There is little excessive self-preoccupation or dramatisation. He describes what he knows and is honest about what remains unanswered, hidden or just beyond comprehension.
We live in an age that believes in consumerism, materialism, youth and the cult of the personality driven by the media. Hoggart shows his skill as a literary, social and cultural judge as he looks back over his years and highlights the qualities that have come to mean the most to him.
Read and delight in his reflections on education, the purposes of memory, charity and what life looks like when death is inevitably close. For this reviewer 144 pages of sheer delight. I shall be passing this onto a friend who was a curate after the Second World War in Leeds where Hoggart grew up.
And here is a picture of this wise and humane man: