Dreadful inexcusable blunder.
This coming Sunday sees the broadcast of the second episode of the series I’m currently doing for Radio Four, which is called ‘The Completists.’
In this episode, I claim to have completed a set of achievements myself, in that I say I’ve visited all the pubs owned by the eccentric innkeeper John Fothergill. Fothergill was an Oxford aesthete, and a friend of Robbie Ross and Evelyn Waugh, amongst others. He often put Waugh up at his inn in Thame, The Spread Eagle, which has some claim to being the only pub with a work of art as its sign, given that it was painted by Dora Carrington. The Spread Eagle appears in Brideshead Revisited; Anthony Blanche takes Charles Ryder out to dinner there, to warn him of the dangers of charm.
During the making of the series, en route from visiting one collector to the home of another, and looking for somewhere to have a bite of lunch, I persuaded the producer to stop at The Three Swans in Market Harborough, which also has a fab sign, with splendid 18th C wrought iron work. This was another inn owned by Fothergill; it’s mentioned in LTC Rolt’s seminal ‘Narrow Boat’. And so, in the show, I claim to have visited all of Fothergill’s inns.
But of course, I haven’t. Because between leaving the Spread Eagle and taking over The Three Swans he also owned The Royal Hotel in Ascot. He didn’t own it for long; he went bankrupt very soon after taking it over. But the point is, he did own it. And how could I forget this given that I own a SIGNED first edition of his last book, helpfully entitled ‘My Three Inns’?
Groan. There will be letters. I know there will be letters….