A simple still-life with hints of Spain, a straw hat, glass of red wine and an opened illustrated copy of “As I walked Out One Midsummer Morning“, by Laurie Lee, English poet and novelist, and a descriptive, richly lyrical memoir.
The book is a sequel to “Cider with Rosie” which detailed life in Gloucestershire after the First World War, in which Lee leaves the security of his Cotswold village in1934 to embark on an epic journey, beginning with a walk to London. During his time there, about a year, he picked up the Spanish phrase “¿Podría darme un vaso de agua, por favor?” or “Will you please give me a glass of water?” and some months later decided to go to Spain.
There he scraped together a living by playing his violin outside cafés, and slept in his blanket under the open sky or in cheap, rough posadas. For a year he tramped through Spain, from Vigo in the north to the south coast and Almuñécar, where he is trapped by the outbreak of the Spanish Civil War until a British destroyer from Gibraltar arrived to pick up any British subjects who might be marooned on the coast.
back in England. he started to study for an art degree but returned to Spain in 1937 and volunteered for the International Brigade, but his service was cut short by his epilepsy. His experiences were recounted in A Moment of War , an austere memoir of his time as a volunteer in the Spanish Civil War (1936–1939).
He wrote a few more books, but without the success of the first three, and although Lee’s first love was poetry, he was only moderately successful as a poet. Sadly, his muse deserted him, and in his later life, he was left deaf, nearly blind, and often the worse for drink, living the kind of destitute life he had gone in search of as a young man. He slipped off his mortal coil in May 1997.