For the past three years, since he finished writing his children’s book The Nine Lives Of Bella Simkins, Jack Swaab has carried round a battered leather notebook. In it, he has recorded the thoughts, memories, reflections and insights that the world around him bring to this remarkable author.
It is a broad canvas that attracts his urbane and witty mind’s eye—covering everything from footballers to birdsong, churchyards to ancient cricketers, boy scouts to Brexit. Some of what he writes is funny; other parts are tinged with melancholy. At times, banality, brutality or injustice, stir him to the edge of anger. Everything he writes, though, comes with the warmth, wisdom and generosity of spirit that the past 98 years have bestowed on him.
It is a very different world in which he now lives, and seeing that world through the vivid lens of so many years and so rich a life brings it to life for us too in unexpected and rewarding ways.
The First World War was in its final year when Jack Swaab was born. The intervening 98 years have been well spent. He was sent down from Oxford, briefly a journalist, decorated fighting in the Second World War, and after the war followed successive careers in everything from advertising to online racing tips. Along the way came several engagements, one marriage, a family and now an insightful, contemplative retirement.
Dimensions: 234 x 156 mm
Extent: 96 pages
Illustrations: 17 colour photographs