The hurlymans are still with me (see Day of the Door). I’m on my way back from Cornwall where I have just spent four days in a house overlooking an entirely deserted sweep of beach with no other human habitation in sight – this because the original owner of the house had the foresight to give the surrounding land to the National Trust, thus ensuring it would never be built on.
I went to the Lost Gardens of Heligan and marvelled not just at the scale and abundance of the gardens but at the vision and perseverance of Tim Smit, who cut his teeth on the restoration of this abandoned paradise before going on to tackle the immeasurably greater challenge of the Eden Project.
Then, in nearby Mevagissey I turned into one of the narrow lanes leading to the harbour and there waiting for me was Hurley Books. Hurley Books survives (I imagine) by mixing new, secondhand and remaindered books. It worked for me. I bought my mother’s birthday present, seven fat biographies, for forty quid.
But the thing that really caught my eye was the blackboard on the wall of the lane just outside the door, which had several sequences of letters on it, evidently a quiz. I wrote them down and took them back to the house where my son-in-law and I set to it. See how you get on. The theme is literary and the missing item is a single letter:
IIATU / PAP
MAMDO / HPATPS
CWBCW / LW
WWSAB / FALILV
LNIDI / ?
I’ll send the first person to email me the correct answers a copy of Room 121. All will be revealed next week. (We got all but one, which we guessed at, correctly as it turned out. If we can, I’m sure you can. Some of you are geniuses, I’m told.)