NOW WE ARE SIXTY (AND A BIT). Decorations by David Eccles.
John Murray, 2003.
Barely had the first copies of Now We Are Sixty landed in the bookshops when people started to ask Christopher Matthew when he was going to write a sequel. Most said the same thing: ‘You could call it Now We Are Seventy.’
Not being within a fourpenny bus-ride of his Biblical quota, Matthew set his face firmly against the whole idea. Yet, much to his surprise, the temptation to try his hand at a few more poems (particularly ones based on originals he hadn’t tackled before, such as King Hilary and the Beggarman, The Emperor’s Rhyme, and Sneezles) proved, like age itself, irresistible.
Before he knew what, an entire book’s worth had been written.
Here, then, is a further collection of verses, inspired by those of the great Milne. Once again, they follow the rhymes and rhythms of the master, to remind those who are getting on in years of the wit, wisdom and whimsy he conjured up for those who were very young.
Life continues to take its toll on the author, but the over-all feeling remains one of cheerful resignation in the face of declining faculties, failing memory, and a maddening inability to get to grips with the video recorder.
Wise, perceptive, moving and very funny stuff. Martin Rowson, Independent on Sunday