Tuesday, August 10, 2010

Agent Triple P's favourite book when he was little

It's not immediately apparent from these pages but when he was a little chap Agent Triple P wanted to be an archaeologist. In fact that's not quite correct. He initially wanted to be a paleontologist and had, as he still does, a great interest in dinosaurs and the prehistoric world. In fact, we took the opportunity during our recent visit to Cowes Week to make a trip to the other side of the island to the small but perfectly formed Dinosaur Isle museum in Sandown. The Isle of Wight is, of course, one of the top half dozen locations for dinosaur fossils in the world and we spent some time happily looking at the excellent Iguanadon foot casts and therapod (probably the Isle of Wight's very own unique dinosaur: Neovenator) foot prints in Brook Bay. But dinosauria are, perhaps, for another time.

One of Agent Triple P's uncles had a very senior job in the motor car industry. He was a jet setter in every sense in the 1960s but had grown rather distant from Triple P's branch of the family. Nevertheless, he always ensured we received a Christmas present and that present was invariably books. Our uncle was a great collector of books (and the author of one or two himself) and had many first editions; including many of Dickens in the original periodicals they first appeared in. However, because of his remoteness from our day to day existence his grasp of what might be suitable reading material was often somewhat loose. As a result, one Christmas in the late sixties we were given this book about archaeology rather than paleontology.

Our disappointment was only momentary, however, for when we opened this little book we were transported into a series of lost worlds through CW Ceram's prose, photographs of artifacts and, best of all, the elegant, spare watercolours of Dutch born artist Peter Spier. For the first time the realms of Egyptology, Pompeii, the Aztecs, the Mayas, Troy, Babylon and Knossos were revealed to us. We lost our original book many years ago and hours of fruitless searching on the internet followed. Two weeks ago, however, we were in a charity shop in Cowes and spotted a copy of the book. Not only that but they wanted the princely sum of 20p for it. We were delighted!

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