Adam and Miss Runcible and Miles and Archie Schwert went up to the motor races in Archie Schwert’s car. It was a long and cold drive. Miss Runcible wore trousers and Miles touched up his eyelashes in the drinign-room of the hotel where they stopped for luncheon. So they were asked to leave. At the next hotel they made Miss Runcible stay outside, and brought her cold lamb and pickles in the car. .. They spent a long time over luncheon because it was warm there, and they drank Kummel over the fire until Miss Runcible came in very angrily to fetch them out.
Then Archie said he was too sleepy to drive any more, so Adam changed places with him and lost the way, and they travelled miles in the wrong direction down a limitless by-pass road.
And then it began to be dark and the rain got worse. They stopped for dinner at antoher hotel, where everyone giggled at Miss Runcible’s trousers in a dining-room hung with copper warming pans.
observations: Recently I have been thinking about the books and scenes I particularly wanted to illustrate when I started Clothes in Books – Agatha Christie’s Sparkling Cyanide, entry here, was one of them, and I listed a few others. This was on the list too: those trousers made a big impression on me when I first read this book years ago, and this chapter was one of the jumping-off points for the piece I did for the Guardian last year tracing the history of women wearing trousers in fiction….
So it might be surprising that I’m only just doing it now, but there is a reason for that, which is that this may be my least favourite Evelyn Waugh book. I like some of his books very much (Brideshead Revisited), and the letters he exchanged with Nancy Mitford are one of the great joys of life – their collected correspondence would be one of my Desert Island books.
But Vile Bodies I have read several times, always wondering
and Miss Mouse in a ‘very enterprising frock by Cheruit’ – let’s give her this one: already assigned to Harriet D Vane in this entry.