Tuesday, 1 December 2020

A Postcard A Day - Tuesday 1 December 2020 - T for penguins, babies and cacti

Hello lovely ladies, Happy Tuesday! 
Although this looks like a book, it actually is a postcard which I received recently from France. It was sent to me by George, who is an Englishman who has lived in the Auvergne since 1997. He is a self-confessed book worm who loves Penguin books. He recommends reading the biography of the founder of Penguin books Sir Allen Lane. This biography is called King Penguin written by J.E. Morpugo. 

If that name sounds familiar, it is because he is the father of Michael Morpugo, the author of War Horse. 

Here is Sir Allen Lane at London zoo with a (real) penguin.

Allen Lane Williams was born in Bristol. In 1919 he joined the publishing company Bodley Head as an apprentice to his uncle and founder of the company John Lane. In the process, he and the rest of his family changed their surname to Lane to retain the childless John Lane's company as a family firm. He was knighted in 1952.

He rose quickly at Bodley Head becoming managing editor in 1925 following the death of his uncle.  Lane, together with his brothers Richard and John, founded Penguin Books in 1935 as part of the Bodley Head.

Penguin Books became a separate company the following year. The legend goes that on a train journey back from visiting Agatha Christie in 1934, Lane found himself on an Exeter station platform with nothing available worth reading. He conceived of paperback editions of literature of proven quality which would be cheap enough to be sold from a vending machine; the first was set up outside Henderson's in Charing Cross Road and dubbed the "Penguincubator". Lane was also well aware of the Hamburg publisher Albatross Books and adopted many of its innovations.

Most booksellers and authors were against the idea of paperbacks. They believed that paperbacks would result in individuals spending less money on books. Lane was a person that was very stubborn when it came to his company. He operated mainly on intuition and imagination.  He was quoted as saying, "I have never been able to understand why cheap books should not also be well designed, for good design is no more expensive than bad."

Edward Young designed the horizontal bands and used Gill Sans Bold for the title's lettering. He was also sent to the Zoo in Regents Park to sketch penguins for the cover. Allen Lane wanted a cover design that was consistent and easily recognizable. In 1937 the font was changed to Times New Roman. His Pelican Books were non-fiction books. Penguins were meant to entertain while Pelicans were meant to enlighten. In the 1950s his company had grown so much that it had major outposts in both Australia and the United States. Lane's management style put him and the individuals in charge in his United States office at odds. These individuals eventually left Penguin books and started their own publishing companies: Bantam Books and New American Library.

The paperback venture was extremely successful, and he expanded into other areas such as Pelican Books in 1937, Puffin Books in 1940 and the Penguin Classics series in 1945.

The plaque marking the fiftieth anniversary of the founding of Penguin Books by Allen Lane at 8 Vigo Street.

It reads: "Here, fifty years ago, Allen Lane published his first paperbacks, thereby changing reading habits throughout the English-speaking world. 30 July 1985".

I have noticed that in countries such as Italy and Spain, which didn't have pocket books, people don't read so much. I do hope that e-books will get more people to read in those countries. 

By the way, Allen Lane's daughter Clare married the above mentioned author Sir Michael Morpugo.

The stamp is beautiful. It features an old stage coach used for carrying mail. The writing reads: The old postal routes.

As it's Tuesday, let's join the T-Party hosted by Elizabeth and Bleubeard.

What can I contribute to this party? Below you can see our meal I cooked yesterday. It was tenderloin pork (after all it was Sunday) with a glass of stout. Elizabeth might even join me.
Today we had a busy day. The glass had broken in the woodburner, so we had to go to the glazier in town to have another one cut. He did it on the spot:

We also (illegally) popped into the big Lidl supermarket as I am fed up of eating basic village stuff. There we met my friend's daughter who had just had a baby. She was carrying her tiny daughter in a baby carrier, nice and cozy. 

This little girl is 10 days old. Isn't she cute!

Luckily we didn't get stopped by the police (we are not allowed to leave the village). Our neighbour a few houses down was not so lucky. He got fined 300 euros for going to the supermarket in town. He had a good reason to go into town and thought he'd pop into the supermarket as he was there. No, no. Not allowed! The police spotted the shopping in the car and fined him.

The world is becoming so complicated. I had to go to the post office this morning and then pay a particular bill at the bank. I had a half hour wait in the queue to get into the post office (only one person allowed in there at a time), and then another half hour in the queue outside the bank. (the same: only one person at a time inside).

I should not moan really. Lets move onto something nicer: I'd like to show you my succulent, that is flowering again. It lives on the landing on the stairs, and loves it there.

I've started to read another book. This one is called The Gimmel Flask and is a classic murder mystery about the antique dealer/auctioneer world. 

Here are my cacti. I only water/spray them once a week on a Sunday. They are also doing well. These are kept in the living room.

The above supermarket sell this collection of dark chocolates. I have treated myself to a box (or two) and they are super delicious!

That's it from me this Tuesday. 

Wishing you all a very happy T-Day (do have a chocolate!)




  1. Hi Lisca, enjoyed the history of the card and I really love your stamp-that one is really special.
    so sorry about all the covid "police" many states here are trying do the same. the one bank I go to is only drive up and the new bank I just opened accounts in all have glass in front of everyone working-and we all social distance in line as well.
    your plate of food looks really delicious-and yum chocolates! Happy T Kathy

  2. The staying power of Penguin books is really amazing. I have so many of them on the shelves, and also the spin-off or copycat paperbacks. I guess that e-books were the next revolution in publishing, and there were also objectors who were afraid for their profits.

    The American states where people have opted for “freedom” to go anywhere unmasked and not stay safe from the virus have proved why the regulations are a good idea! Their hospitals are overflowing with victims who don’t believe in the virus or in keeping away from contagion. It’s sad that their self-centered “freedom” is killing so many people. The locked-down places aren’t doing well, but not as badly as the “free” ones.

    be safe! mae at maefood.blogspot.com

  3. Happy December Lisca. I loved the story behind Penguin books. Who knew that story-not me. And I also didn't know that paperbacks weren't wanted or are even that common in some places. Things are bad here too. I'm trying to not go out very much. Unless I must. And your flowers look great. Hope you have a super T day too. Hugs-Erika

  4. Interesting history of Penguin Books(of which we have many), and of course I love your card and stamp:)
    Glad you didn't get stopped and fined- yikes!
    Even here bank window trips are very long, and it's even longer to make and get an appointment to see someone inside:(
    Your Christmas cactus with the blooms are splendid! My Mom has one that has been going since my great grandmother had it.
    Nice meal and chocolates-yum. Happy T day!

  5. I really enjoyed learning about the Penguin books history and of their inventor. Fascinating story and the longevity of these books (and their offspring). That's a lovely stamp, too. I fear I'll never get an e-reader. I much prefer to feel the pages of the books in my hands and how they smell, too. It's a paper thing for me.

    SO glad you didn't get fined or caught. You were obviously lucky and now you have more food, too. I have a similar problem. My friend Scott shops for me at Aldi, but they have limited supplies, so it seems I eat the same things week after week.

    I'll gladly join you for a stout. It sounds wonderful, but I'll pass on the pork. Thanks for sharing your week with us, as well as your stout for T this Tuesday, dear Lisca.

  6. Interesting postcard, and penguin books are a household name. I always tried to find paper-backs back in the 60s when I was studying as it was all so expensive buying books. I still have all of my penguin books here, tatty but well loved. Glad you didn't get caught and fined going to Lidl! Have a good week, happy T Day, Valerie

  7. I think I had a penguin book (yes, one).
    Back then you needed to go t a big city (like Hanover) to get a book in English. Amazon? Pfffft... Noi such thing! We once shipped an Esky full of second hand books from Australia to Germany.

    You are not allowed to leave the village?!
    But nice you got to meet the cute girl there!

    Oh, boy, a lot of waiting!

  8. Wow, I didn't realize how strict your covid-19 rules were there. Maybe we'll have that here in the US, too, now that Biden got elected President, and one of his advisors said a National Lockdown is the solution to the problem. Your food looks delicious. Happy T-Day!

  9. I loved reading about the founder of Penguin Books. I always learn such interesting tidbits of history when I visit you. I love reading paperbacks. Nothing can replace a book, although I do buy certain books on Kindle because they cost less. I also get a lot of free books on Kindle so you can't beat that.
    That is crazy that you had to wait so long in line. And getting fined when leaving your village... that certainly makes me not want to complain. Our restrictions are not as rigid.
    Happy Tea Day,

  10. Your meal looks delicious!

    Our restrictions aren't nearly as restrictive as this. We have mask mandate in my city, and gatherings are limited. Those chocolates would comfort me :)

    That looks like a Christmas cactus, a plant I love but have never had success with. I'm enjoying looking at yours :) Happy T Tuesday!

  11. A very interesting post. I like the history lesson on Penguin books. New, glass, long lines, and then a beautiful new baby. I wish, here in the US, "they" would fine people for not adhering to the rules. It is pretty bad over here. Your succulents are lovely. Have a very nice day.

  12. Such an interesting post, penguin books were a family staple growing up ...lol 😀. Your meal looks delicious and the Christmas cactus is so pretty too! Happy T Day wishes! Hugs, Jo x

  13. I didn't realize the impact that Penguin books had. Great story and stamp.

    Your restrictions are shocking to me, Lisca. You can't leave your village?! That seems extreme. I pray this ends soon. Here in Mexico, the experts predict it will go on at least until March.

    The baby is adorable. How nice you got to see your friend and the new baby.

    Happy T-day! Stay safe and well. Hugs, Eileen

  14. Yummy food! And I love that stamp! I never knew that they make the Belgian chocolate shells in dark chocolate. Need to find htme here and get a box for my Mom. She loves dark chocolate. Have a nice day!

  15. Interesting history of the Penguin Books, and that stamp is so pretty. Wouldn't that look great on Christmas cards. Our restrictions aren't so severe, but maybe they should be. Covid numbers in my state are alarmingly high. Most likely within the next two weeks, we will see another surge from those people who chose to celebrate the Thanksgiving holiday without thought for the virus. News of the vaccines with their 90% efficacy sounds promising. Hopefully available to all by the end of Spring. In the meantime, chocolates to get you through tough times. I bought a bag last shopping trip. Take care and stay safe.

  16. Penguin books were always such a great treat as a teen and affordable. I had never read about Allen Lane though - love the stamp! We once went to an event where Michael Murpugo was reading extracts from his books. A very belated Happy T Day

  17. Sorry got carried away - love that you had an illicit visit to Lidl! Your Christmas cactus looks amazing!Chrisxx