The Residuary Legatee: the memoirs of a headmaster's wife. By Jean Glover. Brewin Books, Doric House, 56 Alcester Road, Studley, Warwickshire B80 7LG.Tel: 01527 854228.pound;12.95.
The concept of "the headmaster's wife" may be outdated, but it hung on longer than you might think. My own wife still knows how to work a crowded room, but she never had to cook for 90 boys because the school cook had walked out in a huff, a crisis Mrs Glover handled confidently (with the help of the Manual of Military Catering) right at the start of her time, in the austere 1940s, at Adams grammar school in Newport.
You read Mrs Glover's book with growing admiration for her resilience, humour and sheer organising ability. Her husband, for example, seems to have had an almost Pooterish habit of casually inviting people to come back for meals and drinks ("Never have chops for lunch. There is no way I know of making chops stretch") a practice that reached its apotheosis when he casually mentioned, at a concert, that he'd asked the whole orchestra back for "a drink and a bite".
"With glazed eyes I began to count the numbers of the orchestra as they slipped back into their places."