Baroness James of Holland ParkMonday, March 20, 2006
At 2 p.m. on October 21, 1996, I had an appointment with Baroness James of Holland Park. Phyllis Dorothy James (75) was at the Renaissance Vancouver Hotel Harbourside. I was to address her as Baroness James. I wore a suit. Although I might not have looked at her twice if I had run into her shopping at Harrod's, the plainly but immaculately dressed P.D. James looked at me with the dissecting eyes of a surgeon and, pointing to her window overlooking the harbour, she asked me: "What are those?"
"Those, Baroness James, are de Havilland Beavers, the truly Canadian float planes." She wanted more. Fortunately I had worked with writer Sean Rossiter, whose the Immortal Beaver: The World's Greatest Bush Plane, had just been published by Douglas & McIntyre. "The curious fact about this book, "I told her, "Is that the author had the idea while drinking beer at a local pub with a quintessential English name, the Marble Arch." Baroness James smiled when I chose to ask her about her science fiction novel The Children of Men instead of her Dalgleish mysteries.
Above right is an unusual version of the de Havilland Beaver as this one is equipped with wheels to land on land. I took the photo in Campbell River.
The Children of Men