Hold on to the good things.

Let us now praise famous men, and our Fathers that begat us.
Leaders of the people, by their counsels and by their knowledge.
Such as found out musical tunes, and recited verses in writing:
All these were honoured in their generations, and were the glory of their times.

I first came upon these words in 1946 when children all over London including me, were preparing for the victory celebrations in the Albert Hall. They were the words to a hymn that the great Vaughn Williams, who was one of my heroes, had set to music. The words stuck in my head and have been there ever since. I used to think how wonderful it would be to recite verses in writing MYSELF and be honoured in MY generation. Not that I thought it was ever likely to happen, but it was a dazzling dream.

And now here I am, 31 books down the line, not exactly reciting verses in writing but telling tales by way of the printed word, which I kid myself is much the same thing!

So this is by way of a greeting to all the other artists who have found out musical tunes and have written plays, novels, poetry, songs or produced works of art by painting, drawing, sculpture. I hope all these will be honoured in their generation, because art of all kinds brings pleasure and comfort in hard times.

I’m going to leave our lovely Shakespeare to sign off for me and to remind us that we should treasure our artists.

‘The evil that men do lives after them, the good is oft interred with bones.’

And my last word on this is an echo of the motto of the final school I went to. It was in Latin, naturally. ‘Honesta obtinete’ or to put it in our own language. Hold on to the things that are good.

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