The Greg Brady Project

Welcome to the official Barry Williams' blog

My friends call me Barry. From time to time I also hear the name Greg. Yeah, as in Greg Brady. The Brady Bunch represents a fun time in my life. But it’s only part of the story. There’s more to say and that’s what The Greg Brady Project is all about – a place to say it. So, I’ve invited some friends to join me and share their perspectives on the Brady’s, the 70′s and just about everything else. Now, I’m inviting you…

13 Aug
Bob Hunt

Ticket to Rye

written by Bob Hunt in Blog | No comments


Lamb House, Rye, East Sussex, England.  This (and social networking) brought us together… 

The other day, a best-selling author thanked me for purchasing his latest book.  Not too unusual, perhaps, except for the fact that we were five time zones apart when it happened.  We’ve never even met each other, in fact, and until recently we were carrying on our lives without the slightest hint of each other’s existence.  The circumstances that produced our unlikely connection make up yet another tale of the way in which the Internet and social networking are changing our lives in unprecedented ways.

The author is Guy Fraser-Sampson, a former lawyer who has become an expert in private equity investment, having written a pair of successful financial books and keeping busy with lecturing at a business school and various public speaking engagements.  He lives in London, though he has also called Paris and Abu Dhabi home.  I, on the other hand, am an elementary school teacher who has lived in Ohio all of my life, and just reading the Wikipedia entry on private equity causes my eyes to glaze over in a heart-palpitating catatonia of incomprehension and fear.  What could we possibly have in common?

The answer lies in the small East Sussex municipality of Rye, off the south-eastern coast of England.  It was here that E. F. Benson lived in the historic Lamb House, which had previously been the home of novelist Henry James.  During the 1920′s and 30′s, Benson wrote a series of six novels known to aficionados as the Mapp and Lucia books, comic tales involving the social schemes and counter-schemes of wealthy socialites.  Benson used his own home (calling it Mallards) and the town of Rye (changing it to Tilling) as the setting for much of the series, and if you take in an aerial view of Rye on Google Earth, you can easily pick out Tilling landmarks even today.  The Mapp and Lucia series has a cult following around the world, and that is one of the things that Guy Fraser-Sampson and I have in common:  we’re both fans.  Only he’s taken it a step further by writing a new Tilling novel called Major Benjy, incorporating Benson’s setting and characters.

If you’ve never heard of Benson or these books before, it’s no surprise, as it’s certainly a niche interest, even more so in the States.  Only via the magic of the Internet was I even aware of the impending publication of Major Benjy.  It started with a visit to a Benson  fansite, which gave word of a new podcast called Radio Tilling.  That prompted me to subscribe through iTunes, and when the second podcast appeared, it included an interview with Guy Fraser-Sampson, which in turn alerted me to his book’s forthcoming availability through Amazon.  I did an Amazon search and found, much to my surprise, that Major Benjy was already in stock, even though its UK publication date is not until September 1, 2008.  A few days later, book in hand, I added the title to my LibraryThing account under the heading “currently reading.”  In doing so, I noticed that one LibraryThing member already had this hot-off-the-press book.  Yes, it was the author himself, and in short order he noticed that I had picked up his new book and sent me a note of appreciation.  I was able to express my thoughts about his work, and we corresponded briefly.

A London-based international financial expert and a school teacher from Ohio.  Who would have thought?  Then again, as social networking evolves, anything is possible.

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