Letter: Rowse in my shop

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The Independent Online
Sir: As a former purveyor of books to the late A L Rowse I can inform James Fergusson (obituary, 6 October) that his avian cries of "Cooee!" were not reserved for his housekeeper.

They would oft float up the creaky stairs to my office where my struggles to produce a catalogue would be punctuated by "Cooee! Cooee! I say - are you there?" Breathlessly he would arrive with a bundle of his own works under one arm for which he would demand credit.

After some haggling I would say, "Oh, all right - if you sign them." Whereupon he would produce his pen and flourish his signature across the title-page.

I once sold him a watercolour which he claimed to have hung above his bed. Perhaps his greatest intended compliment was an invitation to tea at All Souls.