Tuesday, February 24, 2015
Torquay, Fawlty Towers & Agatha Christie
The first time I heard of Torquay, I was watching Fawlty Towers. Basil & Sybil Fawlty were trying something new in their boutique hotel. "Gourmet Night" was to set Torquay alight, giving cultured residents and visitors another opportunity to mix, mingle, and sample epicurean delights. Instead, like all Basil's plans, the first and only event collapsed in catastrophic fashion.
Still, as I watched "Gourmet Night," and the other eleven episodes of Fawlty Towers, I wondered what Torquay was like. While never making serious plans, I thought: "If I ever travel to England, that's a city I could visit."
Well, why not?
As I've since learned, no part of the famous sitcom was actually filmed in Torquay. According to recent reports, the hotel it was based on, Gleneagleas, has closed and may not reopen. But as my wife and I make this year's plans to visit England, Torquay is on our itinerary. This time, it has nothing to do with Fawlty Towers, and everything to do with Agatha Christie.
I can't say I fell in love with Agatha Christie's stories, although I did read her novel Ten Little Indians in my teens. But the TV series based on her works, particularly that of Hercule Poirot, have become favorite viewing in our household. The TV series led me to her stories, and I've recently enjoyed the first two Poirot novels. Both kept me awake hours after I laid down in bed at night, and made me want to read more of her page-turning prose.
Agatha Christie was born in Torquay. Although she left it numerous times, the seaside English town always drew her back. Eventually, she bought a home there, Greenway, which she visited each summer. While she existed in other places, Torquay was the place she felt she really came alive. We look forward to our visit to Torquay this year, and seeing the surroundings that formed and inspired her.
I've dallied with the idea of making a second blog, one devoted solely to Agatha Christie, and linking it with Dragon Cache. There I could post my plans, my thoughts, my reflections on Agatha Christie as we prepare for this year's journey. Of course, I could also share that portion of our England journey on that site. It's an idea; I haven't made up my mind yet. If I do so, I'll post the link on the upper right hand corner of this blog, right below Pocket Dalek, so you can easily find it.
Still, I can't help but marvel. Decades after Fawlty Towers made me wonder about Torquay, I'm finally traveling there, and doing so because of Agatha Christie's Poirot. The TV series has lasted for far longer than two seasons and a mere twelve episodes, and I've come to love even more than Fawlty Towers. Doesn't that seem just a little amazing?