The cover of Holland Blind Twilight, the second volume of John Martin Robinson’s memoirs, shows the author in herald’s uniform within a Gothic ciborium. It points to his twin identity as modern courtier and architectural historian with a belligerent preference for the decaying, the feudal and the Catholic. The first volume, chronicling his upbringing in Lancashire and his coming of age at St Andrews and Oxford, was published as long ago as 2006. Holland Blind Twilight takes up the story with Robinson launching himself into the London conservation world in the mid-1970s.
At just over two hundred pages, this new book’s length is clearly not the reason for the hiatus. Nor does the immediacy of its material explain it: the text barely ventures beyond the 1990s – meaning that we are spared Robinson’s thoughts on the present state of the National Trust.