Not the most obvious bit of casting, but it works: Joanna Lumley makes an excellent walrus. 

Reading Lewis Carroll’s The Walrus and the Carpenter onstage with comic actor Stephen Mangan, Lumley reduced an unusually glitzy Olivier Theatre audience to helpless giggles at the launch of well-connected editor Allie Esiri’s new anthology A Poem for Every Day of the Year.

Like its bestselling Night of the Year predecessor, it’s mostly delicious old chestnuts with a few quirkier choices thrown in. There’s not only “The boy stood on the burning deck”, but also Spike Milligan’s witty spoof of it.

As the book is aimed squarely at young readers, it was a shame last night’s crowd seemed to contain fewer children than celebrities. Each arrival prompted a chorus of whispers. Oh look, there’s Damian Lewis! Is that Esiri’s old chum Helena Bonham-Carter? Oh dear, it’s David Cameron.

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