Dear Mme Arcati,
I have been feeling guilty about being so beastly to Clive James. I decided therefore to read his new memoir The Blaze of Obscurity in the hope of revising my opinion that he is a pompous pantaloon. Here are a few choice quotations:
"I would have liked to have been in England when Larkin died."
"My own view of the past was expanded considerably by a recently acquired ability to read Russian."
"Hardly anyone ever resigns from the Garrick."
"When waiting in the car with my driver, I would read to him from Simenon or Maupassant."*
"At the same table as David Hockney, Philip Roth, Harold Pinter and Sir Isaiah Berlin, it was flattering to be treated like one of the boys."
"I talked to the granddaughter of ... Vinicius de Moraes, whose poetry I later learned to love."
"Sitting outside my favourite cafe in the Rue de Université, where I still write at least part of all my books ... "
"I had become so caught up with learning to read Japanese ..."
"At one time I often saw Gore Vidal socially ..."
"Peter O'Toole quoted one of my own poems to me ..."
"I was working late in my London apartment when I got the news [ of Diana's death ], and for several days afterwards I couldn't stop crying... Finally a call came through from Tina Brown at the New Yorker. I owed her too much ..., so I took the call."
"I could easily improve my knowledge of the syntax and the grammar [ of Spanish ] by underlining the various ways in which the clichés were held together."
The Angel With Horns
(Tory MP Michael Gove raves about Roger Lewis' Seasonal Suicide Notes in The Times today: "Its [sic] the perfect Christmas present." As a result of this, and/or Roger's interview below, the book is, as I write, at 210 in the Amazon hit parade, from over number 900 at the weekend. For once, Gove is spot on)
*Quote in red is Madame Arcati's favourite. I had a vision of Lady Penelope reading Descartes to Parker ...