|Molly Parkin (left) and Diana Athill. Pic © Laura Lockington|
Here's a very special and exclusive picture of two legends who met last week for dinner in London: Molly Parkin, close on 79, and retired premier UK literary editor and latterday celebrated memoirist Diana Athill, 93 in December.
I shall be reviewing Molly's extraordinary memoirs Welcome to Mollywood next week. Diana - who is an honourable exception to my general bar against Dianas - won the Best Biography of the Year at the Costa Book Awards 2008 for her frank memoir Somewhere Towards the End at the age of 91. The judges described the work as: 'A perfect memoir of old age – candid, detailed, charming, totally lacking in self-pity or sentimentality and above all, beautifully, beautifully written.'
Both Molly and Diana represent an amazing (re-)flowering of talents at ages usually treated as infirmity. Molly is writing at the height of her powers; her erotic novels will be reissued next year; and she's putting on her one-woman show at Ronnie Scott's on November 24 (on stage at 8pm).
In Somewhere, Diana reveals, among other things, that she preferred black men as lovers (least boring...): and for more details you'll have to buy her book. She describes atheism as, 'vastly more exciting and beautiful than any amount of ingenuity in making up fairy stories', a thought that went down well with fashionable secularists of the British intelligentsia raised on science drip-feeds.
Well, I didn't say Diana was wise. But at least, and unlike a lot of other Dianas, she does not whine.