Oct 4 2001
As the secretary of our meeting at The Star today, it is my duty to bring you the minutes of our lunch, which were as follows.
1. Whether to have the spicy fish cakes or something else. The result of voting was one for, one against. Mr Kington went for the stuffed chicken.
2. A discussion of Jane Ellison's novels. It was decided to keep an eye open for her second one, which dealt with Norman Ballon and Jeff Bernard, though not under those names. There was a brief discussion of whether it was a good idea to be a professor of journalism, but it died for lack of interest.
3. A wide ranging discussion on Alex Cockburn. It was decided inter alia that a) it was a bad thing to try to write like your father b) one should not let one's wives near Alex Cockburn.
4. Whether to pour millions of pounds into Bill Davies's new magazine, The Malingerer. It was felt not.
5. A brief discussion of Ingrams's new role as musical accompanist to Ian Hislop on the Clive Conway concert circuit. Mr Kington said he could not comment until he had heard the duo. Mr Ingrams said it was all right. Mr Kington said he would say that, wouldn't he? Mr Ingrams said that Mandy Rice-Davies had said that first. Mr Kington said he had been in a musical group called Instant Sunshine for twenty years and wild horses wouldn't etc. Also he knew many music critics but none called Mandy.
6. There was a brief discussion of Richard Boston. Also Larry Adler. Also Richard Cobbett. All were felt to be good things.
7. Mr Ingrams proposed the motion that Tina Brown was not as wonderfully glamorous as the late Bron Waugh had seemed to think, and that if she had been any good as a journalist, she would have picked up on a story about Richard Crossman which Mr Ingrams was still prepared to sell for good money. Passed nem con.
8. Mr Kington rambled on for a while about how easy it was to find out of print and long lost books on the Internet. He said he had recently located a first edition of Beachcomber, in the days when it was written by D B Wyndham Lewis. Mr Ingrams said be blowed to that, what he wanted was a copy of Mr J B Morton 's only children's book, The Death of the Dragon. Mr Kington said he would look into it.
When he got home, Mr Kington looked it up on the Internet and found there was one and one only copy available at a bookshop not a mile from The Oldie's offices, namely Ulysses at 40 Museum St, see attached document, though he doubts Mr Ingrams will do anything about it.
There being nothing else of moment, the lunch broke up at shortly after coffee at about 2.30.
Sep 12 2007
I haven’t had an invitation to your party on Thursday, so this is not a reply. On the other hand, Meg said I was sent one, so this is a reply after all, and yes, Caroline and I would like very much to come. Much to my surprise and pleasure, Rosie Boycott has asked us to stay the night in London, so we won’t have to rush away after the first drink to catch a romantic train back to Bath.
This gives me the chance to say one or two other things which I wanted to say to you sooner or later. One is that after being in and out of hospital over the summer, I have pretty definitely been diagnosed with cancer, and not even a nice kind of cancer, but the kind that did for Luciano Pavarotti, so although I am not going to fade away overnight, they are not going to give me lots of years either. Bit of a bugger, as they say. I now intend to make a list of all the things I want to do before I die, take a pin and choose one of them at random. “Go to Richard’s 70th birthday party”. Well, could be worse.
I also wanted to say that I recently read your book on Paul Foot and found it very touching. Very well written, too. I wouldn’t mind having something like that after my death. I won’t, of course, unless I do it myself, so I have now decided to write the first frivolous book about staring cancer in the face. The tentative title is “A Year in Denial”. This is serious, incidentally. There have been far too many brave books about cancer. We need a change of tone.
Also, and en passant, or perhaps en terminant, I was always a little disappointed that The Oldie never reviewed the book I had out last year called “Someone Like Me”, which was an extremely funny pseudo-autobiography. Perhaps I should have been less the shrinking violet, and been a bit more pushy. Well, it’s not long ago out in paperback, so it’s never too late.
I hope you get this before we meet tomorrow. You can shake me firmly by the hand, say gruffly that you think I am being pretty brave and add softly: “And you can go whistle for a book review, mon vieux. We are incorruptible here at The Oldie.”