Memories & Opinions: An Unfinished Autobiography

Memories & Opinions: An Unfinished Autobiography

Memories & Opinions: An Unfinished Autobiography

Memories & Opinions: An Unfinished Autobiography

Excerpt

'There ain't going to be no Reminiscences, never--never. You're the second kind friend this fortnight to hint at such a book in view of my approaching demise.'

So wrote Q to me on 30 July 1930. But publishers have a way of returning to the attack and Q's mind was too liberal and too humane to be incapable of change; on 27 February 1936 he wrote:

'I shall have to "perpend" a bit, before I can think out any way of writing such a book as you suggest. For (you will not have noticed it!) I am really rather modest, and it won't be easy to write Reminiscences without what someone (MacColl, I think) once called an indecent exposure of one's personality. So don't talk to the Syndics just yet. I'll think it over in the Easter Vac.'

The process of 'perpending' was favourable and an agreement was eventually signed in March 1938.

M. R. James has recorded how, in similar circumstances, he procured pencil and paper and how difficult he found it to make a beginning. 'Then', he continues, 'when the pencil had begun to run along the lines, the doubt was whether I should ever be able to stop it.'

It was far otherwise with Q. For all his experience and competence as a journalist, his pen--always a pen, and a steel one at that--did not run rapidly along the lines. 'I have made one or two shots', he wrote in October 1937, 'at a book of "Memories" and cannot find the target. The anecdotage was piffle; and as soon as I start "telling my inside" gray-eyed Athene tugs me off it by the hair. . . . But I think I am working out a new way, in a short book.'

And in July 1939:

'In the intervals . . . I write almost daily a paragraph or . . .

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