Magazine article New Statesman (1996)

The Pinter Queen: The Perfect Marriage? Pass the Sickbag, Harold

Magazine article New Statesman (1996)

The Pinter Queen: The Perfect Marriage? Pass the Sickbag, Harold

Article excerpt

Book of the Week

Radio 4

In Book of the Week Antonia Fraser recalled her life with Harold Pinter. Oh, what a time it was! Four decades spent leaning intensely over an intimate table at L'Etoile on Charlotte Street discussing the awful situation in Chile. Champagne until 6am, while downstairs the chauffeur waits patiently. Harold in the foyer of the National cutting a dash in a black shirt and biscuit-coloured suit; Antonia in a biscuit-coloured dress and garland of coloured beads.

Fraser read from the book herself, in what sounded like an antique soundbooth - or maybe she was sitting unusually far back from the microphone, entirely unharried, as only a person with a hairdo somewhat reminiscent of the Queen's might sit.

She described the day she had to tell her first husband she was "madly in love" with someone else. The whole thing was ghastly, "beginning with the moment I fetched him in from the thunderous garden where he was smoking and reading the FT". But Hugh took it on the chin. "The best living playwright," he observed, and (one imagines) inclined his head in reverence. "I always wanted to be in love," continued Antonia "and I always wanted to know a genius, which I suppose Harold sort of is." (Your reviewer kept thinking of that line of Martin Amis's in The Information: "People ask me what it's like being married to a genius and I say it's completely brilliant.") But by the time we got to "It is our 25th wedding anniversary. There is no doubt at all that our marriage is very very very to the infinite degree happier beyond all possible expectations," one was considering how deeply unattractive all this was. …

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