Magazine article The Spectator

Toujours la Politesse

Magazine article The Spectator

Toujours la Politesse

Article excerpt

Alec Guinness tells us that he has kept a sort ot diary or over 3U years, and has instructed his heirs to destroy it. But this one he has kept for only 18 months, ending in June this year, leaving us breathless for more. He intended it for publication. So one must expect explanations like `Ed Herrmann (American actor friend)' and `Japheth (labrador type)' which a diarist does not make for himself, and he is extraordinarily polite, especially about other actors, never witnessing a bad play or a poor performance. When nothing much is happening, he can reminisce about the past with the excuse, `On this day three (or forty) years ago, I remember. . . ', all perfectly legitimate. A diarist's privilege is to hop from twig to twig. We do not demand a logical narrative.

It is always interesting to intrude, by invitation, on the private life of a famous man, and to discover that his daily routine differs little from other people's. We all miss trains, we all catch colds, our dogs die, we get wrong numbers on the telephone, our taps leak. Samples of these minor incidents and mishaps are certainly needed to round out a diary, but they should be rationed. Sir Alec gives us a little too much. He should have sieved the diary more, as he did when reading parts of it for Radio 4, and been a little less discreet. I would like to have known more about Jack Profumo's conversation when they stayed together for a week on Lake Como. I missed any explanation of why he converted to Roman Catholicism. Although he tells us much about his love of music and the novels of John Updike, there is little about his reaction to other arts, or about such topics as sport, youth, Americans, war. I wanted more reflections on his past and his present. He must have many.

He may be reticent on these subjects because, at 82, he is still having a very good time, and has no wish to sit back and contemplate. …

Search by... Author
Show... All Results Primary Sources Peer-reviewed

Oops!

An unknown error has occurred. Please click the button below to reload the page. If the problem persists, please try again in a little while.