Monthly Archives: July 2012

Maeve Binchy

I’m very sad to hear about the death of Irish writer Maeve Binchy, at the age of seventy-two.

Back in 1978 Quartet published her first book of short stories,Central Line, about Irish women using the London Underground and the array of tales they had to tell.

For the cover, we used a picture of my attractive secretary Suzanna Crean (now Vickery) to give the book an added visual impetus.

Two years later we published Maeve’s second collection, Victoria Line, on the same theme – but this time around we used a picture of Jody Boulting, of the Boulting brothers, who happened to be working at Quartet.

This enterprising spirit has remained with us ever since, both in terms of cover creativity and the discovery of new talent – which would later move to more lucrative ground.

Quartet has always been proud of nurturing future great authors at a time when no one else within the Establishment was willing to give them a sporting chance. Maeve Binchy was one of many who will cement our pride in having the courage to back our intuitive sense rather than play it safe for purely commercial reasons.

She will certainly be missed.

God’s Unparalleled Gift to Man

So far in this Olympics British women have fared better than men.

Are we seeing the emergence of a female breed in Great Britain likely to reverse the dominance pattern of their men in sport, as well as in other areas where women have been regarded as inferior or not up to scratch?

Women would be more fun to watch, at least in sport, and more accommodating when it comes to wild antics in the bedroom. Men take themselves too seriously to enjoy life and become boring to bear.

What a tonic it has been watching the beach volleyball women in their tiny bikinis wobbling their pert bottoms to score a point.

That’s what I call the ultimate nirvana for those of us who appreciate God’s unparalleled gift to man.

Joanna Lumley on Go With The Flow

Go With The Flow by Gemma Levine is a most inspiring book for its message of hope, since it tackles breast cancer – a disease that strikes a great number of women of all ages with devastating ferocity.

Her belief is that nothing’s insurmountable if you possess the kind of faith that is essential for a full recovery. Her book is a much needed tonic for every woman, for it brings comfort amid fear and sometimes desperation.

Joanna Lumley has written to Gemma expressing her admiration as follows:

Dearest Gemma – what a wonderful book you have made: a thousand congratulations on such a huge, hope-giving achievement. You are a brave and remarkable woman – I adored the sons’ additions at the very end – touching and triumphant. This brings you love and thanks in equal and massive measure, xxxx Joanna L.

Our indomitable typesetter, Antony Gray, in full regalia at the Olympics

Not only is Antony Gray master at his craft but also a great ambassador for Britain. He belongs to the old generation of Englishmen without whom greatness would have eluded us.

Great Britain is a testimony to such enterprising men.

A Slap Too Far

It is disappointing to hear that female volleyball players have been given the option of playing in shorts rather than skimpy bikinis at the London 2012 Olympics.

Again, this new rule is no doubt aimed at dampening our spirits to please religious fanatics who instead of celebrating the female form in all its glory wish to imprison it in layers of hideous shorts.

This sport, which made its Olympic debut in Atlanta in 1996, has quickly become a crowd favourite at the Games. Beach volleyball has since proved one of the most popular tickets at the London Olympics with matches taking place on Horse Guards Parade from 28th July to 12th August.

I hope the girls will rebel and stick to their bikinis, and disregard the misery bearers who want to spoil the games by restricting our pleasurable viewing of sporty bottoms in action.

Keep it in the Family

Women spooning other women appears to be in vogue.

Who would have thought that a magazine such as Tatler would sponsor a great festive gathering of lesbians and gays to celebrate this new phenomenon?

The world we knew a few decades’ past is now the domain of boring old farts and old fogies who haven’t moved with the times.

I cannot but help applaud those who defy the Establishment and have the guts to turn our lives upside down, in search of sexual fulfilment of a different kind.

Flora’s Glory

The irrepressible Lady Vanessa Hannam has written yet another historical novel, taking place in the newly formed court of William of Orange and Queen Mary after James II has fled England with diamond buckles sewn into his waistcoat.

The beautiful and independently-minded Lady Flora arrives at court. It is her story, told with great flair and sensitivity – which will hold the reader in awe-inspiring wonderment.

Vanessa is a dab hand in this genre of chronicle. Romantically charged yet well balanced, with her heroin ladylike throughout.

Flora’s Glory is dedicated to the memory of Shirley Eskapa, one of Quartet’s greatest authors, and published in September. It is surely worth a flutter.

To Romania With Love

To Romania With Love

To Romania With Love is a moving story of love-bonding against insurmountable odds.

The age difference, a foreign culture and contrasting backgrounds did not help matters.

Yet, despite all these factors, love was to triumph in a curious and compelling manner – paving the way for permanency and a beautiful daughter to show for it.

I urge people to read this elegant book, which goes a long way to proving that nothing is unattainable in matters of the heart if you work hard at it.

Errant Banks

Why is London as a financial centre being tarnished by one scandal after another, at the risk of losing its world stature as a hub for reliability and above-board dealings.

Are we lowering our moral standards for pure greed and short-lived gains?

When I worked in the City in the late 1950s the standards were very high and banks were known for their strict code of behaviour, and run by people of great integrity.

We must somehow cleanse these institutions and return to the old values if we are to survive this gloomy descent into a contagious abyss of corruption.

Glaring Injustice

While the controversy about House of Lords reform rages on, may I draw attention to the present uneven membership of the chamber.

By and large, apart from the remaining hereditary peers, the rest are a motley crew of political appointees – chosen from the ranks of the three main parties – and a scattering of high-profile individuals who buy their seats through generous contributions to the coffers of their masters.

Ethnic minorities, particularly from Asia, are included – presumably for political correctness – but none from a British Arab background.

‘Why is that?’ you may ask.

Having lived in the UK since the age of eighteen I have so far failed to pinpoint the reason. Britain’s trade with the Arab world is immense, and their financial investment in our economy is massive. Can we truly afford to ignore them in such a blatant manner?

Is this remotely connected with racism, or perhaps a deliberate attempt from powerful lobbies to keep the British Arab voice silent?

If that proves to be the case this practice of selective democracy is utterly shameful.