When I first opened the letter from the Prime Minister’s Office telling me I had been nominated for an honour and would I be willing to accept it, my reaction was conflicted.
Immensely aware of how special it was and humbled by its implications, I was also aware I have never pandered to or taken much notice of what the British Establishment thinks and does. Indeed, a quick browse through the books Quartet and The Women’s Press published during the forty years I have had the privilege of owning them, indicates my sympathies are usually with the dispossessed and the outsiders.
But I was also overcome with a sense of wonder that such an event could happen to someone born in the Holy Land, in the most unenviable circumstances, at a time when the whole world was about to erupt in the worst catastrophe imaginable, the Second World War.
I was also immensely saddened not to be able to instantly telephone my wife as I had done so many times during our long blissful marriage with good and bad news. Her death was still and will always remain impacted on my soul.
I even thought I might politely decline. But reflecting further and talking with one or two trusted friends, I decided that I would accept this gracious and historic honour on behalf of all those writers, publishing artisans, booksellers, media gnomes – indeed everyone in Grub Street who has held my hand, worked with me, excited and infuriated me, and all who have made the last four decades at the helm of one of Britain’ most distinguished and exciting independent publishers, funding literary magazines, making movies and even creating chocolates and wearing my perfumes Avant & Après L’Amour, a truly wonderful time.
God bless us everyone!