Monthly Archives: December 2018


In her roundup of ‘Books for a Medical Christmas’ for The Hippocratic Post, Rebecca Wallersteiner recommends Jeremy Bending’s A Listening Doctor which Quartet published this autumn:

‘In his new memoir “A Listening Doctor,” Dr Jeremy Bending recalls touching incidents from his work and personal life with warmth and black humour that has served him well throughout his long, distinguished career as a consultant physician specialising in diabetes, a disease that has reached epidemic levels in the UK and around the world. During his time as a research fellow at Guy’s Hospital, Bending helped develop insulin-pump treatment, a technological advance that would revolutionise medical care for diabetes, and improve the lives of countless patients. This book is full of useful advice for people affected by diabetes and includes many patients’ stories that will help others understand the condition better.’


A perfect Christmas gift! As diabetes has become a major problem in Britain and is costing the NHS a fortune, this book is timely and is worth reading. Furthermore Bending is a low-key doctor whose contribution to the medical profession is immense and deserves your support.


The Jewish Chronicle has a proud record of maintaining an interesting and pertinent book review section, unlike more mainstream newspapers who appear to be reducing the space available for books, preferring to notice more tabloid habits.

So it was especially rewarding to see two of Quartet’s recently published books elegantly reviewed. I reprint below what the review said:


Reviewed by Madeleine Kingsley

THE DARK childhoods of actress Candice Derman (author of Indescribable) and psychotherapist Jane Haynes (If I Chance to Talk a Little Wild) might have sprung from the Brothers Grimm. Their stories are, however, all too painfully true.




Coincidentally, continents and time-frames apart, both women grew up as emotional, if not actual, orphans — adrift, unhappy and hungry for small acts of human kindness. Their two highly individual, must-read memoirs tell of triumph over early traumas that would have broken many.

What links their work is that Derman, who had already had successful therapy in her native South Africa, later found her way to Haynes’s London consulting rooms and so to a cameo role in Haynes’s erudite yet offbeat meditation on her personal and professional life.

Haynes recalls her client’s sapphire eyes and striking composure. Yet, between the ages of eight and 14, Candice had consistently been sexually abused by her stepfather, his grand, colonial house having become a perverted playground. Adding devastation to her deep damage, her perpetrator was eventually imprisoned for two paltry years.

Her Jewish parents had divorced; her father was distant and her mother blinkered by her wealthy remarriage bringing a seemingly enviable life of servants, exotic holidays and caviar.

Nobody questioned why the once very bright schoolchild slid into failure and a marked precociousness. Nobody suspected the charming man of the house.

Candice thus received a far lengthier sentence than her abuser — six years of feeling utterly battered in body and spirit, solely responsible for her hideous secret. If she spoke out, ‘Mom’s fantasy would become a lie and I would lose her down the rabbit hole. Dad’ — meaning her stepfather — ‘would go to jail, my sisters would be broken and it would all be my fault.’

There’s a literary genre known as ‘pity memoir’, but Derman’s first-person, child’s-eye narrative is different in both depth and dignity. Hers is an unsparing witness statement, a shocking, raw and graphic account of her feelings, of the abuser’s grooming, fumbling and eventual raping.

It’s so strong a story that I wanted to enter its pages to rescue this child from her nightmares, her self-blame, her occasional, disturbing frissons of pleasure and her overriding sense that she must be evil. I wanted to run her to a place of safety. But, in the end, Derman emerged whole, not just to survive but to thrive as a loving wife and mother. Jane Haynes reports their therapy ending as, 15 years married, Candice and her husband joyfully conceive a daughter on a romantic weekend in Provence.

‘Life has taught me,’ writes Haynes, ‘that tragedy skulks round every bend in the road.’ Her own childhood is told only to preface a much broader exploration of her self, her case-histories, her postnatal depression, her love of myth, poetry and the classics, Proust, Shakespeare (who knew that his plays contain not a single good mother?) and the need to fathom (with reference to Nabokov’s Lolita) how we can ever effectively address the need for prevention of sexual offences against the young.

As a Hampstead, Jewish child of the ’40s, Haynes could not rely on human nurture: her father died of syphilis when she was very small, her mother was bipolar. A school boarder at six, she struggled with ‘homesickness for a non-existent home.’ Yet she became a renowned therapist by way of mentoring from R. D Laing, enfant terrible of psychiatry, and Jungian psychoanalytic training, which she has abandoned for a more engaging, conversational style. She inspires her patients with the courage, as she puts it ‘to open up their warrior wounds to my sympathetic attention…

‘It’s through the transcendent magic of language,’ she contends, ‘that the wounds of body and soul are cured.’ Troubled times, it seems, make true therapists.

Having read the review and as the publisher of both books I’m indebted to the Jewish Chronicle for highlighting the plight of both authors who have overcome their childhood traumas and turned their lives into the success they both truly deserve.


I’m not surprised to learn that nearly half of online GP firms – most of them offering webcam appointments – are unsafe, says the care watchdog. Doctors are handing out addictive pain-killers, antibiotics and medication for heart disease without carrying out proper checks. Some companies are even failing to ensure patients are over 18 before prescribing potentially dangerous drugs.

A report by the Care Quality Commission warns that 43% of online GP Firms operating in England are not providing safe care. The companies usually provide webcam – or ‘skype’ – appointments in which the doctor tries to make a diagnosis. Others operate as a virtual pharmacy and allow patients to fill in a form that is checked by doctors before medications are prescribed. Patients pay up to 25 pounds for a 10-minutes webcam appointment and can normally be seen within two hours. Many would otherwise have to wait up to 3 weeks for an appointment with a GP at their NHS surgery.

The watchdog carried out inspections of 40 online GP firms in England. One of the main causes of concern was that GPs were prescribing medications too freely because they were not carrying out proper medical examinations. Doctors at one firm had prescribed a patient with powerful opioid painkillers for two years without telling the patient’s regular GP. Many other companies were found to be handing out antibiotics too easily because doctors could not examine the patient’s chest, ears or throat. GPs were also prescribing drugs for heart disease and diabetes without monitoring patients to ensure they were effective and not causing harmful side effects.

The CQC was particularly concerned that doctors working for these firms do not have access to patients’ medical records which may limit their ability to make a diagnosis. In many cases the doctors failed to contact the patients’ own GPs afterwards and inform them of potentially worrying symptoms, or the medication provided.

Professor Steve Field, Chief Inspector of General Practice at the CQC, said: ‘While innovation should be encouraged, it must never come at the expense of quality. As with all health care service, patients’ safety must be at the heart of all decisions around what kind of care is offered and how it is delivered.’

The firms usually employ NHS GPs who work from home in between their normal surgery hours to earn extra cash. The CQC has been inspecting the firms since 2013 and carrying out follow-up checks. Despite the problems, the watchdog pointed out that many of the companies had improved standards since first inspected. Professor Helen Stokes-Lampard, Chairman of the Royal College of GPs, said: ‘It’s very concerning that even now 43% of online consultation providers have been deemed unsafe in some respects. The inappropriate prescribing of antibiotics for example poses risks to individuals but also is of great concern to the wider public, and the failure to share a patient’s data with their NHS GP could have a detrimental effect on their future care.’

This haphazard going-on is a real scandal and doctors should not be allowed to risk a patient’s life for the sake of earning additional sums of money. Life is much too sacred to expose it to such dangerous practices.


Quartet has always been at the forefront of publishing the finest photographic monographs. One such timeless masterpiece of the genre was Venus, by Grace Vane Percy, which received the kind of acclaim that photographic books hardly ever collect when we publish them.


The reason, if I were to make a wild guess, was due to her clear and defined skills in presenting the nude female form in a perspective where elegance enhances its impact and the surrounding environment gives her photographs an artistic edge that propels them into a class of their own.

Shot in black and white, in country homes noted for their fine art treasures, Venus becomes a dreamlike compendium of a coterie of beautiful young maidens whose innocence and sensuality shine through as if the angels have willed it.
The author, endowed with a lanky frame, infuses what one may call a prototype of her own art. She combines femininity with a visual dimension that inspires the very fabric of her work.

Venus is a book that will remain an outstanding objet d’art and will certainly outlast the vagaries of fashion. As Christmas is the festive season, why not celebrate with a gift of substance at a price you can afford?  £50 in today’s money is a bargain for what you are getting. Hurry and don’t leave matters hanging in the air. Time is not on your side now that the bells of Christmas are about to toll merrily. So be bold! Defy the misers who think otherwise with a gift that may even give a boost to your love life…



The recent announcement from the Groucho Club that they have redesigned and renamed their Backroom Restaurant ‘Bernie’s’ is a splendid tribute to their legendary manager, Bernie Katz. His shockingly early death last year was a particularly painful moment for Quartet as we had only just published his book, Soho Society, a few months’ earlier. He had been a joyful author to work with if at times hard to pin down as he dashed hither and thither in his inimitable breathless style.


With specially commissioned artworks by Damien Hirst, Tracy Emin, Peter Blake, Sarah Lucas, Sam Taylor-Wood and Jonathan Yeo which illustrate Bernie’s caustic, pithy tales of sex workers, drunken celebrities and broken souls, Soho Society is a brilliant reminder of just how unique and special Bernie was. The son of a real life gangster, Bernie was dubbed ‘The Prince of Soho’ by Stephen Fry who wrote a glowing Introduction to Bernie’s book.

Soho is still a legendary spot and Bernie conducts the reader through a collection of ‘true stories’ that involve call girls, rent boys, suckers, thieves, A-list personalities and media hustlers as they weave their way through tales of lust, envy, pride, perversion and despair.

Here are some of the quotes about the book:

‘There is no gravity, the world sucks! Who better suited to write about the ins and outs of Soho life than Bernie?’
Damien Hirst

‘I have collected Soho literature for thirty years. For the last ten or fifteen I had despaired of ever hearing a new voice who got it, who really understood what Soho is. And now Bernie Katz has produced this collection and I am happy.’
Stephen Fry

‘There is only one man who has the knowledge, experience and respect of Soho. Bernie Katz may be the last of the breed of true London hosts.’
J.J Field

In an interview with Bernie, Roya Nikkhah of the Daily Telegraph commented, ‘If his book is anything to go by’, I tell him, ‘there is still an eclectic mix of hedonistic bohemians in W1 who will keep Soho swinging for years to come. ‘

‘Trust me,’ he says, ‘it’s quite tame compared to what really goes on.’

Quartet still have copies of the book for sale and without wishing to imply anything more than admiration for the Groucho’s gesture, a copy of Soho Society is a perfect complement to a meal at Bernie’s.

This book proves that Quartet since its inception has always been ahead of its time.


Drinking will always remain a controversial topic. However, for those who like to relax with an occasional glass of wine, it’s good news despite the difference in medical opinion in certain quarters. The optimists say drinking in moderation may help you to live longer. Researchers found that people who have a 175ml. glass of wine a day are less likely to die early or develop cancer than both heavy drinkers and teetotallers. But having a couple more than one can increase your chances of both by a fifth they warn. Evidence suggests low amounts of alcohol have a protective effect on the heart, cutting the chances of heart attack and stroke. Those who drink in moderation are also more likely to be wealthy and have healthier lifestyles overall, experts suggest.

Study leader, Dr Andrew Kunzmann from Queens University, Belfast, said: ‘We found lighter drinkers – who drink less than 7 drinks a week – have the lowest combined risk of cancer and death. The risk increases for every extra drink per week after that. If you stick to less than 7 drink’s a week, you might have a lower risk of developing these major health conditions.’
Researchers wanted to analyse the effects of different levels of drinking on cancer and overall mortality. They tracked almost 100,000 adults aged 55-74 in the US, over nine years. They found that those who enjoyed the equivalent of about 6 small glasses of wine a week – in line with UK guidelines of 14 units – had the lowest chances of developing cancer or dying. People who never drink were 7 per cent more likely to die or develop cancer, they found. Those who exceed the recommended levels found their risks increased the more alcohol they consumed.

Heavy drinkers, defined as having between 2 to 3 drinks a day, upped their risk of dying or developing cancer by 10% compared to moderate drinkers. The risks increased to more than a fifth for those consuming 3 or more alcoholic drinks a day. The chances of developing some cancers increased with every additional drink a week they found.

Dr Kunzmann said he hoped the findings, published in POLS Medicine, will provide more certainty over what people class as moderate drinking. ‘Very often in the past people thought that moderation was less than two drinks a day, whereas actually it’s much lighter. What this suggests is that moderation is actually less than seven drinks a week.’ Fiona Osgun, of Cancer Research UK said: ‘Alcohol causes seven different types of cancer, so while you might not want to go teetotal it is a good idea to cut down on how much alcohol you drink to lower your risk.’

You have been told, for moderation in whatever you consume is the key to good health. Be prudent and you are likely to live longer…


Advance copies have just been delivered from the printers of our anthology of Auberon Waugh’s writings for the Literary Review and his last great adventure, co-founding the Academy Club. I know I must be biased, but on this occasion I’m proud of being so as the book looks wonderful.

A Scribbler in Soho is a marvellous tribute to my wonderful friend and an extraordinary selection of his unique style of literary journalism.


This celebration of his work considers his time at Private Eye, and in particular his Diaries (which he considered his masterwork; his editorship of the Literary Review, and ends with his co-founding the Academy Club. As is befitting in a Festschrift, extensive examples of Waugh’s writings have been reproduced, including liberal amounts from his autobiographical texts previously published elsewhere.

Of particular interest are a selection of his monthly editorials, ‘From the Pulpit’, written for the Literary Review, which provide a vivid commentary on the book trade, publishing and the personalities who hovered around Grub Street in the seventies and eighties.

Quartet will be publishing A Scribbler in Soho at the end of January and I’m expecting excellent reviews of a book that celebrates a writer whose unique tone, style, wit and genius are sorely missed, especially as today’s political nightmare unravels in muddle and confusion.