Two enterprising books published by Quartet

Rebecca Wallersteiner, writer for medical publication Hippocratic Post, has been isolating with new titles. In her article, she recommends two Quartet titles for the summer ahead…

If you can’t travel abroad during your summer holidays this year, there are still small everyday pleasures to enjoy. Settle into a comfy chair, pour yourself a glass of wine and enjoy Waugh on Wine, this entertaining collection of former Spectator wine critic Auberon Waugh’s writings on wine which sparkles with his legendary wit. On pink champagne, (a personal favourite of mine), he writes, “there is something Barbara Cartlandlish about returning to this great Edwardian favourite. Perhaps it cannot compare, in delicacy or subtlety, to the very best white champagne, but how many of us ever drink the very best?” Pink fizz is much more “festive” to look at. Waugh recommends “hosts that skimp on their wine should be exposed, ridiculed and humiliated” and “anyone with money to spend should spend it on laying down a cellar.” A little dated, it is a must for wine lovers.

One of the most colourful personalities on London’s cultural scene, Naim Attallah has published a diverse roll call of notable literary names throughout the years, including Angela Carter, Brian Sewell and Leni Riefenstahl, to name a few. In Memories Attallah writes entertainingly about his sparkling contemporaries. These range from the violinist and conductor Yehudi Menuhin, politicians Tony Ben and Enoch Powell, to ballerina Margot Fonteyn, founder of Private Eye Richard Ingrams and writer Quentin Crew; to Michael Aspel and the former Chairman of Conde Nast Britain, Nicholas Coleridge. Attallah warmly relates how despite having muscular dystrophy and using a wheelchair the journalist Quentin Crewe never ceased to delight in beautiful women, travel, and partying the night away: he argued that disabled people are not very different to anyone else. Packed with quirky anecdotes, (often about sex), this very funny memoir should appeal to fans of Private Eye. I enjoyed reading it.

Waugh on Wine, by Auberon Waugh, with illustrations by William Rushton, (first published in 1987), re-published in paperback by Quartet Books, priced at £10.

Memories: The charms and follies of a lifetime’s  by Naim Attallah, published by Quartet Books, June 2020 , priced at £15.

One response to “Two enterprising books published by Quartet

  1. Hi. This has been forwarded not as a submission — it is a barometer, so to speak. In your opinion, — and if I’m imposing on you, please pass on the question, by all means. Would the author of the following be receptive to your own book? Thanks! Don Reed (05/28/20)

    YOU2″ = You Cannot Live As I Have Lived and Not End Up Like This, The Thoroughly Disgraceful Life & Times of Willie Donaldson [1935-2005], Terence Blacker [1948- ]; Ebury Press [Random House Group] (2007 hardcover)

    — “What a young fool I was. But how I adored him.” — Carly Simon.

    — In “Nights At The Comedy,” produced by Williamson in the West End in the 1960s, its cast included “a troupe of Red Indians… a formidable singer called Ida Barr [and] a Polish boxer who would take on members of the audience…”

    Well, what could possibly go wrong?

    “The Polish boxer was knocked out by a member of the audience.”

    — “Buying Jack Waller Ltd had been shrewd, but Willie, says [Michael] Codron, ‘had [had] the greatest misfortune that could befall a producer — of one his first shows was a hit.’ ” (p. 105). I suspect that this is a long-standing cliche repeated in all sorts of venues where chance and risk dare the impetuous to lose their minds. (They do.)

    —As opposed to the simultaneous arrivals of Will Cuppy’s anemically-inked “How To Become Extinct” (simple: stop drinking ink), and “How I Married My Mother” (Jo Maeder didn’t), “You Cannot” arrive on May 9, 2020 in perfect shape.

    — Will “You” (no, not you, the book) be as dismal and occasionally amusing as the Jeffrey Bernard saga?

    * * *

    — “Terence Blacker FRSL…” “RSL” stands for the Royal Society of Literature (UK), and the “F” stands for “Fellow.”

    “The Royal Society of Literature comprises over 600 Fellows… To be nominated for fellowship, a writer must have published two works of literary merit…”

    Serving as a “Vice President” on the Council of the Royal Society of Literature is “Jenny Uglow, OBE, Benson Medallist,” the author of an unreadable Hogarth biography, which I discovered to my disgust possessed zero literary merit because the monstrosity ran 800 pages, all in miniature type.

    * * *

    05/26/20: This is a superb biography, written by a very, very thoughtful writer.

    — The only thing wrong with it is that the publisher stinted on its physical size; such a small volume diminishes the allure of its splendid value.

    Plus, the book omitted a Donaldson-dedicated page bibliography; listing them in italics in the index under “Donaldson” is helpful in itself but certainly not an adequate substitute.

    Also — and a paucity of these devices plague the UK books, leading the reader to either instantly or eventually not care who the hell is being referred to — there MUST be cross references in the Index of Title/Real Name, to wit:

    “Blandford, Marquess of, see Spencer-Churchill, Charles James,” and “Spencer-Churchill, Charles James, Marquess of Blandford, 224.”

    — Blacker certainly had every right to toss their friendship out the window, thanks to Donaldson’s inane public stunts, yet he hung in there. What patience!

    In the 1990s, Blacker had become one of the targets of Donaldson’s “malevolent” comments in Donaldson’s column in the UK Independent.

    “But there was another problem. I was behaving badly in my marriage at the time and I would talk to Willie, telling him things about my life that I would tell virtually no one else. One day, I discovered that he was betraying confidences, and to disastrous effect. I was enraged and we had a row. Soon afterwards the references to me in his column became ruder” (pp. 263-64).

    This doesn’t make sense. Why would Blacker be telling ANYONE anything if that person is also a columnist who, IN PRINT, is mocking him?

    Were the confidential conversations (being violated) and the mockery occurring simultaneously?!

    — “Only when researching this book [after Donaldson’s death in 2005] have I discovered that, of course, he was sharing my intimacies around, too” (p. 246).

    This is an odd thing to say. Less than twenty pages later, we are told (above) that Blacker had discovered this fact while Donaldson was still alive.

    — 139 Elm Park Mansions, Chelsea, London, was Willie’s long-term and final residence. “Mansions” is a pretentious description, judging by the appearence of the structure. And while it was no trouble at all to find it on Google Maps, I had a devil of a time trying to get a good photo of the group of buildings that appear to be rental apartments.

    Finally, I settled for an angle way down the block from the front entrance, and clicked “print” with the setting on “Color.”

    Out came, instead, a black-and-white photo, a spooky thing that could easily have been a setting for Dark Shadows, the ridiculous 1960s “American Gothic soap opera” that never found a suitable grave from which to be broadcast.

    The photo has a stark and eerie beauty to it that could not possibly be rivaled by any portrait created in color, for which I am grateful.

    — Long prior to meeting “You Cannot,” I seriously thought about digging up everything available on Richard Ingrams (Private Eye satirist, editor), yet the more I read about him, the less I wanted to know to any further extent and quickly dropped the idea.

    I am glad now that I did, for someone could have written an entire masterpiece about Willie Donaldson’s splendid acts of sarcasm directed towards Ingrams (pp. 194-5 contains diamonds, and p. 196 summarizes their “feud”).

    In fact, I’m sorry Blacker (our biographer) didn’t dig up every single reference Williamson made in Ingram’s direction, the only possible excuse for prolonging the book past page 300 (yes, this is yet another overlong book that should have stopped exactly on that number, like a roulette wheel ball).

    Peter Cook and Willie “met up occasionally and compared notes about drugs. It was Cook, Willie would later claim, who suggested that he try ecstasy. ‘If you take it, you will love everybody,’ Cook had promised. ‘You’ll even like Richard Ingrams.’ Willie took some ecstasy while in Ibiza, but didn’t get on with it. His view of Ingrams remained unchanged” (p. 273. That last sentence is an ideal rendition of Willie’s deadpan tone in Brewster’s Rogues).

    — The outré Sebastian Horsley had “stolen” Mensa practitioner Rachel Garley away from Donaldson (it isn’t what it sounds like but whatever).

    The copyright of the book is 2007 (13 years ago). How did our merry little actors in “You Cannot” fare after publication?

    Well, surprise, surprise. Horsley, 47 in 2010, died of a massive heroin/cocaine OD.

    If the statements of these shady characters — You should have seen who attended the funeral! — are reliable, he was last seen by Rachael on June 15, 2010. Rachel was also the person who found his body, on June 17, 2010 (MVMD; TT Venus 150* Pluto 06/18/10 1:18 am London).

    (Date sources UK Express and Getty photo caption, 05/27/20.)

    — Further digging led to the discovery of an event occurring three years later:

    “Sincere apologies to Rachel Garley

    “Evening Standard Monday 23 September 2013

    “Londoner’s Diary

    “In our diary article ‘Museum finally signs its deal to be fine and dandy’ (August 7, 2013) we referred to the exhibition of the late Sebastian Horsley’s suits at the Museum of London and the Whoresley show, an exhibition of his pictures at the Outsiders Gallery.

    “By unfortunate error we referred to Rachel Garley, the late Sebastian Horsley’s girlfriend, who arranged the exhibitions, as a prostitute.

    “We accept that Ms Garley is not and has never been a prostitute. We offer our sincere apologies to Ms Garley for the damage to her reputation and the distress and embarrassment she has suffered as a result.’

    “Unfortunate error” Issue Date: August 7, 2013

    [MVMD; TT Mercury 135* Chiron 2 am; TT JUPITER 180* PLUTO 11:23 pm!]

    Apology Date: September 23, 2013

    [MVMD; TT Zero.]

    Our Motto: “No Rush! All good things in due time.”

    — Horsley’s Wikipedia profile contains this deathless sentence:

    “His mother, the former Valerie Edwards, was a Welsh typist.”

    I take it that Horsley was replaced almost immediately by Elon Musk.

    — Incredibly, Rachel Garley’s date of birth is nowhere to be found.

    * * *

    Excellent book. We’ll stop here, having nowhere else to go and nothing else to say.

    [End]

    Like

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