Saturday, November 02, 2019

Wonderfully incorrect …

… Rosemary Hill reviews ‘A Scribbler in Soho’ edited by Naim Attallah — LRB 7 November 2019. (Hat tip, Dave Lull.)

His attitude to truth is best described as dynamic. In the aftermath of the shooting, he recounted, his corporal of horse, Chudleigh, ‘a tough Bristolian’, had looked at him so solemnly ‘that I could not resist the temptation to say: “Kiss me, Chudleigh.”’ Having failed to get the historical reference, Chudleigh treated him ‘with some caution’ thereafter. Chudleigh himself denied the exchange had ever taken place and Waugh concludes: ‘I have told the story so often now that I honestly can’t remember whether it started life as a lie.’ The ability to blend truth with invention on a sliding scale from the plausible to the surreal was the key to Auberon Waugh’s Diary, a column that ran in Private Eye from 1972 until 1985, which he regarded as his greatest achievement, and in which he claimed, with justice, to have invented a new form, ‘a work of pure fantasy, except that the characters in it were real’.

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