know anything about life'. Well, anyone who could write The Great Gatsby was SHALLOW RETURNS entitled to be all the time a touch arrogant right out of sight, must have reinforced and, occasionally, wrong — as in this in Not Drowning the hostess's openly declared attitude to stance. wards democracy: 'The majority rules ex But Waving Edith Wharton did know something about cept when everybody is wrong but me'. life: she knew the most important thing Soon after that beanfeast I read that In the 1940s the teams of the BBC's there is to know and she expressed it in 'Dear Bill' Deedes had been further hon Transatlantic quiz included such formid this saying which I cherish: oured — with a peerage. Now there's a able intellectuals as Thomas Bodkin, surprise! Christopher Morley and Denis Brogan; 'IF YOU MAKE UP YOUR MIND NOT and once they were joined by David TO BE HAPPY THERE'S NO REASON No less surprising in its way, but infinitely Niven. On that occasion it was almost WHY YOU SHOULDN'T HAVE A more deserved, was the honour conferred midway through the programme before FAIRLY GOOD TIME.' on my erstwhile boss, editor and business the London questionmaster said with ob partner — and continuing friend - Clive Robert Shallow may be unveiled in Frank vious surprise and relief: Bingley. For the Library Association to Atkinson's Dictionary of Literary Pseudo have offered him an Honorary Fellowship 'Ah, David Niven?' nyms, the fourth edition of which is and for Clive to have accepted it, evokes a shortly to appear under the Old Bingley Niven's response was much more memor whole clutch of Biblical quotations. They imprint. able than even a correct answer would range from: 'The contention was so sharp have been. He is, of course, Frank Atkinson, lately between them that they departed asunder of the City of London Libraries, and now 'I haven't anything to contribute really', one from the other' (Acts 15, 39) to Librarian at St Paul's Cathedral. he stammered, 'I just wanted to say hello.' 'Come now, therefore, and let us take counsel together' (Nehemia 6, 7) and It is now fifteen years since the publication finally: 'I say unto you, there is joy in the of the first Shallow end and some three presence of the angels of God over one years or so since the last one. I appreciate Robert Shallow sinner that repenteth'(Luke 15, 10). that neither of those two facts is a com pelling reason for even a single reappear Yet the greatest astonishment to me was ance; but I, too, just wanted to say hello. caused by the recent announcements of retirements; for there was a name which Hello! And that makes a cheerful change will always be the caption under my men from all the recent long goodbyes, includ tal picture of a sharp-faced, sharp-minded ing those to two talented Yorkshiremen, lad who favoured canary pullovers — Jim Laker and James Mason; to brave Peter Pocklington. But then, during a Dora Russell, to Simone de Beauvoir and year when that ageless star of the north, Helen Gardner; and the one, determinedly south and the Middle East — Past Presi secular and jazzy in a sacred setting, to dent Godfrey Thompson — has started to Philip Larkin — gentle Mr Larkin — on a draw hisOld Age Pension (or, more likely, day when the bitterest of winds was have it credited to an account in the Cay scything across Parliament Square and man Islands) nothing should surprise us. through the Abbey. (Incidentally, after That youthful Senior Citizen could usually the memorial service (he Grim Reaper be relied upon to take an opposite view must have cast a speculative eye on to whatever I propounded in the Shallow AMERICAN Larkin's friend B C Bloomfield, striding end. The pieces he most strongly disagreed into that wind in a light weight raincoat with were those in which I suggested that BOOKS and hatless. Thus far, however, Barry has things were better when we were young (I survived.) AND wrote that sort of stuff, please bear in mind, in the early 1970s — the cradle Another survivor against the odds is the PERIODICALS Thatcher Administration; but the bunker days of (he nostalgia industry) and those wherein was embodied what some con mentality which the Leader is evincing in sidered my gloomy pessimism or, as he dicates that if it survives much longer it saw it, my miserable sodism. will do so, for the most part, in a world —current of its own. The final slide towards that Of the former type, Worse and worse and Wonderland was probably signalled by or worse (July 1973) upset Godfrey so the report, on the Times's Court and much that he spent a whole midday out-of-print- Social page, of a dinner given by the Prime drinking session carping and complaining Minister on 5 June 1986. and, consequently, didn't have the time That soup-and-fish offering at Number 10 to go to the bar once. Downing Street was slated to be 'in Of the latter sort, Mad in pursuit (Sept honour of Mr William Deedes'. After such ember 1973) drew a long letter of ap Specialities: a start, where could surrealism lead? Why, proval from Bernard Palmer (the then to the guest list, of course; and what an Education Officer of the Library Associ Search Service abundance of mad halters was there: Paul ation) but not one syllable of the same Johnson and Sir Keith Joseph; Charles Building Collections from GT. Much later, however, I came Wintour and Norman St John Stevas; across a saying of Edith Wharton, the Peregrine Worsthorne and Norman Tebbit; American novelist and short story writer, T E Utley and Lord Bruce-Gardyne; Mal which not only supported the thesis of colm Muggeridge and Lord King of Wart- that particular article, but also summed it naby; also one dormouse, disguised as a ALBERT J . PHIEBIG Inc., up perfectly. Foreign Secretary. In addition, there was ABAA We know, of course, that Mrs Wharton a character who must have been doubly Box 352, White Plains, was not in the heavyweight class of philo welcome at the table, having the twice- N.Y. 10602 + 0352/USA sophers. In fact, she was the lady to whom blessed name of Mrs Money-Coutts. F Scott Fitzgerald said on first meeting The sparkling interchange of social and her: 'The matter with you is you don't political comment, from extreme right to
New Library World – Emerald Publishing
Published: Nov 1, 1986
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