Must You Go? (Antonia Fraser)

Nymphaea Black Princess Water Lily

One half of the TVC team considers published diaries and collections of letters to be a lazy form of memoir.  This review is written by that half.  In the opinion of this half, plodding through a (probably) heavily edited and unsynthesised lot of journal entries or epistles is an unedifying and disjointed experience.  And so it is with “Must You Go?“, Lady Antonia Fraser’s annotated diary of her time with the late Harold Pinter – who, as a playwright was master of the notorious, enigmatic pause.  Pinter was also an actor and political activist, particularly in the causes of the Yugoslavia, Czechoslovakia…

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My History: A Memoir of Growing Up

Dragon School, Oxford. Not my alma mater.

(by Lady Antonia Fraser) It would be unfair for me to compare Lady Antonia Fraser’s  first volume of memoirs with that of her cousin, Ferdinand Mount because in many aspects  Fraser had the (early) life and has had the career that I wanted, whereas I felt only the vaguest envy for Mount’s connections and have never aspired to working for Margaret Thatcher. While growing up  in the hideous new lower-middle-class outer suburb of Dust in South Australia, attending Dust Primary and High Schools, I knew that I really belonged in a large nook-filled house in Oxford, attending a private school, learning Latin and Greek in preparation for Oxford, in its turn a preparation…

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Cold Cream: My Early Life & Other Mistakes

(by Ferdinand Mount) (2008) It will come as no surprise to the reader that the “cold cream” of the title is the Pond’s cold cream used as a cure-all by the writer’s mother when he was a child.  Somewhat less commonplace is the probable reason for Mrs Mount’s adherence to the unpleasant ointment – she earned a lifetime’s supply as a result of having spruiked it before her marriage – “Lady Julia Pakenham says she owes her flawless complexion to Pond’s Cold Cream”. Lady Julia, the youngest daughter of the 5th Earl of Longford KC,  married Robert Francis (“Robin”) Mount who, when at…

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Peggy Guggenheim

December 29, 2015 | Posted by Peter Jakobsen | ART, Biography, Documentary, THUMBNAIL REVIEWS |

The Life of an Art Addict (Anton Gill) (2002) Peggy Guggenheim: Art Addict (Dir. Lisa Immordino Vreeland) She was the Art Groupie par excellence, with more passion and panache than learning or taste, but she brought work to the attention of her rich friends and thereby both sustained talent and helped corrupt the art market.  Gill’s work is like a non-fiction Apes of God: bitchy, knowing and a huge laugh. Ms Vreeland, in presenting an essentially linear, coherent, and interesting documentary, has unearthed some biographical material taped in the late 1970s (the subject died in 1979) and padded it nicely with film,…

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Unfaithful Music & Disappearing Ink

December 21, 2015 | Posted by Peter Jakobsen | Biography, Modern Music, THUMBNAIL REVIEWS |

(By Elvis Costello) (2015) We’ve been admiring EC from afar and occasionally up close, for a very long time.  So we come to his autobiography with relish and trepidation.  It is not as good as Speak Memory, the greatest autobiography ever penned, but it is hugely impressive – more a dense memory-book than a straight auto-biog, and much more concerned with music and music people than his own ego. He is obviously and rather charmingly challenged by autobiography, preferring the more oblique method of song lyrics and anecdotes, and saying of the process: “I don’t much care for the subject.”…

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