Waugh meets a Lancing Old Boy at the Dorchester

The EWS thanks Mr. Ric Cooper for the following delightful anecdote, which arrived by email:

My father, Giles Cooper, dramatised Sword of Honour for BBC television in 1966. Before the project could be confirmed, he and his long-time collaborator Donald McWhinnie were summoned to meet Evelyn Waugh at the Dorchester, where the author was staying early that year. McWhinnie was an enormously experienced radio and TV director, having worked closely with most of the great dramatists of the day, including Samuel Beckett, Jean Anouilh and Harold Pinter.

The mood of the interview—for such it definitely was—began awkwardly, but brightened when Waugh enquired where each had gone to school, despite them being in their late forties. While McWhinnie had attended a grammar school in Lancashire, my father had been at Lancing, some 15 years after Waugh himself. Drinks appeared and an increasingly jolly session ensued, until it was time to leave.

In the hallway of Waugh’s suite was a large floral display of red and white roses. He plucked one of each from the vase, snapped off the stems, and placed the white bloom in McWhinnie’s buttonhole and the red one in my father’s, with the mischievous comment, "Innocence….and experience." 

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