Scribble, Scribble, Mr Waugh

In their Daily Express column, Richard and Judy are reminded of Evelyn Waugh in a noisy pub where they can hardly here a conversation:

But then the background cacophony dropped momentarily, just long enough for me to pick up a patrician, upper-class drawl saying: “Of course, my dear, if he hadn’t been your grandfather he never would’ve got a single, solitary f***.”

Uhh?!? I spun around from our table. Impossible to detect where the remark had originated as the background sound level surged to deafening again.

But I spotted a suspect. A well-known stage actress with a much older man I reckoned was probably her agent. If Evelyn Waugh were still with us he’d have scribbled the remark down for his next novel.

Perhaps they were reminded of the incident described by Waugh in his diaries when he was a schoolteacher in Wales. This is included in a report in the North Wales newspaper the Daily Post about the real life counterpart of the Llanaba School from Decline and Fall (known as Arnold House):

Depressed by the spartan atmosphere at Arnold House Waugh often sought solace in the local pub Fair View Inn – known as “Mrs Roberts’ pub” in both his diaries and in Decline and Fall. Waugh’s diary entry made on March 16, 1925, said he went to the Fair View where a eunuch taught him a toast in Welsh. He wrote it down on an envelope which he later lost. However, it meant ‘Here’s success to the temperance workers’.

There is also a quote from a student who attended the school when Waugh was a teacher:

…Tim Kershaw, of Preswylfa, in Tyn-y-Groes, contacted the Weekly News in 1988, with his memories of one of England’s most revered writers. He said: “I remember Waugh well.” Tim went to the school in 1925 as a boy of nine. He was glad he wasn’t in Waugh’s class as “he was very sarcastic, which doesn’t go down well with little boys of nine. “Once I ran out of writing paper in a school exam, and had to go to his desk to ask for more.He looked at me with some disgust, and said: ‘Filthy little boy, you’ve got ink on your face.’ When I had to go back for more paper sometime later, he remarked ‘Filthy little boy, you’ve still got ink on your face.’ I thought this was a bit unreasonable, but got even with him on a school walk, when I pushed a snail down his neck.” The boarding house where the children slept is still called Arnold House and is presently a sheltered housing for vulnerable adults.

Finally, the Guardian reports the death of a Waugh fan. This is Andrew Keogh a London barrister who recently died at the age of 66. According to the obituary:

He enjoyed Indian, Greek and Italian food, good wine, especially Malbec, and real ale, especially Young’s bitter, marijuana, the novels of Evelyn Waugh, and the music of the Grateful Dead, New Riders of the Purple Sage and Bob Marley and the Wailers.

The Guardian also reports that he was a convert from Roman Catholicism to Anglicanism and “author of the longstanding White Rabbit blog, of two published novels, twentytwelve (2006), and The Killing Room (2013), and of the unfinished Diary of a Jobbing Barrister.” Sounds like an interesting guy.

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