Yes, You Have No Bananas

The Toronto Globe and Mail has an opinion article entitled: “Shakespeare’s children: Should artists have kids?” This is by writer Tom Rachman (best known for his novel The Imperfectionists) and opens with this:

After years of grey deprivation during the Second World War, the British celebrated victory in yellow: Each child was to receive a banana. Among the lucky kids were the offspring of the novelist Evelyn Waugh, who first explained to his kin how to prepare this exotic delicacy: Peel it, then slice, add a drizzle of cream, a dazzle of sugar. At which point, he devoured all three bananas “before the anguished eyes of his children,” as one bitterly recalled in adulthood.

The story is part of the Wavian apocrypha and is recorded in Auberon Waugh’s autobiography Will This Do?, p, 67. The bit about his father’s explaining to the children how a banana is eaten and demonstrating how to peel and slice it is not in Auberon’s version. The article goes on to examine other examples of artistic parental misbehavior from Dickens to V S Naipaul (who had no children but in their absence behaved abominably toward his first wife) but concludes that there may be exceptions.

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