The Catholic Herald has published a remembrance of Auberon Waugh by Richard Ingrams. This is occasioned by the recent collection of Auberon’s articles in A Scibbler in Soho. Ingrams was editor of both Private Eye and The Oldie when Auberon was a contributor and also recalls his less well-remembered employment by the Catholic Herald. Here’s an excerpt:
The book contains many reminders of Waugh’s unique talents, including some welcome extracts from his long-running Private Eye Diary, in which he adopted the persona of a wealthy aristocrat consulted by politicians and in regular touch with members of the Royal Family. It was done so authoritatively that some readers believed him when, for example, he wrote that he had recently been enjoying tea and cucumber sandwiches with the Queen Mother and advising her about Edward Heath’s Conservative government. It may seem like a work of wild fantasy yet his Diary (reprinted in two books) gives a more convincing picture of the strange world of the 1970s than many a serious work of social history.
Apart from these extracts from Private Eye, I would have liked to see some of Waugh’s contributions to the Catholic Herald, to which he was recruited in 1963 to supply a column on current affairs for a weekly fee of eight guineas. It was to be the forerunner of many subsequent columns in a variety of magazines and newspapers and, looking back, Waugh considered that his CH contributions were “more reasonable and politely argued” than anything that came later. Nevertheless, they managed to provoke a storm of protest from readers, leaving Waugh with the constant fear of getting the sack, the eight guinea fee being his main source of income at the time.