Sunday 17 November 2019


I've just realised that today is Auberon Waugh's 80th birthday – or it would be if he were still with us. That eventuality was never very likely, though: not only did he have a poor genetic inheritance (his father, Evelyn, died at 62) but he was also a heroic smoker and drinker, and accident-prone, as was shown most dramatically when he inadvertently shot – and very nearly killed – himself with a machine gun while on national service in Cyprus. On that occasion, while lying on the ground waiting for the ambulance, he famously made a joke of his situation, inviting his platoon sergeant to 'Kiss me, Chudleigh.' Chudleigh, alas, did not catch the allusion.
  The joke was typical of Waugh's attitude to life in general, his refusal, or inability, to take anything too seriously. The injuries he sustained left him with health problems all his life, but Waugh barely acknowledged them. He died at the age of 61, in January 2001, working to the end as one of the most brilliant, funny and original journalists who ever lived. And, of course, he left half a dozen novels, several if which I've written about here. Happily his memory lives on, and he is still widely – and rightly – admired, perhaps rather more so than when he was still with us. It would be wonderful if he were alive today – England has need of him.


  1. Yes, I remember at the time of his passing, the utterly humorless Polly Toynbee seeing it as an opportunity to stick the boot into Bron and his 'class'. Would that she had a scintilla of his wit and, at times, wisdom. Or just making us laugh "Anyone might become homosexual after seeing Glenda Jackson naked"

  2. Hear hear. I wonder if La Toynbee ever actually met him – I know lefties who, firmly convinced he was a fascist monster, were instantly won over by his charm and evident good nature when they actually encountered him in the flesh.