Friday 9 December 2022

A Birthday, A Theoretical Move, and a Missing Will

 On Wednesday it was (as my more calendar-minded readers might be vaguely aware) my birthday, the date on which Tom Waits and I hit the age of 73. It was probably less of a surprise to Tom, who was, he claims, born old, feeling from his earliest years like a gnarled veteran from another time (and developing a voice to fit: Waits in his twenties sounded like anyone else in their seventies). The day turned out to be too busy for blogging: as well as the traditional pomp and pageantry of a Nige birthday, there was also the little business of our having taken possession, at last, of a house in Lichfield. The possession, however, is so far looking like a legal fiction, as the previous owner, having grievously underestimated the time required for packing and moving house, was, when last heard of, still busy clearing the place. Happily we have the Lichfield flat to live in while we wait – and, less happily, we have been too busy with other things to do anything about this bizarre situation. Perhaps at the weekend we'll manage to get across the threshold – or maybe next week, who knows...
   Meanwhile, I have been managing to find odd moments of reading time, and have embarked on the autobiography I recently mentioned – The Missing Will by Michael Wharton. Who could resist a memoir whose first chapters are titled 'The Deformative Years' and 'Whining and Dining' (the latter covering Oxford and after)? Wharton's Oxford years were devoted to getting drunk, striking poses of various kinds, and committing acts of extreme foolishness, while attending no lectures and very few tutorials, handing in heavily plagiarised essays, and reading anything but what was on the curriculum. Very much like my own Cambridge years in fact, mutatis mutandis. I have to say that, so far, The Missing Will is proving one of the most entertaining autobiographies I have read in recent years.

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