The Richmond Magazine November issue focuses on all things local from properties to fashion, we take a deep dive into the local area.
YOUTH, they say, is wasted on the young. No kidding. Back in the salad days of 1981, when I was green in judgement, I found myself on the horns of a televisual dilemma.
One option was to spend Tuesday nights in front of ITV’s new adaptation of Evelyn Waugh’s Brideshead Revisited, before catching up with my homework on Wednesdays.
Alternatively, I could put in the hours on Tuesday, leaving Wednesday nights free to watch the BBC’s rival drama The Borgias – an impenetrable hotchpotch of medieval mayhem that was, quite possibly, the worst piece of broadcasting since Lord Haw-Haw stopped transmitting from Berlin. I chose The Borgias.
So, while the rest of the nation was drowning in honey – lost in Arcadia with Anthony Andrews, Jeremy Irons et al – I was holding out for my weekly Wednesday fix of stabbings, slayings and assorted orgiastic shenanigans of a kind to make the Whore of Babylon blush.
Well, it was history, wasn’t it? I suppose I thought that I might learn something. Man, I got that bit right.
Even as the weeks rolled by, and the folly of my lamentable choice became clear, I stubbornly clung on, trying desperately to get a handle on the plot. But to no avail.
As one critic put it, it was impossible to work out who anyone was – all except for “that fat bloke in the long white dress”. He meant the Pope.
I’ve long since made up for my error, mind you, having watched, read, eaten, drunk and slept Brideshead Revisited to distraction during the intervening years. It is, in fact, my favourite novel.
So, for this issue, it was a pleasure to interview Duncan McLaren (p14), author of a forthcoming Waugh biography, and to be asked to chair an event at this month’s Richmond Literature Festival with Duncan and Jeremy Lewis, a new biographer of Graham Greene and his remarkable family.
The festival turns 20 this year, so we’ve dug out a few intriguing quotes from our pieces on past speakers (p19), while Samantha Laurie has a thought-provoking interview (p10) with Melissa Benn – daughter of Tony – whose views on education are as lively as you would expect.
But it’s not all good news. Browsing the web this week, I couldn’t help noticing that Jeremy Irons, star of that Brideshead series 30 years ago, has recently been in a new TV drama for Sky Atlantic – about the flipping Borgias. Sorry, Jez. I’m afraid I gave it a miss.