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Sunday, 13 January 2013

Forever Young...

War and Pizza, Beryl Bainbridge on painting, Hank Wangford on Route 66... these are all in February's edition of 'The Oldie' magazine, devised and edited by  former Private Eye boss Richard Ingrams.  Never heard of it? That's because you're probably too young, and good things are wasted on the young, or so my mother used to say.

The Oldie  (personally I would have called it The Crabbie) is full of sarcasm, soliloquy and downright stubbornness - as you might expect - but then there's a whole lot more. Like Beryl Bainbridge, in her lesser known role  as a painter.  'She drew and painted her children, her best friends, her lovers with a carefree abandon she never experienced at her desk,' writes her friend Paul Bailey.

'As a novelist she liked to get every sentence right. "Why do we do it?" she would ask  whenever she was stuck in the middle of a book. The question was as painful as it was rhetorical, since she already knew the answer. The writing had to be done. Her publisher, Colin Haycraft at Duckworth, despised fiction and often said he would never read it, but Beryl's books kept his firm from bankruptcy because she was one of the very few authors on his list who ever made any money. He got into the habit of putting pressure on her to produce another novel, and she invariably obliged, staying up all night with a bottle of whisky and a packet of her cherished ciggies.'

To anyone who has attempted to write a work of fiction, that will sound very familiar. Beryl Bainbridge enjoyed painting because she wasn't in competition with other painters. 'There were no reviews to face and no criticism to cope with.'

So that's something else I've learned. Beryl's paintings are on display in the exhibition Beryl Bainbridge, Painter, at the Skyight Gallery, Museum of Liverpool, until April 28 2013.

And if you think I'm being paid to pour praise on the Oldie, you're very much mistaken. Come to think of it, I could be open to persuasion...




4 comments:

Jane Lovering said...

Oh, Beryl, I second your cry. 'Why do we do it?' Because, I suppose, when it's going well there's nothing quite like a story running away underneath you...

And I'm quite a fan of The Oldie too. Far too young, of course, a friend passes it on to me. And the SAGA magazine. Luckily, my children also pass NME on, just to balance things up.

Guernsey Girl said...

Great to hear from you, Jane, and glad you agree with Beryl. Incidentally, I used to buy the NME when it was called 'New Musical Express..!'

Maha Ali said...
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Annesphamily said...

I love art and this caught my attention. You write so wonderfully but I do know how painful it is to try to find those exact things to say and words to use! Thanks for sharing a terrific hero story again!