WHEN WAUGH MET ORWELL

or


"DOUBLEPLUSGOOD, JEEVES"





ONE: INTRO

At the end of June, 2018, I received an email. It begins pleasantly enough, and ends up giving me something to get stuck into. Which is how I like it.


Dear Duncan,

Chanced upon your remarkable web pages on Evelyn Waugh after a search about John Betjeman (whose poems I was looking at) reminded me that it was he with the teddy bear at Oxford who gave the model for Aloysius. I had no idea until I read this up how attached he was to the bear, in later life he wrote a book for children featuring said bear.

Your site is an absolute treasure trove (not quite a crock of gold!) for me as I have always been a collector of details on Waugh. I come from near Combe Florey (born near Taunton) and have (very briefly) visited when I was down seeing my parents some years ago. I wish I had spent longer there - saw Auberon's grave as well as what I suppose is Waugh's although it was railed off. I have spells when I completely forget about him and then something random - the bear - sets off a whole train of investigations. I think it was the way that he synthesised elements of his life into Brideshead which is so remarkable.

Anyway, I have only just started reading your excellent essays on him but have been stunned by the trove of info on Alistair Graham - in biographies of Waugh he is usually limited to a very brief appearance in the Oxford days - I had no idea of the length of his connection to Waugh nor of his subsequent history - on that basis I have got Duncan Fallowell's book - a character who seems as if he could have walked out of Brideshead as well!

I have also just reserved a copy of your book Evelyn! - delighted that our local library here in Norwich holds a copy.

Now to my enquiry, as an ardent Orwell fan (as well - btw have you seen or read about the book: 'The Same Man' that argues about the similarities - despite the popularly conceived differences between Orwell and Waugh - link here) I have always been massively intrigued by the visit that Waugh paid to Orwell (Blair) when he was in Cranham sanatorium in Gloucestershire in 1949 when Waugh lived at Piers Court. A friend of Waugh's persuaded him to visit the dying Orwell and I would love to know what they spoke of - Waugh apparently reported of the meeting that Orwell was 'Close to God' a phrase that has such an echo in Lord Marchmain's death. Just before his death Orwell was planning an essay on Waugh - which he never started although he left some notes, he clearly admired his style and stated that he was 'just about as good a writer can be whilst holding totally untenable views' (ie Catholicism, high Toryism etc).

Keep up the good work!

Kind regards,

Colin Roy


I was writing about Waugh and Picasso when the above came in. But once the first of what will be two Picasso pieces was complete, I ordered
The Same Man and sat down with it. Fascinating book, only published in the States for some reason. It makes the point that Waugh and Orwell were born in the same year, in the same class (both went to public school) and went on to be highly disapproving of the Modern age.

Only one of them consistently made sure that he got enough to eat. Guess who?

Screen shot 2018-07-15 at 15.33.34
Jacket design by Catherine Casalino

Other differences existed. Waugh was religious, while Orwell wasn't. And Orwell was a socialist, while Waugh was nothing of the kind. Guess which of them most often said: "Pass the port, Cyril,"?

I went straight to the book's chapter eight, 'The Meeting', and took in the gist of what happened. Waugh met Orwell in the summer of 1949, when Orwell was in the Cotswold Sanatorium, about 20 miles from Piers Court. It is not known what they discussed.

Fine. That is my (self-selected) job: to find out what they talked about. Indeed, after a single day's research, I have already realised what Evelyn
intended that they talk about. I'm very excited by what seems to be a discovery.

You see, as Winston maintains for much of
Nineteen Eighty-Four,
2 + 2 = 4.

Up until now the Waugh literature has recognised one '2' and acknowledged another '2', but not thought to add them together.

Line up two particular letters from Evelyn Waugh to George Orwell and anyone should come to the right conclusion. 2 + 2 =

See what I mean?

That is unless they had an O'Brien breathing down their neck, insisting that: 2 + 2 = 5.

But there is no O'Brien in my life. No Big Brother. Doubleplusgood for me.

So stay tuned, gentle reader, as I milk this into however many green bottles it takes.



TWO: 1945

Orwell admired Evelyn Waugh for becoming a soldier and fighting for what he believed in during the Second World War, and wished more of his colleagues on the left had done the same. Orwell himself was not fit to fight in WW2 - following injuries sustained in the Spanish Civil War, fighting against Franco - but he did join the Home Guard and was a sergeant in the St John's Wood Company in London.

It was in 1945 that Orwell came to Waugh's attention. He wrote a piece 'In Defence of PG Wodehouse' that appeared in
The Windmill in July of that year. Wodehouse had long been a favourite writer of Waugh's. And when Wodehouse got into trouble for making broadcasts from Berlin in 1941, Waugh felt that the label of 'traitor' was most inappropriate. So did Orwell, who also looked upon Wodehouse as a literary master. And his saying so in print, coming from the political left, was particularly effective.

Anyway, the summer of 1945 was when
Animal Farm came out and Waugh wrote to Orwell as follows:

**********************************************************************
Dear Mr Orwell,
I am most grateful to you for sending me a copy of your ingenious and delightful allegory.
It was, of course, one of the books I was seeking to buy, and, of course, finding sold-out everywhere.
Yours sincerely,
Evelyn Waugh


**********************************************************************

Waugh's diary confirms that he 'greatly enjoyed'
Animal Farm. 1945 was also when Brideshead Revisited came out. Orwell would have read it that year but it wasn't until 1948 that he mentioned this in letters. More on the impact of Brideshead on Orwell later. Much more.

Following the success of
Animal Farm, Orwell's publisher brought out Collected Essays, ten critical essays, including the defence of Wodehouse.

orwell_0001


Waugh reviewed it in the Catholic paper
The Tablet, greatly admiring Orwell's logic and style. A work of 'absorbing interest', Waugh said. The essays 'represent at its best the new humanism of the common man.' Waugh suggested that of the new critics, rather than the old mandarins, 'Orwell is outstandingly the wisest'.

Waugh continues:
'"The Art of Donald McGill" is perhaps the masterpiece of the book, an analysis of the assumptions of the vulgar postcard.'

Here is an example of McGill's art:

Screen shot 2018-07-10 at 21.35.00
Postcard design by Donald McGill

Of McGill's saucy postcards, Orwell had written: 'What they are doing is to give expression to the Sancho Panza view of life, the attitude to life that Miss Rebecca West once summed up as "extracting as much fun as possible from smacked behinds in basement kitchens".

By 1946, with Evelyn Waugh happily sponging his aspidistra in the library of Piers Court post-
Brideshead, Orwell had exiled himself to the remote end of a remote Scottish island in order to write 1984.

But let us pause a moment to celebrate Waugh and Orwell having come across each other and having found something life-affirming in common: P. G. Wodehouse.

In Orwell's essay on Wodehouse, he identifies three stages in the Master's career. The first is the school story, the next is the American tale and the third is the country house extravaganza. In the middle of the essay, Orwell twice mentions the 1915 book,
Something Fresh. And, having a copy of that novel to hand, I soon had what follows below. Call it a simultaneous homage to PG Wodehouse, George Orwell and Evelyn Waugh. Call it: 2 + 2 + 2 = 6. Certainly, that's what was in my mind when I wrote it.

SOMETHING FRESH

Evelyn Waugh forced himself to the table, and as he began to try to concoct the latest of the adventures of Basil Seal, his spirit groaned within him.

Waugh found himself wishing that he had never thought of Basil Seal, that the better-educated elements of the British reading public had never taken him for their hero, and that he personally was dead.

The unholy alliance had been in progress now for more than ten years, and it seemed to Waugh that Seal grew less human each outing. He was so complacent and so maddeningly blind to the fact that only the most amazing luck enabled him to achieve anything. To depend on Basil Seal for one’s income was like being chained to some horrible monster.

This morning, as Waugh sat and chewed his pen, his loathing for Seal seemed to have reached its climax. It was his habit, in writing all his stories, to think of a good title first, and then fit an adventure to it. And overnight, in a moment of inspiration, he had jotted down on an envelope the words:

BASIL SEAL AND THE WAND OF DEATH

It was with the sudden revulsion of a vegetarian who finds a caterpillar in his salad that he now sat glaring at them.

The title had seemed so promising overnight, so full of strenuous possibilities. It was still speciously attractive, but, now that the moment had arrived for writing the story, its flaws became manifest.

What was a Wand of Death? It sounded good, but, coming down to hard facts, what was it? You cannot write a story about a wand of death without knowing what a wand of death is; and, conversely, if you have thought of such a splendid title, you cannot jettison it offhand.

Waugh rumpled his hair, and gnawed his pen.

Then came a knock at the door.

“Come in,” Waugh shouted, welcoming the distraction.

A complete stranger walked in. Said stranger knew himself by the name of George Orwell, though he had been christened Eric Blair.

“I’m afraid I’m disturbing you.”

“No, no,” said Waugh. “Oh, no, not at all, not at all, no, oh no, not at all, no,” and would have continued to play upon the theme indefinitely, had not he suddenly caught sight of the sheet of paper over which he had been poring so long.

“What is a wand of death?”

“I beg your pardon.”

“A wand of death.”

“I don’t understand.”

The delirium of the conversation was too much for Waugh. He burst out laughing. A moment later Orwell did the same. And simultaneously embarrassment ceased to be.

“I suppose you think I’m mad,” said Waugh.

“Certainly,” said Orwell.

“Well I should have been if you hadn’t come in.”

“Why was that?”

“I was trying to write a novel.”

“I was wondering if you were a writer.”

“Do you write?”

“Yes. Do you ever read “Home Gossip”?

“Never.”

"I congratulate you. It’s a horrid little paper, all brown-paper patterns and advice to the love-lorn. I do a short story for it every week, under various names. A duke or a tramp goes with each story. I loathe it intensely.”

“I am sorry for your troubles,” said Waugh firmly, “but we are wandering from the point. What is a wand of death?”

Orwell frowned reflectively.

“Why, of course it’s the sacred ebony stick stolen from the Indian temple which is supposed to bring death to whoever possesses it. The hero gets hold of it, and the priests dog him and send him threatening messages. What else could it be?”

Waugh could not restrain his admiration.

“This is genius!”

“Oh, no.”

“Absolute genius. I see it all. The hero is Basil Seal, and that patronising ass, by the aid of a series of wicked coincidences, solves the mystery, and there I am with another year’s work done.”

Orwell looked at Waugh with interest.

“Are you the author of 'Put Out More Flags'?”

“Don’t tell me you read him!”

“I do not read him. But he is published by the same firm that publishes ‘Home Gossip’, and I can’t help seeing his cover sometimes while I am waiting in the waiting-room to see the editor.”

Waugh felt like one who meets a boyhood’s chum on a desert island. Here was a real bond between them.

“Do Chapman and Hall publish you too? Why, we are comrades in misfortune – fellow-serfs. We should be friends. Shall we be friends?

“I should be delighted.”

“Shall we shake hands, sit down, and talk about ourselves a little?”

“But I am keeping you from your work.”

“An errand of mercy.”

I wonder if that makes some kind of sense. Waugh and Orwell were linked not just by their admiration and respect for Wodehouse, but by shared craftsmanship, sense of humour, and much else it meant to be a writer born at the start of the 20th Century, public school educated and furiously independent-minded.

Come to think of it, the equation should probably read: 2 + 2 +
x = 4 + x.

Which isn't quite as impressive as I thought.

Or put it this way - is my 'Something Fresh' a purely self-indulgent digression?

Dear reader, I told you I was going to milk this.




THREE: 1948

By the end of 1947 Orwell had finished a first draft of
Nineteen Eighty-Four. That book so full of human frustration, piss-simple equations and despair.

Screen shot 2018-07-28 at 09.36.37
George Orwell, 1946. Estate of Vernon Richards

Orwell had also become seriously ill and was being treated for tuberculosis at Hairmyres Hospital near Glasgow from January to the end of July 1948. In that 7-month period, Waugh was on Orwell's mind and vice versa.

According to David Lebedoff, Waugh sent Orwell copies of
Black Mischief and A Handful of Dust 'early in 1948'. Why not Decline and Fall and Vile Bodies? Well, I think I have the answer to that. In the final volume of The Collected Works of George Orwell, there is an appendix which lists all the books in Orwell''s ownership when he died. Decline and Fall and Vile Bodies are on the list, in editions published by Chapman and Hall in 1947. Black Mischief and Handful of Dust are there, in editions published by Chapman and Hall in 1948. I would suggest that Evelyn had instructed his publisher to send Orwell copies of the uniform edition of his books as they came out.

What was taking up Waugh's energies in 1948? Hard to say, partly because Waugh was not keeping a diary. According to Martin Stannard,
'Each day, killing time, Waugh read his newspaper from front to back and did the crossword. Often he would use up his afternoons in the darkness of Dursley Cinema.'

In letters to his agent Waugh described himself as making progress on
Helena at the speed of a sentence a week. Perhaps the situation could be summarised as follows:

Woman A: “There’s Evelyn Waugh in the library of Piers Court neglecting his Helena!”

Woman B: "What's he doing instead?"

Woman A: "Sponging his aspidistra."

Woman B: "Will you be reporting his disgusting behaviour to Big Brother?"

Woman A: "Just as soon as I get to my desk in The Ministry of Love.”


On the 21st of June, 1948, Waugh wrote for a second time to Orwell. (It's the second Waugh to Orwell letter in
The Letters of Evelyn Waugh, anyway, and Lebedoff does not suggest there are any more letters as such.) The letter begins: 'Perhaps in hospital any letters are quite welcome even from a stranger.' Which confirms that Waugh and Orwell had not met by this time, despite the flow of books between each other, Orwell having had a copy of the reissued Coming Up For Air sent to Piers Court.

The whole of the letter is about a PG Wodehouse book that had been brought to Waugh's attention:
The Swoop or How Clarence Saved England, 'published by Alston Rivers in 1909 with some beastly illustrations by Harrison'. Were the illustrations sub-standard? Below is the cover. Clarence reminds me of the Evelyn of Ninety-Two Days . The Evelyn that got lost up the Amazon.

Screen shot 2018-07-26 at 20.26.26

Waugh thought
The Swoop to be extremely pertinent to Orwell's essay in defence of P.G. Wodehouse. The theme of the book, Waugh tells Orwell, is the simultaneous invasion of England by the armies of Germany, Russia, China, Morocco, etc. 'The population, with the exception of the Boy Scouts, are complacent. The worst atrocity is some soldiers marching over a golf links and failing to replace the divots.'

Waugh quotes Wodehouse:
'Thus was London bombarded. Fortunately it was August and there was no-one in town.' The boy-scout Clarence muses on: 'my country - my England, my fallen, my stricken England,' and is a figure of ridicule.

Waugh goes so far as to suggest that if Orwell ever thinks of revising his essay, then this book should certainly be mentioned. Waugh reckons it reads word for word like the Berlin broadcast - which he had been told by a friend of Wodehouse that he thought it 'one of the best things I ever did'.

Waugh's letter does not touch on anything else. Just finishes by saying that Orwell needn't reply, but that Waugh had felt compelled to write, he'd been so excited at coming across this 'missing link' in their argument.

According to Lebedoff, in August 1948, Orwell wrote anonymously to the
TLS in response to an attack on Brideshead Revisited. D. S. Savage had sneered at Brideshead's immaturity. Orwell countered with 'Mr Savage can only see nostalgia for adolescence, and does not seem to have noticed that the essential theme of the book is the collision between ordinary decent behaviour and the Catholic concept of good and evil.' Just as the essential theme of Nineteen Eighty-Four could be said to be the collision between ordinary decent behaviour and Big Brother's totalitarian regime.

I think it can safely be said that Orwell had been thinking deeply about Waugh's novel and had allowed it to affect the composition of
1984. Indeed, there is an essay written by John Howard Wilson in 2011 called: Brideshead Revisited in NIneteen Eighty-Four: Evelyn Waugh's Influence on George Orwell. John has since died and his meticulous work will be missed, as will his generous nature. The 2011 essay makes the following points:

'Brideshead was published in May 1945, and at about the same time Orwell began to write Nineteen Eighty-Four.

'Orwell obviously liked the novel, but he could not accept the religion; his appreciation of Brideshead is limited, but perhaps the book prompted him to consider another kind of conversion, more political and even epistemological.

'Both books begin in the spring, and both are set in the ruins of twentieth-century civilization.'

Me: "That's pushing it a bit, John. The background to Orwell's work is much darker than Waugh's."

JHW: "I urge you to carry on with my article, Duncan. For old time's sake."

'In spite of discouraging settings, both novels portray ideal alternatives. Charles revisits Brideshead after many years and appears "unusually cheerful" at the end. Winston dreams of "the Golden Country," an "old, rabbit-bitten pasture" with a "clear, slow-moving stream," though Orwell omits Brideshead Castle. With his lover, Winston visits the Golden Country and experiences a "curious, slow shock of recognition", like Charles's realization that he has returned to Brideshead.

'The heroes are the same age, thirty-nine. Both fall in love with dark-haired heroines named Julia.'

Me: "Nice one, John."

JHW: "Thank-you, Duncan. Please carry on reading. We can come back to Julia."


'Waugh and Orwell both emphasized the difficulty of communicating with the working class. Most of Waugh's servants are only names, though he did create one memorable character in Nanny Hawkins. Orwell's workers are only proles, though the old man in the pub is funnier than any servant imagined by Waugh, at least in Brideshead.

'In addition to settings, characters, and language, many themes are also shared by Brideshead and Nineteen Eighty-Four. Perhaps the most obvious is memory. "My theme is memory," Charles announces in Brideshead, and most of the novel recounts the previous two decades. In Nineteen Eighty-Four, Winston is also preoccupied with the past: dismayed by his surroundings, he senses "some kind of ancestral memory that things had once been different"

'Both heroes are interested in the past because they are alienated from the present. When Charles learns that he is back at Brideshead, he feels "as though someone had switched off the wireless, and a voice that had been bawling in my ears, incessantly, fatuously, for days beyond number, had been suddenly cut short". In Nineteen Eighty-Four, Winston is conscious of an "interminable restless monologue that had been running inside his head, literally for years". The wireless annoys Charles; the telescreen plagues Winston. Both characters have lost their mothers, and both begin as misogynists. In Brideshead, Charles describes himself as "homeless, childless, middle-aged, loveless", and in Nineteen Eighty-Four, Winston responds to O'Brien's "equivocal glance" as an alternative to the "locked loneliness in which one had to live". Both novels depend on heroes whose alienation drives them to search for alternatives.'

Me" "Come on, John, you're milking this."

JHW: "That is the prerogative of the critic. As you very well know, Duncan."

Me: "Oh, no, not at all, not at all, no, oh no, not at all, no. On second thoughts,
you're right. Carry on."

'Both heroes marry, but both relationships are disastrous. Charles learns that his wife Celia has been "unfaithful," so he feels it is "all right ... to dislike her". When Charles and Celia meet again after two years of separation, Waugh suggests a dismal coition: "We lay in our twin beds, a yard or two distant, smoking". Orwell surpasses this scene by describing intercourse between Winston and his wife Katharine: "She would lie there with shut eyes, neither resisting nor co-operating, but submitting. It was extraordinarily embarrassing and, after a while, horrible".

Me: "2 + 2 = 4."

'After brief encounters with prostitutes, both heroes engage in adultery with heroines named Julia. In one of his worst passages, Waugh describes the coition of Charles and Julia: he is "made free of her narrow loins ... while the waves still broke and thundered on the prow". Orwell once again surpasses Waugh by refraining from description of enjoyable intercourse: Winston and Julia simply "tear off their clothes and make love with sweating bodies, then fall asleep".

Me: "2 + 2 = 4."

'In Brideshead, Charles and Julia decide to separate, whereas in Nineteen Eighty-Four, the Party forces Winston and Julia apart. The affairs may seem sterile, but the female perspectives and the traumatic break-ups deepen both heroes and propel them toward epiphanies.

Me: "2 + 2 = 4."

'Neither Charles nor Winston feels at home in any social setting: the upper class is unwilling to accept them, the middle class is contemptible, and the lower class is simply alien, practically a different species. Waugh is often accused of social climbing, and Orwell is known for tramping, but their views on social class are practically indistinguishable in these two novels.

Me: "2 + 2 = 4."

'In Brideshead, Charles befriends Sebastian, named for the saint who was, as Anthony Blanche says, stuck "full of barbed arrows like a p-ppin-cushion". In Nineteen Eighty-Four, Winston is tempted to tie Julia "naked to a stake and shoot her full of arrows like Saint Sebastian".

Me: "2 + 2 = 4."

'Brideshead opens with a reference to Oxford's bells ringing out "high and clear over her gables and cupolas" and later mentions the bells of St. Mary's and other churches. In Nineteen Eighty-Four, the Party has suppressed the Church, but Winston gradually learns a series of rhymes about church bells. He has "never in real life heard church bells ringing," but he enjoys the "illusion of actually hearing bells, the bells of a lost London that still existed somewhere or other, disguised and forgotten" .'

Me: "2 + 2 = 4. But tell me, John, is there much more of this?"

JHW: "I believe your correspondent, Colin Roy, bought a month's subscription to
Questia in order to access this essay. He might as well get his money's worth."

Me: "Carry on."

'To receive the last rites from Father Mackay, Lord Marchmain "has to make an act of the will". The parallel in Nineteen Eighty-Four is Winston's interrogation by O'Brien, who has the "air of a doctor, a teacher, even a priest, anxious to explain and persuade rather than to punish", and who claims that Party members are "the priests of power". As he inflicts pain, O'Brien insists that Winston must make "an effort of the will". In Brideshead, Lord Marchmain signals his faith in God, to the relief of his family, Charles, and many (though certainly not all) readers. In Nineteen Eighty-Four, Winston wills himself not to believe in God but to "become sane", at least according to the Party. He abandons all principles and capitulates to power, to the universal horror of readers.

Me: "2 + 2 = 5."

'Both novels are interested in suffering. In Brideshead, Sebastian's sister Cordelia claims that "No one is ever holy without suffering" . Sebastian suffers from alcoholism, Julia suffers the loss of a child, and Lord Marchmain suffers a lengthy terminal illness, but their experiences lead them back to the Roman Catholic Church. In Nineteen Eighty-Four, by contrast, suffering is no longer a means of revelation or transcendence. O'Brien asks how one person can assert power over another, and Winston answers, "By making him suffer." O'Brien agrees, adding that suffering is the only way to "be sure that he is obeying your will and not his own".

Me: "2 + 2 = 5."

'The resolutions of Brideshead and Nineteen Eighty-Four present two more similarities, betrayal and separation. In Brideshead, Julia's husband Rex betrays her, Charles's wife Celia betrays him, and both Julia and Charles return the favor by proving unfaithful. In Nineteen Eighty-Four, Winston betrays Katharine by making love to Julia, but Orwell takes this theme one step further. Winston continues to resist O'Brien by pointing out that he has "not betrayed Julia". When confronted with rats about to eat his face in Room 101, however, Winston implores his tormentors to torture Julia instead. When they meet for the last time, Winston and Julia admit that they have betrayed each other. Winston is repelled by the thought of intimacy, Julia looks at him with "contempt and dislike", and the former lovers drift apart. In Brideshead, Charles and Julia share a comparable scene, "a minute to say good-bye".

Me: "2 + 2 = 5."

'Love fails in both novels because the protagonists are converted to different ways of thinking. In Brideshead, Charles describes himself as an agnostic, but at the end, in the chapel, he says a prayer, "an ancient, newly learned form of words", since he has converted to Roman Catholicism. In Nineteen Eighty-Four, O'Brien describes Julia's response to torture as "a perfect conversion, a textbook case". Winston tries to resist, but he too is converted to love of Big Brother, and he considers it a "healing change".

Me: "2 + 2 = 5."

'The plots of the two novels are again similar, but their points are completely different. In Brideshead, the lives of other characters seem tragic to Charles, but religion leads him to believe that life has meaning and purpose after all. In Nineteen Eighty-Four, Winston tries to hold on to the value of individual life, but he is eventually forced to agree that meaning exists only in the collective entity of the state. Orwell may be trying to invert Waugh's message in Brideshead.'

Me: "2 + 2 = 5."

That's a meticulous essay by John Howard Wilson. Not sure that he has brought out the differences between draft one and draft two of 1984, but then it may have been impossible to access the manuscripts properly from Lock Haven University, Pennsylvania, where he was a Professor of English until his death in 2014. I miss him. I've said that before in these pages. As well as being a friendly, open and honest man, he was this website's principle supporter in it's early days.

Back out of hospital, Orwell completed a second and final draft of 1984 back at home on Jura. The first draft had begun with 'a million radios striking thirteen'. A Handful of Dust, which Orwell had by then read, ends with 'the clock chimed for the hour and solemnly struck fourteen'. Orwell's second draft begins: 'It was a bright cold day in April, and the clocks were striking thirteen.' So it's possible that Orwell revised the beginning of his novel from radios to clocks with the end of Waugh's in mind.

JHW: "2 + 2 = 5?"

Me: "You're right, John. Sorry about that."

In any case, with the second draft completed by the end of 1948, Orwell fell ill again. TB was a real scourge in these days, with little chance of a long-term cure.

orwell2
Orwell in the Canonbury Square Flat, 1946. Estate of Vernon Richards

Let's just pause there for a second. Isn't it strange that the heroines of both novels are called Julia?

For sure, Orwell named his main characters carefully. Winston was named after Winston Churchill, the name on everyone's lips in 1945. A man who had fought for freedom and who Orwell had a certain amount of respect for. A review of Churchill's
Their Finest Hour, was just about the only thing Orwell wrote for publication after abandoning the Waugh essay of 1949 that I am soon going to talk about.

And Julia? First and foremost, she was based on Sonia Brownell, the editorial assistant at
Horizon who Orwell had had a friendship and a fling with in 1946. However, the character was named Julia, because, as John Howard Wilson suggests, Orwell wanted to subtly signal that Nineteen-Eighty-Four was in important ways a riposte to Waugh's masterpiece; a tribute to it and a transformation of it.




FOUR: 1949

At the beginning of January, 1949, Orwell was transferred to Cotswold Sanatorium in Cranham, Gloucestershire. As far as I'm aware, there is not a single photograph taken of him lying in bed as he did most of the year, so I've had to use my imagination, bearing in mind Room 101 and a fear of rats attacking the face.

Screen shot 2018-07-27 at 11.12.14
Still from video Lazarus (2016). Directed by Johan Renck. Written by Renck and Bowie.

In the 1970s David Bowie approached the Orwell Estate hoping to use the text of
Nineteen Eighty-Four in his work. He was turned down, but pushed it as far as he could without permission. The 1974 album Diamond Dogs includes tracks 'We are the Dead', 'Big Brother' and 'The Everlasting Skeletal Family', a chant of a song which ends with the repeated refrain: "rat, rat, rat, rat, rat, rat, rat, rat, rat, rat, rat, rat, rat, rat, rat, rat, rat, rat,rat, rat, rat, rat, rat, rat, rat, rat, rat..."

Partly for that reason, stills from the video 'Lazarus' (a completely different project, nothing to do with Orwell), made a few months before Bowie died, seem to be an appropriate substitute for photos of the author of Nineteen Eighty-Four in the months before he died.

"Look up here, I'm in heaven
I've got scars that can't be seen
I've got drama, can't be stolen
Everybody knows me now."

Screen shot 2018-07-13 at 11.29.48
Still from video Lazarus (2016). Directed by Johan Renck. Written by Renck and Bowie.

In his diary, in March Orwell wrote:
'I live in a so-called chalet, one of a row of continuous wooden huts with glass doors, each chalet measuring about 15 feet by 12 feet. There are hot water pipes, a washing basin, a chest of drawers and wardrobe, besides the usual bed tables etc. Outside is a glass-roofed veranda. Everything is brought by hand – none of those abominable rattling trolleys, which one is never out of the sound of in a hospital.'

Although there are no photographs of Orwell living there, there is an old postcard view of the sanatorium.

Screen shot 2018-07-16 at 15.32.39

Cranham isn't so far from where Evelyn lived, about twenty miles north. In the map below, Piers Court (blue circle) is bottom left, the Cotswold Sanatorium (yellow circle) top right. Apparently, the chalet had a view west over the Severn to the Welsh mountains.

Screen shot 2018-07-17 at 13.47.54

In February 1949, Orwell's review of Waugh's 1947 book
Scott King's Modern Europe appeared on the front page of the New York Times Book Review. (The book was only published in the States in 1949, following the success there in the previous year of The Loved One.) While admiring the slight farce, Orwell makes the point that he wishes Waugh had made the fictional state of Neutralia a left-wing dictatorship rather than a right-wing one. The review is primarily political.

As mentioned earlier, in February 49, Orwell was also commissioned by an editor at the
Partisan Review in New York to write a long essay on Waugh. So Orwell caught up on some of Waugh's early work. Specifically, he read Robbery Under Law, When the Going was Good, and Rossetti in February. And in March he read Work Suspended. In a notebook, he copied out a long quote from Robbery Under Law. Which begins:

'Let, me, then, warn the reader that I was a Conservative when I went to Mexico and that everything I saw there strengthened my opinions.'

The essay and notes are printed in full in volume 20 of
The Collected Works of George Orwell. A volume which is individually titled 'Our Job Is To Make Life Worth Living'. This is how the abandoned essay begins:

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Still from video Lazarus (2016). Directed by Johan Renck. Written by Renck and Bowie.

'Within the last few decades, in countries like Britain or the United States, the literary intelligentsia has grown large enough to constitute a world in itself. One important result of this is that the opinions which a writer feels frightened of expressing are not those which are disapproved of by society as a whole. To a great extent, what is still loosely thought of as heterodoxy has become orthodoxy. It is nonsense to pretend, for instance, that at this date there is something daring and original in proclaiming yourself an anarchist, an atheist, a pacifist, etc. The daring thing, or at any rate the unfashionable thing, is to believe in God or to approve of the capitalist system. In 1895, when Oscar Wilde was jailed, it must have needed very considerable moral courage to defend homosexuality. Today it would need no courage at all: today the equivalent action would be, perhaps, to defend antisemitism. But this example that I have chosen immediately reminds one of something else—namely, that one cannot judge the value of an opinion simply by the amount of courage that is required in holding it.'

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Paragraph two begins:

'In our own day, the English novelist who has most conspicuously defied his contemporaries is Evelyn Waugh. Waugh's outlook on life is, I should say, false and to some extent perverse, but at least it must be said for him that he adopted it at a time when it did not pay to do so, and his literary reputation has suffered accordingly.'

Orwell then makes the point that Waugh
'has been underrated because he is a "light" writer whose special gift is for something not far removed from low farce. But his main offence in the eyes of his fellow-writers has always been the reactionary political tendency which was already clearly apparent even in such light-hearted books as Decline and Fall and Vile Bodies.'

I have to stop George there, because this is a long way from 2 + 2 = 4. Firstly,
Vile Bodies is not a light-hearted book at its centre, thanks to Waugh's wife having left him when he was in the middle of writing it. Second, if a right-wing political allegiance had been prominent in these novels I would not have liked them, or its author. In fact, the novels mean a huge amount to me. Why? Because this reader can relate to the hapless protagonist, tested by the world, finding ways to survive those tests. As far as I'm concerned, Waugh's outlook is not primarily 'false' and 'perverse', but comic, nostalgic, vulnerable and inspirational. Harsh reality transformed into artful fiction. Again and again.

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Still from video Lazarus (2016). Directed by Johan Renck. Written by Renck and Bowie.

Paragraph three begins:
'Waugh is the latest, perhaps the last, of a long line of English writers whose real driving force is a romantic belief in aristocracy.' Orwell reckons that a casual glance at the first two novels reveals a sort of 'high-spirited foolery' and 'the kind of innocent snobbishness that causes people to wait twenty-four hours on the pavement to get a good view of a royal wedding.' But under the surface, Orwell reckons, the essential theme is serious. 'What Waugh is trying to do is to use the feverish, cultureless modern world as a set-off for his own conception of a good and stable way of life.' The paragraph continues: 'They are really sermons in farcical shape, and kept in farcical shape by avoidance of comment.'

Are they really sermons dealing with right and wrong? Or are they tales of innocence and experience, without a moral dimension? It's tricky for a critic if you can state the opposite of a thesis, and the antithesis seems just as true.

2 + 2 = 3,4,5,6,7?

Orwell's third paragraph continues with some comments about specific books:
In Decline and Fall , Vile Bodies, Scoop and, to a less extent, A Handful of Dust, the central character is a passive figure who simply lets things happen to him and hardly appears to notice the difference between good and evil, between pain and pleasure: in Black Mischief and The Loved One he is not passive, but his motives are not explained.

Paragraph four starts by mentioning
Brideshead and the idea of 'sanity and moral integrity is mixed up with the idea of country life - upper class country life - as it was lived a couple of generations ago.' But it's part of a single long sentence from Vile Bodies that he chooses to quote from in order to illustrate this respect for the upper classes:

...a great concourse of pious and honourable people (many of whom made the Anchorage House reception the one outing of the year), their women-folk well gowned in rich and durable stuffs, their men-folk ablaze with orders; people who had represented their country in foreign places and sent their sons to die for her in battle, people of decent and temperate life, uncultured, unaffected, unembarrassed, unassuming, unambitious people, of independent judgement and marked eccentricities, kind people who cared for animals and the deserving poor, brave and rather unreasonable people, that fine phalanx of the passing order, approaching, as one day at the Last Trump they hoped to meet their Maker, with decorous and frank cordiality to shake Lady Anchorage by the hand at the top of her staircase...

Which brings to mind this illustration from The Swoop by P.G. Wodehouse, drawing by Harrison. Never mind whether the female is Lady Anchorage or not, the male is so essentially Evelyn, or his protagonist, Adam Fenwick Symes!

orwell
Illustration by C. Harrison

This next image is also pretty good for an illustration of Lady Anchorage and Evelyn Arthur St John Waugh:

orwell_0001
Illustration by C. Harrison

Or do I mean Evelyn and Diana Mitford?

What do I like about these illustrations of Harrison? They put emphasis on the personality of the boy-scout protagonist. That little guy is going to go places. That little guy isn't scared of anybody. That gutsy little guy, call him Evelyn Waugh if you must, is never going to give up until he's got what he thinks he deserves.

But let's get back to what George Orwell was getting at when he began his long essay on Waugh. The fifth and final completed paragraph emphasises the importance of the country house in Waugh's writing. It starts by referencing Tony Last's house in
Handful of Dust and the magnificent Brideshead Castle, but suggests that whenever the action of a Waugh novel is set in England, a country house is invoked. 'But it is probably as it appears in Scoop and Vile Bodies that it corresponds most closely with Waugh's private ideal. Everyone knows, at least traditionally, the kind of house that is there described, - the middle-sized country house which required, in the days of its glory, about ten servants, and which has now, if it is not merely derelict, been turned into a hotel, a boarding school or a lunatic asylum.'

I may as well include all of this paragraph as it is the final one that Orwell managed to draft:

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Still from video Lazarus (2016). Directed by Johan Renck. Written by Renck and Bowie.

'All the familiar scenery is there, whether or not Waugh mentions it in detail: the "wet, bird-haunted lawns" and the walled garden with its crucified pear trees; the large untidy porch with its litter of raincoats, waders, landing-nets and croquet mallets; the plastery smell of the flagged passage, leading to the gunroom; the estate map on the library wall; the case of stuffed birds over the staircase. To Waugh, this is magic, or used to be magic, and it would be a waste of time to try to exorcise it from his mind merely by pointing out that...'

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Still from video Lazarus (2016). Directed by Johan Renck. Written by Renck and Bowie.

And there the essay breaks off.

The disjointed notes that Orwell left behind are mostly covered by what he'd already drafted. But the following suggests what he had still to write:

'Analyse Brideshead Revisited. (Note faults due to being written in
first person.) Studiously detached attitude. Not puritanical. Priests
not superhuman. Real theme—Sebastian's drunkenness, & family's
unwillingness to cure this at the expense of committing a sin. Note
that this is a real departure from the humanist attitude, with which
no compromise possible.'

Earlier in his notebook, Orwell had made note of a long quote from Brideshead, as follows. A conversation between Bridey and Charles about Sebastian's drinking:

He said: "I hope it's dipsomania. That is simply a great misfortune that we must all help him bear. What I used to fear was that he just got drunk deliberately when he liked and because he liked."

"That's exactly what he did - what we both did. It's what he does with me now. I can keep him to that, if only your mother would trust me. If you worry him with keepers and cures he'll be a physical wreck in a few years."

"There's nothing
wrong in being a physical wreck, you know. There's no moral obligation to be Postmaster-General or Master of Foxhounds or live to walk ten miles at eighty."

Wrong," I said. "Moral obligation - now...etc.

Orwell's quote of Brideshead stops there, but the next few words give important context. They are:

Wrong," I said. "Moral obligation - now you're back on religion again."

"I never left it," said Brideshead.

The church will tolerate dipsomania. What it won't put up with is an individual choosing to drink to excess for hedonistic reasons. Where does it say that in the bible? God knows, but I can believe it does.

Back to Orwell's notes:


'But. Last scene, where the unconscious man makes the sign of the
Cross. Note that after all the veneer is bound to crack sooner or
later. One cannot really be Catholic & grown-up.'

That's written as a single paragraph. So is it Lord Marchmain's veneer of humanism that's cracking at the end as he returns to the church? Or (and this is what I think Orwell means) is it Waugh's veneer of Catholicism that is bound to crack sooner or later because Catholicism is fundamentally childish.

'Conclude. Waugh is about as good a novelist as one can be (i.e. as
novelists go today) while holding untenable opinions.'

On the face of it, that's a positive ending. It's just a shame that so much of the essay spends time criticising Waugh's outlook and achievement rather than celebrating it. How can Waugh be as good a novelist as one can be, given that, according to Orwell, his politics is wrong, he's backward looking and essentially childish!

Orwell was too ill to finish the essay. He was told that he must do no work for a year or so, if he wanted to give himself a chance to recover even semi-invalid status. Jesus.

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Still from video Lazarus (2016). Directed by Johan Renck. Written by Renck and Bowie.

So what could he do to pass the days? He could see visitors.

And maybe sing to himself a bit:

"If I'll never see the English evergreens I'm running to
It's nothing to me
It's nothing to see."




FIVE: SUMMER, 1949

On June 2, 1949, Waugh wrote to Nancy Mitford telling her that Cyril Connolly was coming to stay at Piers Court for Whitsun.

This was significant, as Connolly, the editor of
Horizon, had in April 1946 published a major essay by Orwell, Politics and the English Language, and in February 1948 had devoted a whole issue to Waugh's The Loved One.

Not only that. Sonia Brownell, who would go on to marry a bed-ridden Orwell in October, was one of Connolly's editorial assistants. Connolly knew all about Sonia's love life. So there would have been much for Evelyn and Cyril to gossip about!

On Tuesday, June 7, Waugh wrote to Mary Lygon:
'Smarty Boots Connolly is staying with me and yesterday we drove to Wolverhampton to see a hideous statue and we were very near the noble line of the Malvern Hills and we had luncheon at Dumbleton Hall, very good young vegetables and a summer pudding and some cream cheese and Beaujolais and too old port.'

The map below shows where Wolverhampton and Dumbleton Hall are relative to Piers Court and Cranham sanatorium. They virtually had to drive past Cranham in order to get to their day's destinations!

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How come they didn't stop off and see poor George? Because Connolly had visited Orwell on Sunday, May 29, just a week before. At least that's what I infer from this note of Orwell's to Sonia Brownell on 24 May, about her own visit:
'Any day would suit me except the day you think Cyril might be coming, on the 29th, when I think someone else is coming.'

The day after writing to Mary Lygon, Waugh wrote to Nancy Mitford as follows:
'Smarty Boots has just left having spent the weekend in torpor...Whenever Cyril woke up it was to tell me of his enduring loyalty to, and dependence on, Lys.'

Lys was Connolly's partner. But I believe that Cyril, when awake, would also have urged Evelyn to think about visiting George Orwell. Connolly is bound to have talked about his own visit to the sanatorium.

It was in June that
Nineteen Eighty-Four was published. Waugh read it. And between the pair of them, Nineteen Eighty-Four and Smarty Boots must have persuaded Waugh to write again to Orwell. From library to sanatorium. From health to sickness. From one literary lion to another.

pierscourtlibrary
Evelyn Waugh back at his desk, in his study at Piers Court, after the Second World War. Courtesy of John Howard Wilson.

As I said above, the letter, dated 17 July, 1949, starts by asking if its recipient prefers to be known as Orwell or Blair. In other words, the pair had not yet met.

Then, straight in to
Nineteen Eighty-Four, Waugh saying what a stimulating experience it had been to read it. He states that he has noted all the respectful and appreciative reviews in England and America. He echoes their admiration for Orwell's ingenuity and for many parts of the writing, the example he gives being 'the delicious conversation in the pub when Winston tries to pump the old man for memories of pre-revolutionary days.'

How does that scene go again? Winston has risked wandering away from the centre of London to where the Proles live. He enters a pub and buys a drink for an 80-year-old man. As Waugh said, Winston pumps him for information, but all the old man can do is respond to certain words with one-dimensional reminiscences. Winston persists:

"And was it usual - I'm only quoting what I've read in history books - was it usual for those people and their servants to push you off the pavement into the gutter?"

"One of 'em pushed me once," said the old man. "I recollect it as if it were yesterday. It was Boat Race night - and I bumps into a young bloke on Shaftesbury Avenue
(say Evelyn Waugh, circa 1930!) Quite the gent, he was - dress shirt, top 'at, black overcoat. 'E was kind of zig-zagging across the pavement, and I bumps into 'im, accidental-like. 'E says, "Why can't you look where you're going?" 'e says. I says "Ju think you've bought the bloody pavement?" 'E says, "I'll twist your bloody 'ead off if you get fresh with me." I says, "You're drunk. I'll give you in charge in 'alf a minute," I says. An' if you'll believe me, 'e puts 'is 'and on my chest and gives me a shove as pretty near sent me under the wheels of a bus. Well, I was young in them days, and I was going to 'ave fetched 'im one, only..."

A sense of helplessness took hold of Winston. The old man's memory was nothing but a rubbish-heap of details. One could question him all day without getting any real information.


Waugh's letter goes on:
'But the book failed to make my flesh creep as presumably you intended.' Four long paragraphs follow, which need to be analysed in detail...

'For one thing I think your metaphysics are wrong. You deny the soul's existence (at least Winston does) and can only contrast matter with reason and will. It is now apparent that matter can control reason and will in certain conditions.'

So the soul could have stood up to O'Brien's torture?

'Winston's rebellion was false. His 'Brotherhood' was simply another gang like the Party. And it was false to me that the form of his revolt should simply be fucking in the style of Lady Chatterly - finding reality through a sort of mystical union with the Proles in the sexual act.'

Julia was not a Prole. Like Winston, she was a member of the Party, though not of the Inner Party.

'I think it possible that in 1984 we shall be living in conditions rather like those you show. But what makes your version spurious to me is the disappearance of the Church...The Brotherhood which can confound the Party is one of love - not adultery in Berkshire. And men who love a crucified God need never think of torture as all-powerful.'

Is Waugh saying that a religious Winston could have withstood the starvation and electric shocks that Winston received? Those electric shocks that eventually saw Winston accept - truly believe - that 2 + 2 = 5 Could those same shocks not have got Winston to accept that a crucified Jesus did not rise to Heaven and, in fact, an individual called Jesus Christ had never even existed?

Well, Waugh had written
Edmund Campion, the story of a Sixteenth Century martyr. He might indeed claim that there was historic evidence for the resistance to torture unto death, where there was the promise of everlasting life to follow. However, it has to be said that O'Brien was something of an expert on getting what he wanted from his victims. And, if Winston had been religious, then the climactic scene, with the rats about to be let loose upon his unprotected face, might have read:

'Do it to Jesus! Do it to Jesus! Not me! Jesus! I don't care what you do to him. Tear his face off, strip him to the bones. Not me! Jesus! Not me!'

Waugh's letter concludes by saying: '
You see how much your book excited me, that I risk preaching a sermon.'

Then comes the crucial bit.

'I do not want to annoy you - for one reason I have promised neighbours of mine Jack and Frankie Donaldson (Etonian socialist farmer and Freddie Lonsdale's daughter) that I will take them to visit you. They are earnest students of your work and a charming couple and I don't want to deprive them of their treat by my sectarian zeal. Would we be welcome one afternoon?'

As I say, this last bit is the crucial part of the letter, not the argument that comes before it, pertinent though that may be on another level. Evelyn Waugh is setting up a most generous and thoughtful gift for George Orwell. Because what Waugh doesn't say, is that the book of PG Wodehouse that he mentioned in his 1948 letter (which Waugh no doubt realises Orwell won't have been able to follow up on, having been leading an isolated life on Jura when not flat on his back in hospital) had been a specially bound copy of The Swoop given to him by Jack Donaldson. Moreover, his wife, Frankie Donaldson, had known 'Plummy' (PG Wodehouse) since she'd been a child, as she'd been the best friend of Wodehouse's step-daughter.

So one day between the writing of Waugh's letter on 17 July 1945 and Orwell's transfer to London on 3 September 1949, the latter was visited by a party consisting of Evelyn Waugh, Frances Donaldson and Jack Donaldson. Agenda? - cheer up the sick man with talk of the one and only begetter of Bertie Wooster, Jeeves, Lord Emsworth
et al.

There is a book by Frances Donaldson, whose cover is as below:

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Jacket design by James Butler

It's in this book that she mentions the Wodehouse novel, The Swoop, suggesting that it was given by her husband to Evelyn Waugh as a Christmas present. Elsewhere in Portrait of a Country Neighbour she confirms that Evelyn took herself and her husband to visit George Orwell in a hospital on the hills. Unfortunately, she says nothing about the meeting itself.

The funny thing is, this book is listed in the bibliography at the back of
The Same Man. Also at the back of that book, David Lebedoff says this in acknowledgements:

'The Waugh family could not have been more gracious and sharing. Alexander Waugh, Evelyn's grandson and himself a fine writer. presides over a charming home in Somerset that contains two glowing treasures: his own lovely family, and the mother lode of Waviana, an astonsihing collection of letters, diaries, photographs, notes, clippings, articles, books, and other memoribilia of Evelyn Waugh and the rest of his literary clan.'

I know. Thanks to Alexander, I had the pleasure of browsing the Archive for an hour in 2011. I just wish it was closer to my own base. But back to David Lebedoff:

'I have no happier memory than that of my wife's peals of laughter as she read from the original copies of Evelyn Waugh's unsurpassable correspondence.'

Alas, Lebedoff's wife must have laughed when her husband was reading the second letter from Evelyn Waugh to Orwell, and again when he was reading the end of the third letter. For, if Lebedoff had taken them on board, he would surely have delved a little deeper into the Donaldson connection. The P.G. Wodehouse glue that bonded Evelyn Waugh and George Orwell.

Evelyn orwell - Untitled Page

In his letter, Waugh envisages coming to the sanatorium with the Donaldsons one afternoon. In a diary entry made in March, Orwell notes that his routine was for lunch to be served at 12.40 and for him to rest between 2.30 and 3.30, when a cup of tea was brought round. There was then no disturbance until his temperature and pulse was taken at 6pm. So, surely an appointment was made for 3.30pm. Tea and scones for four!

Would Evelyn have taken along his specially bound copy of
The Swoop to show the patient? Possibly, as it had been signed by Wodehouse for Jack Donaldson originally. However, my own copy of The Swoop has now arrived and it makes for dreadfully dull reading. Why? Because there is no characterisation. The book consists entirely of an absurd plot. So it doesn't surprise me that when Waugh wrote an essay in praise of Wodehouse years later, he states:

'Collectors prize as bibliographical rarities such early works as William Tell Told Again and The Swoop, but it is impossible to discern in them any promise of what was to come.'

I can't think there would have been any point in reading to Orwell from the book. It is simply not up to the master's scratch. Instead, I can well imagine Evelyn introducing Frances and Jack as having known in person the inimitable P.G. Wodehouse.

Frances Donaldson knew PG Wodehouse from 1921, when she became best friends with his step-daughter, with whom she went to school. Frances would go on to write a biography of Wodehouse in 1983 and I can well imagine her - in summer 1949 - telling the following anecdote which relates to 1922, when Wodehouse was about forty-years-old and solidly famous.

'Soon after he came himself to the school at Bromley to see Leonora where I by now had joined her. I was standing at the window of one of the upper class rooms which looked out on the drive when a memorable apparition appeared.

"Snorky," I said, "Come and look at this extraordinary old man."

A bulky red-faced man was bicycling down the drive, his (freckled) head adorned by a white handkerchief, tied in a knot at each corner, to shield it from the sun.

"That's Plummie," Snorkie said, and, as she spoke, he got off his bicycle and wheeled it into the shrubbery on the side of the drive.

"What on earth is he doing?" I asked.

"He's frightened of Miss Starbuck, so he waits there and I go out and join him."

Miss Starbuck was the headmistress. She was tall, thin-faced and shy; she added to the severity of her appearance by wearing a boned collar, and I expect she was socially incompetent. But she was reasonably kind and no less aware than any other head would have been of the desirability of having P.G Wodehouse's daughter at her school. I never knew anyone but Plummie who was seriously afraid of her.

Ah, schooldays! Evelyn went to Lancing, Orwell to Eton, and Wodehouse to Dulwich College. Public schoolboys all. Wodehouse loved his time there, Evelyn had mixed feelings about his, and Orwell hated his pre-Eton prep school. So perhaps they wouldn't have talked about school. But by this stage in the meeting, Orwell would have perked up a bit, surely.

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Still from video Lazarus (2016). Directed by Johan Renck. Written by Renck and Bowie.

Jack Donaldson played golf with PG Wodehouse, in Addington, on Mondays, between 1932 and 1935. The anecdote concerning Jack and P.G. Wodehouse included in Frances's biography is from a few years later. Here it is:

'The time was the early spring of 1939 and Neville Chamberlain had just made some optimistic public statement about the future. Jack cast doubt on this and Peter Cazelet (Leonora's husband) turned on him furiously:

"You are becoming a bore, he said. "You prefer to take a gloomy view."

By now there was plenty of evidence of the German treatment of the Jews and of what happened to people in the concentration camps.

I cannot remember the full details of this, but Jack must have said, in effect, that the Germans were determined to conquer Europe, and Peter must have argued this, when Plum made his memorable intervention.

"What I can't see," he said, "is what difference it makes. If the Germans want to govern the world, why don't we just let them?"


What a vivid anecdote! Plenty to discuss in the sanatorium, surely. What kind of man is afraid of a socially incompetent headmistress but not afraid of Nazi Germany?

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Still from video Lazarus (2016). Directed by Johan Renck. Written by Renck and Bowie.

Now, Orwell had met P.G. Wodehouse himself. In 1945 Orwell enjoyed a meal with P.G. and his wife in Paris. He later told a correspondent that
'poor old Wodehouse was most pathetically pleased about the article in The Windmill.'

In her biography, Frances makes it clear how unusual Wodehouse was. He lived for work. He wrote every single day, and organised his life to ensure that he could do so effectively. Including marrying a woman fifteen years older than himself who could help keep the world at bay. Much for Waugh and Orwell to relate to there. Orwell had moved to Jura so that he could concentrate on his novel. Waugh had bought Piers Court where he kept pretty much to himself in his library. Yes, much to discuss.

I feel at some point Waugh would have raised the fact that his own meeting with P.G. Wodehouse had been in February of that year, 1949. He'd been in the States giving a lecture on three authors who had converted to Catholicism: GK Chesterton, Ronald Knox and Graham Greene. Frances Donaldson says this about it in her
Portrait of a Country Neighbour:

'A public function was given for him by the editress of Vogue, who asked him whether there was any particular person he would have liked to have invited. He immediately named P.G. Wodehouse. His hostess replied that if he wished Mr Wodehouse to be asked he must invite him himself, and Evelyn went to some pains to do this. When he returned he told us that Plummy had come to the luncheon and been given the place of honour next to him.
"Well..." we asked.
Evelyn gave his expostulatory chuckle.
"It was not very amusing," he said, "I could not persuade him to talk on any subject except income tax."

I suspect Evelyn was not being fair to his own experience when saying that to Frances Donaldson. Waugh loved to talk about income tax, especially post-Brideshead when his earnings were taxed at a very high percentage. So he was always coming up with schemes for being paid in kind. Hence being given dozens of bottles of champagne for writing an essay for a wine merchant. Hence getting third parties to pay for his trips to America and for copious amounts of eating and drinking when he got there. And I have little doubt he would have enjoyed listening to Wodehouse's outrage at having his earnings taxed in the States and in England. And his American earnings taxed for a second time in England!

Not sure how this could be made interesting for George Orwell, the socialist. Besides, Orwell had only started to make money from the publication of
Animal Farm. Though it was between then and the publication of Nineteen Eighty-Four that George Orwell Limited was set up, and what would that have been but a way of avoiding income tax?

"Evelyn?"

"Yes, George."

"Do you have a favourite P.G. Wodehouse story?"

"Many."

"Novels or short stories."

"Both."

"Tell me one."

"Do you know the short story 'Jeeves and the Song of Songs'?"

"Dear me, yes! How does it go again?"

"It starts with Bertie Wooster singing 'Sonny Boy' in a bath run for him by Jeeves. Jeeves does not enjoy having to listen to the bathetic (forgive the pun) monstrosity."

"And then Tuppy comes to visit."

"Tuppy is engaged to be married to Cora, a well-known opera singer. To impress Cora, Tuppy has arranged to sing 'Sonny Boy' at a concert hall run by his friend. The idea being to impress his wife-to-be who will be topping the bill. Now let me think..."

"Bertie is against this marriage for various reasons. So Jeeves is asked to come up with a plan to sabotage the marriage."

"Jeeves suggests that Bertie sings 'Sonny Boy' prior to Tuppy coming on. He suggests that the singing of the sentimental tearjerker
twice will not go down well with the rough and ready audience that attends these musical evenings."

"Bertie is not that keen, but eventually accepts that him singing 'Sonny Boy' will indeed make the reception of Tuppy's rendering decidedly negative."

"On the night, Jeeves sends Tuppy to a bar so that he won't know that Bertie has sung 'Sonny Boy' before him. But he also sends Bertie to another bar so that
he doesn't know that by the time he goes on stage to sing 'Sonny Boy', two acts have already done so and the audience are beginning to mutiny."

In the cabin, four adults are sharing the timeless joke.

Evelyn is first to compose himself, he says: "Bertie gets a terrible reception. Tuppy an even worse one. Food is thrown."

Evelyn, George, Frances and Jack are all shaking with laughter.

Evelyn again: "However, although Jeeves plan has worked a treat, Cora's car has broken done and she's not been there to witness Tuppy's humiliation. Her engagement to Tuppy is still on. Bertie goes home disappointed."

George is still laughing.

Evelyn carries on with the story: "But Jeeves stays on to see the concert out, and when he finally gets home it is to report that Cora's attempt to entertain the audience by singing 'Sonny Boy' to a doll held in her arms did not go down at all well. Cora, having earlier been told by Jeeves that Tuppy particularly wanted her to sing this particular song, gave her prospective husband a punch in the eye, thus ending their engagement."

Jack: "If I remember rightly, it's one of those stories that ends with Bertie speechless with admiration for Jeeves' skills."

Frances: "Even though those same skills have resulted - in passing - in Jeeves putting one - or even two - over on Bertie."

Jack: "Hilarious."

Frances: "Wonderful."

Evelyn: "Mr Wodehouse's idyllic world can never stale. He will continue to release future generations from captivity that may be more irksome than our own. He has made a world for us to live in and delight in."

And so the afternoon would have passed. With P.G. Wodehouse at the centre of it. His innocent genius helping the convalescence of the author of
Nineteen Eighty Four, the darkest book in the world.

Here is how I visualise the end of that meeting.

Evelyn and the Donaldsons stand up from their chairs, say goodbye to George, shake his hand, and walk towards the door of the cabin. But before getting there, Evelyn turns round and says earnestly:


"What I can't see is what difference it makes. If the Germans want to govern the world, why don't we just let them?"

George smiles or nods his understanding. He'd done his bit, as had Evelyn, in the knowledge of what they'd been fighting for. Freedom fighters both.

doubleplusfree

Evelyn has his hand on the door handle, but turns round once more in order to say:

"
What I can't see is what difference it makes. If Jeeves wants to govern the world, why don't we just let him?"

A proper smile this time from George. And when George smiles it looks as if the whole world is smiling. He had that kind of a face.





SIX: MEETING (2)

It seems that there may well have been another meeting between Evelyn Waugh and George Orwell in the summer of 1949.

On page 408 of D.J. Taylor's book
Orwell: The Life, when mentioning Orwell's essay about Waugh, he states: 'There were at least two face-to-face meetings with the essay's subject.'

So I emailed Taylor about this and David soon let me know that the source for this is Bernard Crick, who refers to Malcolm Muggeridge's essay in
The World of George Orwell (1971), edited by Miriam Gross.

Crick is quoted in the final volume of
The Collected Works of George Orwell, as follows: '[Anthony] Powell and [Malcolm] Muggeridge, who did their share of visiting, persuaded Evelyn Waugh, who neither knew Orwell nor particularly cared for his writing, to visit him; simply because he lived nearby. As one worthy in the world of English letters to another, he did this kindness several times.'

Crick slides from fact to speculative opinion in that short quote. It is not true that Waugh visited Orwell simply because he lived nearby. He visited him partly because of a shared love of PG Wodehouse. I've established that if nothing else!

Muggeridge himself, in the essay published in 1971, adds his own perspective. First, he says that he visited Orwell with Anthony Powell and that they walked the final bit of the way. That visit was on February 19, 1949. There is a letter from Orwell to Powell setting up the visit, noting the walking business (the sanatorium was five miles from Stroud Station), and looking forward to seeing both of them.

About the visit, Muggeridge says only that Orwell looked terribly wasted and thin but that he was in good spirits having managed to finish
Nineteen Eighty-Four. Orwell said little about the book, ‘He was as secretive about his work as about everything else.’ Powell and Muggeridge had laughed about an incident in a book by Arthur Koestler, concerning the identification of a Jew through his being circumcised. Orwell had not found the story amusing, partly because he deemed circumcision to be a class thing, and had hidden his own non-circumcised condition when a pupil at Eton.

Muggeridge's piece continues:
‘On the way back I suggested to Powell that he should tell Evelyn Waugh, who then lived in the neighbourhood of the sanatorium, that Orwell was there, so that he might visit him. Whether at Powell’s suggestion or someone else’s, I learnt afterwards that Waugh did go and see Orwell several times, and afterwards corresponded with him in a very delightful way.’

Now D.J. Taylor was not able to corroborate these other meetings, which is why he settled for '
at least two face-to-face-meetings' in his biography. And as far as I’m aware there was no correspondence from Waugh to Orwell after the Donaldson meeting.

What does Anthony Powell’s autobiography add? Nothing to the subject of Waugh and Orwell in 1949. So did Waugh and Orwell meet a second time? They probably did, given how Muggeridge puts it. Especially in the light of what I’m about to reveal.

There is an important scene in
Men At Arms, which Waugh wrote in the second half of 1951. It's almost at the end of the novel, when Waugh's protagonist, Guy Crouchback, visits his comrade-in-arms, Apthorpe, who is ill in a military hospital. The scene revolves around the fact that Crouchback takes in with him a bottle of whisky. Here is what happens.

'
He found Aprthorpe alone in his room, in a bed near the window. When Guy entered he was lying doing nothing, staring at the sun-blind with his hands empty on the counterpane. He immediately began to fill and light a pipe.'

"I came to see how you were."

"Rotten, old man, rotten."

"They don't seem to have given you much to do."

"They don't realise how ill I am. They keep bringing me jig-saws and Ian Hay."

Guy produces the bottle he had been concealing in the pocket of his bush-shirt.

"I wondered if you'd like some whisky."

"That's very thoughtful. In fact I would. Very much. They bring us one medicine-glassful at sundown. It's not enough. Often one wants more. I told them so, pretty strongly, and they just laughed."

"Where shall I put the whisky?"

"Somewhere I can reach it. It'll get damned hot in the bed, but I think it's the best place... Tuck it in at the bottom, there's a good chap."

There was only a thin sheet and a thin cotton counterpane. Guy saw Apthorpe's large feet, bereft of their 'porpoises', peeling with fever... He puffed at his pipe, let it go out, tried with a feeble hand to put it on the table beside him, dropped it, noisily in that quiet place, on the bare floor. Guy stooped to retrieve it, but Apthorpe said: "Leave it there, old man, I don't want it. I only tried to be companionable."

When Guy looked up he saw tears on Apthorpe's colourless cheeks.

"I say, would you like me to go?"

"No, no. I'll feel better in a minute. Did you bring a corkscrew? Good man. I think I could do with a nip."


And so they have a nip together. Apthorpe confesses that he only has one aunt, not two. A lie from early on in their acquaintance that had always bothered Apthorpe's conscience.

OK, now let's see how
Men At Arms ties in with Waugh visiting Orwell on his own.

David Lebedoff says this about Orwell at Cranham.
'His typewriter had been taken away, a modern variant on bleeding the patient to death in a misguided effort to help him. He did manage to hide a bottle of rum under the bed and continued to chain-smoke whenever he could get away with it.'

Orwell's letters in 1949 show him asking Sir Richard Rees to send him two bottles of rum at the beginning of February. At the beginning of March he acknowledges receipt of the bottles. On 13 May, he writes to a friend:
'Thank you ever so much for that lovely bottle of brandy, which arrived here two days ago'. And on 27 June he writes to another friend: 'Thank you ever so much for that lovely bottle of brandy which arrived here on Saturday, appropriately for my birthday (46!).'

Given Waugh's own large daily consumption of spirits, surely empathy with a bed-ridden colleague would have prompted him to bring along a bottle of something 'lovely', whether rum, brandy or whisky.

OK, back to
Men at Arms. Guy and Apthorpe have a second nip together and Apthrope brings up the subject of his will. (Orwell too was thinking about his will a great deal. He wrote to Richard Rees about it several times in the spring of 1949, mentioning his sister who was looking after Orwell's affairs at Barnhill, the house on Jura.) Anyway:

"You needn't start thinking about that for years yet."

"I think about it now. A great deal. I haven't much. Just a few thousand in 'gilt-edged' my father left me. I've left it all back to my aunt of course. It's family money after all, and ought to go back. The one at Tunbridge Wells not' - roguishly ' the good lady at Peterborogh. But there's someone else."

Guy thought: could this inscrutable man have a secret, irregular ménage? Little dusky Apthorpes, perhaps.

(Orwell had a step-son, Richard, a boy of five, who was being raised on Jura but who was brought down to Gloucestershire so that he could visit his father once a week throughout a month or so of the summer.)

"Look here Apthorpe, please don't go telling me anything about your private affairs. You'll be awfully embarrassed about it later, if you do. You're going to be perfectly fit again in a week or two."

Apthorpe considered this.

"I'm tough," he admitted. "I'll take some killing. But it's all a question of the will to live. I must set everything down in order just in case they wear me down. That's what keeps worrying me so."

"All right, what is it?"

"It's my gear," said Apthorpe. "I don't want my aunt to get hold of it. Some of it's at the Commodore's at Southend. The rest is at that place in Cornwall where we last camped. If my aunt got hold of it, I know exactly what she'd do. She'd hand the whole thing over to some High Church boy scouts she's interested in. I don't want High Church boy scouts playing the devil with my gear."

"No. It would be most unsuitable."

"Exactly. You remember Chatty Corner?"

"Vividly."

"I want him to have it all... Now I want you to collect it and hand it over to Chatty on the quiet... You'll do that for me, won't you, old man?"

"Very well. I'll try."

"Then I can die happy - at least if anyone ever does die happy. Do you think they do?"

"We used to pray for it a lot at school. But for goodness sake don't start thinking of dying
now."

"I'm a great deal nearer death now, " said Apthorpe, suddenly huffy, "than you ever were at school."

In the spring of 1949, the gear that Orwell was much concerned with was his books. He had asked his sister to look after them, but in letters to Richard Rees he expressed his concern. 'I wish sometime you'd have a look at my books and see they're not getting too mildewy (I asked Avril to light a fire from time to time for that reason) and that the magazines in the bottom shelf are in some sort of order. I want to keep all the magazines that are there, as some of them have articles of mine that I might want to reprint. The books are piling up here and I'm going to start sending them home some time, but I can't do up parcels at present.'

Can you see the parallel? Orwell was worried that his sister was playing the devil with his books. He might even have been hoping that Evelyn would help tie up a few parcels and send them off to Jura. Though I doubt if anything so practical was Evelyn's
forte.

Apthorpe equals Orwell? Well, of course not, not principally. However, this particular scene is handled with such delicacy of feeling (and humour) that one feels it is at least partly based on something that really happened. The sense of wary comradeship is palpable.

In
Men At Arms, Guy leaves Apthorpe with the bottle of whisky. On the way out, a doctor tells him: "Chaps who live here have got their blood full of every sort of infection. And then, of course, they poison themselves with whisky. They snuff out like babies."

The next day, Guy learns that Apthorpe has died, an empty bottle of whisky having been found in his bed. Now it has to be said that from the perspective of late 1951, when Waugh was completing
Men At Arms, the recollection of hearing about Orwell's death (in January 1950) would have seemed to come pretty hard after any August 1949 visit, and gift of alcohol.

There's another meeting I want to moot. But first I need to put a cork in this bottle (vintage 30 July, 2018) and get out another empty.




SEVEN
: ROOM 101

"Evelyn."

"George."

"You've walked all the way from Stroud?"

"If Muggeridge can do it, so can I."

"But I thought you were coming together. Where is he?"

"Dead in a ditch. You know how it is. His ability to bore, plus my low boredom threshold. A bad combination at the best of times."

"That's three you've done away with: Connolly, Quennell and now Muggeridge."

"Call it my contribution to post-War English letters. How are you feeling?"

"Rotten, old man. Rotten."

"I'm going to cheer you up by talking about Room 101."

"If anyone can pull that off, you can."

"I have children. And I also have an understanding with God. I can assure you that if O'Brien was my captor, threatening me with rats, I would not be dancing to his tune."

"But the rats!"

"I know. They would be released. They would throw themselves onto the flesh of my face. Well, let them do their worst."

"They would eat your lips and eyes. The pain would be excruciating. The horror..."

"I know, I know. But the thing I would be holding onto would be the image of my children. I would be keeping the rats away from them at all costs. It would be a struggle. And the struggle would end when a rat burrowed its way through my eye socket and into my brain. Good nourishment there, and plenty of it. And by the time the rat had eaten its fill, I would be safe in God's hands."

"Jesus, Evelyn. I haven't even asked if you want tea yet."

"I have brought along a first class claret. Would you care to join me?"

"There are two glasses on the table."

"Tumblers! Still, if I can stand the rats, I can put up with these."

In dealing with the drinks, Waugh comes across a framed photograph standing on the bedside cabinet. This photograph:

Screen shot 2018-07-28 at 09.33.30
George Orwell with Richard, 1946. Estate of Vernon Richards

"Is that your boy?"

"Yes. But it's an old photograph. He is five now."

"Same age as Harriet. I do not rate my daughter's intellect. Nor her ability to make me laugh. But I would give my life to save hers. Simple as that. Anything more to say about the rats?"

"In a sense you are right. I would keep Richard safe. To my last breath."

"Let the rats nibble the fleshy folds of those cheeks of yours?"

"Not so fleshy these days."

"Putting up with infinite pain?"

"Giving myself no choice in the matter."

They sip from their drinks. All is quiet in the chalet for a few seconds.

"Connolly told me about Sonia."

"What about her?"

"She's Julia, isn't she? The girl from
Horizon is the girl from the Fiction Department. According to Connolly you had a fling with her back in 1945. She wouldn't marry you then, but according to Connolly you're about to marry her in a month or two."

"Strange, I know. There is little chance of me being able to get out of bed for the ceremony never mind me taking her to bed for a bit of how's your father. However, I think it will give me more chance of beating this illness, if I'm married. And of giving Richard a better start in life."

"Sonia's read
Nineteen Eighty-Four, hasn't she?"

"Of course."

"So Julia and Winston don't betray each other. She's going to marry you, for Christ's sake. A happy ending! And everyone says what a bleak book
Nineteen Eighty-Four is."

"I suppose you could look at it that way."

"
Under the spreading chestnut tree,
I sold you and you sold me?
- Not a bit of it!"

Evelyn pours himself and George another glass. Silence in the chalet. And outside those four walls? - well, the earth might be uninhabited.

"Connolly - or was it Powell - told me you lived in Canonbury Square until your move to Jura."

"My first wife and I lived there for a short time. And I kept it on for a year or two after her death. Only got rid of the place quite recently. What of it?"

"I once lived in Canonbury Square. From the summer of 1928 to the summer of 1929. With my first wife, whose name was also Evelyn. Number 17a. Or, rather, Room 101 as I've thought of it since reading your book."

"Explain."

"I had committed to the marriage. My wife committed adultery."

"Not quite the same thing."

"I was devastated. I just could not get my head round it... The giant rat - name of John Heygate, was a friend of ours. A good friend. Or so I thought. Shevelyn and I tried for a reconciliation. It lasted two weeks. Then she went back to him again..."

"I'm sorry."

"We tried to set up a meeting to clear the air... A foursome, with Eleanor Watts who had also slept with Heygate, and been dumped by him. Both of us dumped into hell itself by a BBC nonentity called John Heygate... My wife and Heygate didn't turn up for the meeting. So, in deep distress, Eleanor and I fled together to her parents' house up north. I suggested a suicide pact."

"Funny sort of suicide that requires another human being to be ending their life at the same time."

"Quite right. Bogus. I got over it. But when I returned to 17a Canonbury Square. And stood in the front room where I thought Evelyn and I had been happy. It happened again. That sense of utter futility. Something died in me. When I'd been up north with Eleanor I'd painted a cover for the book I was in the middle of.
Vile Bodies. Basically, two implied heads and the letters B. O. G. U. S. superimposed upon them. I stood it on the mantelpiece and looked at it and knew my life had fallen apart. I wanted to die, but couldn't, in fact, kill myself. Instead, over the next couple of months, I joined the Roman Catholic Church and took off for Africa. Never went back to Canonbury Square."

Living_Room
Living room at 17a Canonbury Square. ©Alexander Waugh, Waugh Family Archive, Milverton.

"Somebody will have played the devil with your gear."

"Where were you in 1929?"

"Living in Paris."

"And how had you got there? Tell me a little about yourself. I don't recall you at Oxford."

"Couldn't afford it, not without a scholarship. And I didn't do very well at Eton. So I decided to go out east and work for the police in Burma, where my family had connections. Did that for five and a half years, would you believe? Got ill and came back to England. Wanted to be a writer by then. Decided to rough it for a bit, so that I'd have something to write about. Ended up in Paris after a year or so."

"You got a book out of your time in Burma?"

"
Burmese Days. Not published until 1934."

"And out of roughing it?"

"
Down and Out in Paris and London."

"It's important to get books out of your experiences."

"It's all we have. Our experiences. Thank God most of my early ones were brought to an end by illness."

"Twenty years later. We've both written a lot of books."

"Do you know, I feel I was just getting going when this TB struck. The doctor has told me I must not work at all for a year, maybe longer."

"Doesn't matter, in a way. It's those last two books that we're going to be remembered for."

"The Julia books."

"In that letter I wrote to you a few weeks ago, when I said your book hadn't made my fresh creep, I wasn't being completely honest."

"No?"

"Let me try and explain... As you imply, the name Julia that you'd used in
NIneteen Eighty-Four linked back to the Julia that I wrote about in Brideshead. A neat tribute and I'm immensely flattered. My Julia gave up Charles because of God. Your Julia gave up Winston because of Big Brother. So that made the book very personal to me. And just as your Julia was based on Sonia Brownell, my Julia was based on a woman in my life. Two women, actually. A bit of Laura, my second wife, and a lot of a woman I knew called Teresa, who wouldn't consider marrying me in 1934, because I had been married once and couldn't be divorced in the eyes of the church. So the link from your book to my life was a live one. And when it came to the torture scene and the 'Let it be Julia. Not me, Julia!' lines that Winston spoke. It was my first wife's face I was seeing, though that was not quite logical."

"Not logical but personal."

"Let it be
her that be torn to shreds by the rats. It made me realise that I still hate her. That I will always hate her. Because, at a fundamental level, she killed me. So you see, Nineteen Eighty-Four becomes my defeat and not yours."

"I'm sorry to have been the conduit of such pain, Evelyn. Another glass?"

"I'm going to turn the tables a bit now, if that's all right."

"I've got nothing left to lose."

"In February, 1945, I got a letter from Nancy Mitford. In it she repeated a bit of gossip she'd heard about 'Brownell' - your Sonia. About her having been raped by John Heygate."

"What?"

"Raped by John Heygate, and how awful it had been, not least because he has syphillis and gonorrhea. But the worst of it, according to Sonia, was that Heygate
'doesn't seem to realise what Cyril stands for'."

"That's awful."

"About Cyril not being understood?"

"About Sonia being bloody well raped by Heygate. Especially after what you've said about your wife. And Eleanor Watts. What does that bloody man think he's up to?"

"Funny thing is. I heard the same story from another female correspondent, via Stephen Spender, and felt it might be apocryphal. In Spender's version of the story, Sonia was enjoying a weekend in the country with Connolly's friend Dick Wyndham, a lustful oaf who pursued her round his garden until she dashed into the pond.
"It isn't his trying to rape me that I mind," Sonia gasped, when Peter Quennell fished her out, "but that he doesn't seem to realise what Cyril stands for."

"What the hell
does Cyril stand for?"

"Don't ask me. Though he was the first to publish
The Loved One. And he did give space to that essay of yours about the state of the English language."

"True."

"Anyway, Cyril is not the point here. The point is it may not have been Heygate who raped Sonia or chased her into a pond. But it might have been. Which do you prefer?"

"It doesn't matter. If I can live with this TB, I can live with the idea that another man found my wife-to-be attractive, whether it was Heygate or anyone else. Though I must try and console Sonia about it. Goodness, I'm getting tired."

"We are the dead."

"We are the dead."

"I feel that Big Brother's voice should come from the chalet wall saying, 'You are the dead'. Meaning you and me, George."

"Meaning you, me, Quennell, Muggeridge, Powell and Connolly."

"Meaning you, me, Quenell, Muggeridge, Powell, Connolly, Heygate, Gardner, Brownell and Jungman,

"Shall we leave it at that?"

"No choice in the matter. The bottle's finished."

When he gets to the door, Waugh stops in order to listen to Orwell's last words of the afternoon.

"
What I can't see is what difference it makes. If Heygate wants to fuck the world, why don't we just let him?"

Tired words. Tired, tired words.




EIGHT: OUTRO

I have just heard from Colin Roy, who I've been updating throughout the three weeks of research and writing of this piece. (Ten books bought and read. Three sessions of writing per day for the last eight days.)

In his latest email, Colin admits to never having read
The Same Man. Which is ironic. Because it means that when he said that he'd always been massively intrigued by the visit that Waugh paid to Orwell at Cranham sanatorium, and would have loved to know what the pair talked about, he didn't really mean it. Otherwise he would have done the obvious thing, which is to have bought and read The Same Man in the expectation of getting an answer.

So here I lie in Cranham sanatorium, exactly 69 years after Orwell did. I haven't checked my room number but can only suppose it is the same as his was. 101. I have been examined by the doctor who has diagnosed a typical case of TB (Totally Bonkers). Accordingly, my computer has been taken away and I have been advised to do no work whatsoever on any of my websites. For at least a year.

In other words, I'm a goner. The most I can hope for is a visit from Evelyn. Maybe he'll have the common decency to bring a bottle with him. Not whisky, that would finish me off. But a nice bottle of red would perk me up, no end.

"Eight green bottles, standing on the wall.
Eight green bottles, standing on the wall.
And if one green bottle... should accidentally fall.
There'd be seven green bottles, standing on the wall."


"Come on, Evelyn... Where the fuck are you?... The nectar is flowing..."

"Seven green bottles, standing on the wall.
Seven green bottles, standing on the wall.
And if one green bottle... should accidentally fall.
There'd be six green bottles, standing on the wall."

"Come on, Ev... We've so much to talk about... No need to bring a corkscrew...."

"Six green bottles, standing on the wall.
Six green bottles, standing on the wall.
And if one green bottle... should accidentally fall.
There'd be five green bottles, standing on the wall."


"Come o-o-o-o-o-nnnnnn!!!!!.........."









Notes:

1) I've used the stills from David Bowie's 'Lazarus' with the forbearance, I hope, of the copyright holders. The superb video can be seen
here. Just as Nineteen Eighty-Four was the main inspiration for Diamond Dogs, so Vile Bodies was behind the preceding album, Aladdin Sane. Analysis of the latter can be found here.

2) Thanks to Colin Roy for drawing this subject to my attention and for keeping up one end of a stimulating correspondence, and to D.J. Taylor for answering my query as efficiently as ever. Also to Jeff Manley for pointing out a gratuitously insulting reference to Anthony Powell (since removed).

3) The near-rape of Sonia Brownell is mentioned on page 52 of
The Girl from the Fiction Department by Hilary Spurling, a book in which John Heygate's name does not feature. Heygate does appear in connection with a rape allegation on page 38 of The Letters of Nancy Mitford.

4) I have no evidence that 'Jeeves and the Song of Songs' was a favourite P.G. Wodehouse story of Evelyn Waugh's. It is of mine.

5) I wonder what happened to the letters of George Orwell that were sent to Waugh.

6) If anyone wishes to see the full essay by John Howard Wilson:
Brideshead Revisited in NIneteen Eighty-Four: Evelyn Waugh's Influence on George Orwell, do let me know.

7) It's been pointed out to me that Waugh's story
Love Among the Ruins, published in 1953 but first written in 1950, has been influenced by his reading of Nineteen Eighty-Four. So I'm going to go over this essay with that in mind.