YOOHOO! WHO TOLD ME TO READ THE DIRK BOGARDE AUTOBIOGRAPHIES?

Annex - Bogarde, Dirk (Doctor at Sea)_01-1Whoever you are I love you. This is a picture of Dirk Bogarde and Brigitte Bardot with (as my husband would say) unreasonably short hair.

And, this is the most marvelous first paragraph (and a bit) of “An Orderly Man”:

I am an orderly man. I say this with no sense of false modesty or of conceit. It is a simple statement of fact. That’s all. Being orderly, as a matter of fact, can be excessively tiresome and it often irritates me greatly, but I cannot pull away. I sometimes think I would far prefer to live slumped in some attic amidst a litter of junk, dirty underclothing, greasy pots and pans, paints and canvases strewn about everywhere, an on-the-point-of-being-discarded mistress weeping dejectedly on the stairs, fungus on the walls, and an enormous overdraft at the bank or, better still, absolutely no money at all. Unvarnished, music-less, Puccini.

But it just didn’t work out for me. I have to live in an orderly manner; I’d tidy up the attic in a flash, scrub the pots and pans, and send the mistress back to her mother. Or husband. And keep what money I had, as frugally as a miser, in a sock beneath my mattress…

If this recipe is any indication he should have written a cookbook as well The Dirk Bogarde Estate. And, if I were a publisher I would reissue his complete works.

There is something so deeply satisfying with a paragraph as finely crafted as this – think about your favorite books… Did they grab you from the outset? Tell me all about them, my darlings, as always, I am ravenous for a good read.

Merci beaucoup!ย Vickie

24 comments

  1. George Kaplan

    Oh, books! What would the world be without them or movies or music or art or women (well, particular women)? It’d be Hell! In novels (and some memoirs, etc) there’s nothing like a good opening : “Call Me Ishmael”, “It was a pleasure to burn”, “Mill Walk does not exist on any map – let us acknowledge that at the beginning”, “The truth is, if old Major Dover hadn’t dropped dead at Taunton races Jim would never have come to Thursgood’s at all”, “LONDON. Michaelmas Term lately over, and the Lord Chancellor sitting in Lincoln’s Inn Hall. Implacable November weather. As much mud in the streets, as if the waters had but newly retired from the face of the earth, and it would not be wondeful to meet a Megalosaurus, forty feet long or so, waddling like an elephantine lizard up Holborn Hill…” (that from Bleak House, the rest of that page, especially the description of fog, is one of the finest first pages in the English language, er in my opinion), “It was love at first sight. The first time Yossarian saw the chaplain he fell madly in love with him.”, “I’m Jared, a ghost”, “The terror, which would not end for another twenty-eight years – if it ever did end – began, so far as I know or can tell, with a boat made from a sheet of newspaper floating down a gutter swollen with rain”. I love all of those and more, but, my, I do go on and I’ve hardly *said* anything!
    I have a desire to regale you with more observations and favourite books but I shall leave that… Instead here’s a few movie-related books you may like : Gielgud’s Letters which like Bogarde’s Ever, Dirk are often delightfully tart and bitchy; Richard E Grant’s film diaries With Nails, elegant and witty; David Thomson’s The Big Screen and Have You Seen?, fascinating and occasionally infuriating; John Boorman’s Adventures of a Suburban Boy; Steven DeRosa’s Writing With Hitchcock; oh and there are several more but I’m hungry and I fancy some chow, hope something catches your fancy. Ta Ta For Now!

    • Someone has a taste for thrillers, spies, mysteries — and classics! Thanks for the recommendations, especially Gielgud’s Letters and With Nails by Richard E. Grant (loved that movie) ๐Ÿ™‚

  2. George Kaplan

    One of my favourites…
    “I DEMAND to have some BOOZE!”
    “GETINTHEBACKOFTHEVAN!”
    “I mean to have you, boy. Even if it must be burglary!”
    Hilarious. But then’s the underlying fin de siecle melancholy exemplified by the “Paragon of animals” oratory the abandoned Withnail gives in the rain at the end. One of the most unexpectedly moving scenes ever. Your taste is perfection ๐Ÿ˜‰
    Oh, oh, oh that reminds me! You should read Smoking in Bed: Conversations With Bruce Robinson, in which he talks about Withnail and I and his career. Very witty and compelling.

  3. George Kaplan

    What I’m about to say isn’t really about this subject so why am I mentioning it? Well, dear… I. Don’t. Know! It’s just that I’m watching a show featuring reviews of David Bowie’s new album and of the new Bowie exhibition at the Victoria & Albert Museum. Seeing Bowie (though I can’t hear him. Argh) and reading your question about favourite books and how they “grabbed” us, sent what I laughingly refer to as my mind off on a tangent. I remember how I became a huge Bowie fan. It was fairly late on compared to most as I only truly got into music at 18-19 years old; I’d enjoyed seeing him in things over the years such as Labyrinth playing crazy-haired Goblin King Jareth (hey! I was a kid!) and, later, in Nic Roeg’s great, weird Man Who Fell to Earth and – the best thing in – Absolute Beginners (classic song, too); I already loved his voice which really *spoke* to me, and his appearance which was a strange combination of things but after I picked up The Singles Collection and read more about him that was it I was hooked. I bought his albums such as Hunky Dory, Rise and Fall Of Ziggy Stardust, Diamond Dogs, Station to Station, and Low, and there was a sort-of “recognition”, an imaginative kinship; the ideas were great, notions of *glamour* (cinematic and otherwise, glamour as magic), reality, identity, love, desire, haute strangeness drew me in, and of course the music was usually wonderful! It’s an odd thing, some art and entertainment inhabits you and *you* inhabit it. I’ve been a Bowie fan for years and despite his lesser or even pretty crappy work I still think him a kind of genius, and he always manages to return with something *great*. Viva David Robert Jones!
    Er, hope that wasn’t to sleep-inducing or weirdly off-topic ๐Ÿ™‚ R
    P. S. The first time I heard Dogs and Low I didn’t like them much, now I see them as masterpieces. Interesting. They were so idiosyncratic. Um. Goodbyee!

    • There’s a Bowie exhibit at the V&A? Are you going to go see it? I first heard Bowie when my big brother was… I think doing graduate work… anyway he came to visit us in London and he took me to a store called Biba’s (?) and bought me a long red cotton jersey kind of deco inflected dress, and told me I was “glam” and then had to explain what glam rock was. For some reason I ended up wearing it as a nightgown (my favorite) probably because I had to wear a school uniform all day long. Now, you had better be asleep!

  4. George Kaplan

    V., Barbara Hulanicki’s era-defining (much the same way Granny Takes A Trip and, later, Sex/Seditionaries were)Biba! I adore that story, it is sweet – and I can’t believe tight-a**ed is about to use this phrase, you force it out of me – and *so cool*.
    Apropos of nothing, I have had Bowie’s later floppy white soul boy hairstyle – as seen in The Man Who Fell To Earth and the Low cover from my birth year – appropriate as I am that most wickedly, stupidly, and hurtfully maligned of things : a redhead.
    I would love to see the V & A exhibition but the chances of that so unlikely as to be – virtually – nil. Maybe in the next life.

  5. “How do people get to this clandestine Archipelago? Hour by hour planes fly there, ships steer their course there, and trains thunder off to it โ€“ but all with nary a mark on them to tell of their destination. And at ticket windows or at travel bureaus for Soviet or foreign tourists the employees would be astounded if you were to ask for a ticket to go there. They know nothing and they’ve never heard of the Archipelago as a whole or of any one of its innumerable islands.”

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