Writing for the first time since reports prematurely declared his demise imminent, the broadcaster and writer says he’s still got lots of living left to do
If I did so, I would do my best to bite him in the upper thigh, for he is a very mischievous fellow. He, my interviewer at the gates of doom, is like one of the old lags out of Evelyn Waugh’s classic novel Scoop, which I just happen to have been re-reading this week.
During my life I have read the book several times, each time with growing awareness that Waugh wasn’t exaggerating when he made every journalist in the book a confidence man. Journalism on that level is practised with a remorseless logic. Why say that you are quoting from the transcript of a broadcast when you can just leave it to be assumed that you have conducted a proper interview? If the victim objected, would anybody listen?
I’m not objecting, because I haven’t got time. In the interview I am represented as saying that I am losing my battle with leukaemia. Well, of course I am. Eventually I must. But the main thrust of the broadcast is, I can assure you, quite merry. In my life I have managed to get a certain amount done, and my chief aim now is to live longer so that I can do more. My current book of poems, Nefertiti in the Flak Tower, hits a pitch that I have been working towards all my life, and I sincerely hope that I am not finished yet. I enjoy life, but work has always come first. And the people I love feel the same about their own work. Nobody is a member of a leisured class.
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