Hamble Campbell's Home Page

An occasional window on Hamble Campbell's world.

Wednesday, November 30, 2005


I was glad to hear that Radio 4 was broadcasting Frederic Raphael's novel The Glittering Prizes last week (not sure if there really is a The in the title, but there we are).

Mr Raphael was one of three lucky recipients of fan mail I sent when I was seventeen (a few years ago now, sadly). I had never sent such correspondence before and I have never sent one since. It must have been one of those teenage aberrations that we read so much of in the newspapers these days. Today's teenagers may steal cars to crash them or enjoy mood-changing chemicals, but in those days we wrote letters of appreciation to artistic types.

You may be curious to know the identity of the rest of the trio ........ They were the actor and autobiographer Alec McCowen and the poet Christopher Logue. They all made very nice replies which I still treasure somewhere in our house.

A few years after this letter-writing episode I dreamed that I was on an escalator in a big department store, going up, Mr Raphael descending on the escalator's counterpart. This no doubt shows what an ungrateful, megalomaniac mindset I possess, considering the writer had sent me such a very kind and gracious long letter in response to my inarticulate stuttered praise. However, some time later by coincidence my brother-in-law and his family moved into the next village to Mr Raphael's in France. We have been to visit them, so maybe this vision was more a prediction of an event in a shop than an allegory.

Incidentally, the book I so admired is called Like Men Betrayed. I wrote to Christopher Logue about his poem War Music and Alec McCowen's autobiography is Young Gemini.


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