Exposing Aspiran’s Entrails

13th November 2021 |

Now that my book has finally gone to the printer I find it hard to believe that it’s taken me almost four years to write. I started on it in 2017, soon after my last visit to New York which was also the last time I saw Harry Evans. He gave me lunch on the East Side at what I suppose was a favourite restaurant since everyone there knew him. Later in the year, with some trepidation, I asked him to read the first 20,000 words which were about my early childhood and the war. He wrote back:

“Ted, I read it all at one go. It is enchanting. Beautifully observed. It will resonate with many who lived it and charm the rest.”

Since he was a truly great newspaper editor and then the boss of Random House his opinion was clearly valuable, and I determined to go on with it, but knowing how lazy I’ve become in my old age I thought publishing it in chapters on my website might keep me going. It worked I guess, but awfully slowly. Harry died three years later, and I still hadn’t finished it. I’m still grieving. I know he would have loved the title.

Anyway, it’s done now, and I’ve promised quite a lot of people that I would do an audio version. There are already recorded versions of Jupiter’s Travels and Dreaming of Jupiter, and they’ve done well. The reader, Rupert Degas, is brilliant and they are both very classy interpretations, but I think this story of my life doesn’t need to be that sophisticated. In fact, I fancy doing it at the kitchen table, and if there are occasional noises, well, so be it. I’ve noticed how rowdy my village street can be sometimes. There aren’t any juvenile scooter sods roaring up and down the street now, partly because the police took an interest after one of them knocked me flat on my back. But it’s the mayor who inadvertently spoiled their game. He has torn up the small square at the end of my road and exposed the village’s entrails.

The plan is to renovate and beautify the Placette as it’s called, but for now it’s a mess of deep holes with a quite bewildering substrate of pipes of all ages and dimensions to be pondered over by bewildered workers, although they seem now to have figured it out. For traffic – and drunken pedestrians – it’s a no-go area. We’ve been promised to have it back before Christmas, with water in the fountain as a bonus, but for now there are drills and compressors and things that go bang, and some of that noise might well be recorded for posterity if I go on with my plan.

You may recall that my partner’s house, where I was mainly living, burned down on New Year’s Eve with the guinea fowl in the oven (it wasn’t the oven, and we did rescue and consume the dinner while the house burned). They are still rebuilding it, otherwise that would have been a quieter place to record in. We were promised to have that back by Christmas too, but we all know about mice and men and supply chains. It seems there’s a shortage of windows, among other things.

So along with my book you might get a slice of recorded history, written by pneumatic drill, of the restoration of beautiful old Aspiran. It’s all to come, and more…