Friday, 26 December 2008
My Harold Pinter Story
Well, it's not a very good one but here goes. A couple of years ago I was at a benefit for P.E.N at the Gate theatre, Notting Hill, where a Pinter double bill [A Kind of Alaska and A Slight Ache] was on. At the interval a surge of literati flowed into the tiny bar of the Gate and I found myself thrown against the playwright in a tight corner. Saying something seemed unavoidable but what? I suddenly recalled the opening of the British Library in the mid-1990s, an event (for reasons too long and boring to go into) to which I had been invited. On that day a crowd of writers and scholars, at a given signal, flowed into the virginal Humanities One Reading Room and the Library was declared open. Listening to the boring speeches, I exchanged a brief nod with the man (HP) standing next to me who seemed to share my ennui. So on that night in the Gate my mouth opened and out came the inane words: "Do you remember that day the British Library opened?" Famous for his fierce strategic rudeness to bores and people who irritated him I waited for some put down. Instead, with a broad, gnomic smile he declared in a wonderfully sage-like voice: "I remember many things."