Tuesday, 27 January 2009
Martin Amis and His Friends
To the National Portrait Gallery for a small exhibition of photographs by Angela Gorgas called: "Martin Amis and His Friends." You think I am pulling your leg? A spoof? No, it's true. That is indeed the subject of the exhibition. Angela Gorgas, the photographer, was a friend of Amis in the 1970s and you have to say he takes a good shot. There are images of Martin with a fag, Martin with a fag...Martin in a cloud of cigarette smoke, Martin with a white mini which was known as "the ash-tray" because it was full of fag ends...And there is Christopher Hitchens ("the Hitch") of course, and James Fenton and Mark Boxer and lots of rich and clever people with nicknames like "Tory". There is a younger Ian McEwan, looking a bit scary actually, and overall it is interesting but would confirm the prejudices of anyone who had a certain view of the metropolitan literati. This little world revolved around, at that time, a left-wing magazine, The New Statesman, which lends an extra piquancy. I remember walking into their offices in around 1979 with my first little piece, about some Labour Party shenanigans in south London, and being received by the political editor, Patrick Wintour, in a cramped office where I was warned about the springs erupting from the torn upholstery. Our confab was interrupted by the arrival of the Hitch who , I must say, did a very passable imitation of Wildean languour. They must all have had such fun.