callmemadam (callmemadam) wrote,

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handbags & gladrags, waviana

On Sunday evening I watched The Waughs: Fathers and Sons on BBC4. It was presented by Alexander Waugh, son of Auberon and grandson of Evelyn. I know quite a lot about Evelyn Waugh. I have read all his novels and most of his letters and journals (never a dull word) plus several biographies. I consider him to be the greatest English prose stylist of the twentieth century, although others may put in a good claim for P G Wodehouse. About Alexander Waugh I knew nothing at all before watching this programme. I have learned that he is proud of his family, loves his children and plays the piano rather well. So why did he get an hour and a half of TV time in order to show us his agreeable home and delightful family, the houses of his forebears and their graves? At times it was like a Hello! magazine article about My Perfect Life, with My Upper Middle Class In-Laws and My Aristocratic Uncle thrown in.

The programme’s saving grace was Mr Waugh’s touching filial affection for his late father, Bron, for whom his own sweet son is named. I’ve been missing Auberon Waugh this week. For some time now a copy of his book The Way of the World has been lying around in the sitting room. Every now and then I pick it up, dip in and sit shaking with laughter. It is a rare gift to be able to offend everybody with outwardly outrageous-seeming opinions, to be extremely funny and still to have an important point to make and I can’t think of any journalist today who is doing it. Craig Brown is brilliant but lacks the killer instinct (and is probably a nicer man).

Waugh Jnr. is not so amusing yet he inherits the crown. What does it all come down to? That your grandad was a genius. And yes, Freuds, I’m looking at you, too.

PS Auberon Waugh’s early novels, The Foxglove Saga and the rest, are well worth reading if you can find them.
Tags: auberon waugh, evelyn waugh

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