Tag Archives: George Layton

Tom, George and the others

A long time ago, when the New Librarian had just left school, she came and stayed with us, doing some unpaid work in the local bookshop. One day she came home and mentioned she’d been out on a school visit with some actor who’d written a book. I asked who. She’d clearly not had a lot of interest in an older man she’d never heard of, so the name was some time coming, but once I’d established it was George Layton – and I’d had no idea he was visiting! – I turned green [with envy].

It was so unfair that she’d met him, when I’d ‘always loved him’ and I wanted to stomp my foot.

Luckily, George came back, and more than once. So I did get to meet him (see about lunch here), and I bought his short story collections and got his autograph, and… Well, at the time I liked the stories. I don’t know if I still would.

Same bookshop, slightly later, another of my younger days’ favourites turned up. Tom Conti, who’s even more handsome than George. I know that in book terms this is irrelevant, but I thought I’d mention it anyway. He came because he’d written a novel, and I bought a copy. Obviously.

I sort of wish I hadn’t. It wasn’t bad, but it wasn’t good. These days I’d start by assuming it to be just another celebrity book, but then I was more naïve. Besides, it had been written [I hope it had, anyway] by my kind of celebrity. But yeah, I wouldn’t mind if I’d not read it.

The celebrity avalanche is just getting worse and worse. Someone on social media was saying how the latest announcement of a celebrity book [by someone I don’t know] was so welcome, because it had to have been at least 48 hours since the one before it.

The most recent one I received in the post I put to the side immediately. I felt slightly rotten doing it, but if someone is already famous – even when I don’t have any idea who they are – and are getting a good financial deal from the publisher, then they don’t need a review from me. I can’t help them on their way to greater greatness.

I’m very happy to have met Tom Conti and only slightly annoyed that he didn’t sign the book I then went on to not like (there is a farcical story about the non-signing of his books, involving a train). But I got closer than the 20-year-old me would ever have thought possible.

Likewise with George Layton. As I watched Doctor in the House in pre-historic times, I simply didn’t believe that one day I’d meet him. Or that the first thing he’d say was that he needed to pee.

Senior moments

I owe my friend CG this title. We had a Nordic ladies lunch about a week ago, and CG is good for stories anyway, but I felt right at home with her senior moments, because I appear to have a few of them myself. CG talks like Little My of the Moomins, which makes her literary, too. And I found a few years ago that we share Adele Geras, and I do like a shrinking world.

Anyway, it’s all about forgetting the simplest things. Not that the complicated things are easier, you understand, but there’s the professorial touch about it. I can remember (yes, really) that lesson at school when the teacher asked me what the day’s homework had been about. I couldn’t recall, which didn’t look very good. Had she only asked me a specific question regarding the homework, I’d have been fine. I knew it. Just couldn’t remember the bigger picture.

I was reminded last week of an anthology I own, because Michelle Magorian wrote one of the stories. It’s called War, Stories of Conflict, edited by Michael Morpurgo. And I’ve been ashamed for years that I’ve just not got round to reading it. So, out it came, and I started with Michelle’s story. I had read it before. Checked the other stories. I had read them, too. Somewhere, some time in the last few years I read the book, before putting it back on the shelves. I just wonder when?

Not to worry. It’s a wonderful collection, with stories written by some of our best authors. I bought it because George Layton, who’s in it, talked about it while we had lunch. It wasn’t just the two of us, unfortunately, but I did have lunch with him. George is someone I was dead keen on when I was a teenager. Weird, how things happen. He very kindly assumed I’d know all the Swedish entertainers that he knows. I do, but only from magazines and television. Nice to be treated like an equal.