A cruel trick

September 30, 2007 at 9:45 pm (Jim D, trivia, whisky)

I’m presently reading Zachary Leader’s “The Life Of Kingley Amis“, which contains many laugh-out-loud incidents. But I particularly like this one, involving Amis’s two best mates, Robert Conquest and Philip Larkin:

“…in June 1956, Amis recieved an official-looking envelope addressed to ‘Lieut. K. W. Amis, R. Signals, Class “B” Reserve Call-up (Malaya)…two years later…Larkin, a devoted fan of girlie magazines, recieved, as Amis recounts it, ‘a letter on government paper, as from the Vice Squad, Scotland Yard …the heading ‘Regina v. Art Studies Ltd.” Proceedings were being taken in the matter of the above, said the writer, under the Obscene  Publications Act 1921, also Regina v. Abse (1952) and Regina v. Logue (1957). Larkin’s attendance as a witness ‘might be required’. Larkin spent a terrified afternoon at his solicitor’s office before realising the letter was a joke. When the solicitor presented him with a bill for £10, he sent it on to Conquest in a letter of 15 March 1958. The letter begins:

“‘You sodding fool. I hope you get a laugh out of the enclosed, wch arrived (at my request) this morning. It isn’t a cod; i.e. someone’s got to pay it. You can guess whom I have in mind. Why can’t you play your japes on David Wright or Christopher Logue or some bastard who wd benefit from a cold sweat or two? Instead of plaguing yr. old pals’.

“Conquest was uncontrite – Larkin’s solicitor should have seen through the joke right away, the Act and the cases were ficticious – but he paid up and Larkin soon forgave him”.

1 Comment

  1. susan calder valley CLP said,

    a fine book -last year’s Christmas present,,,,,,,,

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