Anthony powell

The real reason I don’t drink

It’s been 30 years this month since I last touched alcohol and I still can’t face the prospect of a social event without drinking. Other people drinking, that is. I’m terrified by the thought of going back on the sauce again, but that doesn’t mean I want to hang around with teetotallers who’ve never had to apologise after a party or suffered an apocalyptic hangover. That’s what keeps me away from the drink: the biological penalty One of the leitmotifs of Anthony Powell’s Dance to the Music of Time is that you can’t trust teetotallers. They’re control freaks who love seeing other people make fools of themselves. They spend the

I’m glad Anthony Powell didn’t take my writing advice

There is general excitement among the legions of fans of A Dance to the Music of Time: next week a plaque to Anthony Powell will be placed on 1 Chester Gate, the house where he started to write the many-volumed work of genius. I have a particular interest in attending, not only because Powell was married to my father’s sister Violet, but also because I took advantage of the relationship to lodge for several years in Chester Gate. This was when my parents chose to live maddeningly in Hampstead Garden Suburb and at the age of about 17 I was beginning to go to parties. Go to them? But how

The magic of Anthony Powell

Every few years I’ve picked up one or other of Anthony Powell’s A Dance to the Music of Time series and laid it aside after a few pages. Too wordy. Earlier this year I glanced again at A Question of Upbringing, the first of the 12 novels. A light came on and I was captured — providing yet another example of a novel repelling or attracting according to age, circumstances or mood. After that I tittered my way through the series, wondering at my previous humourlessness. I had one volume to go when I went into hospital last week for a minor operation, Hearing Secret Harmonies (1975), which I packed