The Book of Wag

By Paul Sidey

A remarkable posthumous South London novel from a legendary editor

Friday, 17 April 2015

A letter to Angela

Dear Friends of Paul

I just found this copy of a letter Paul wrote to Angela Carter in February 1981, when he had left Penguin for Hutchinson, at their offices in Fitzroy Square, and she had taken up a teaching post in Providence Long Island.

I  don't know why I seem to feel compelled to share these random snippets from Paul's writings with you on a Friday, but I do. 



P.S. Work on the ms of Wag is nearly finished!

Dear Angela,

M & I have just come back from two bizarre weeks in Yucatan. Climbed all 91 vertiginous steps of the Great Temple at Chitchin-Itsa, paused before the great pit of the Virgin (?), and knocked back (on one occasion only) a huge slug of volcanic Mescal (a disgusting but intoxicating beverage with a dead worm at the bottom of the bottle, and a smell like roasted felt underlay that has just been removed from an old damp house).

Watched the iguanas take their sun on the beach in front of our luxury villa, while pelicans divebombed the snorkellers from next door. Read Shogun, and even enjoyed it.

But now it's the insolence of office once more, where I suffered, on my first day back, the pangs of despised desk: my desk had simply and utterly vanished from my office. Was this an unsubtle hint, I asked myself. Retrenchment roams the land once more. And although hopes for a turn-around situation are voiced in the dark, I do not believe that we have reached a satisfactory cash-generational situation at this time.

Apparently persons unknown had nipped in over the weekend, and removed my desk (old I knew it was, but antique never) as well as the MD's (decidedly antique). They also stole an ugly clock that had stopped just past Grantchester time. The Old Bill expressed medium to little interest, and were not impressed with the identifying clue I suggested for forensics of a large stain on the leather surface above the right drawer, caused by a bacon sandwich from Maria's.

But I still have a job. And even a work station replacement that does the trick quite adequately. I buy the odd book, occasionally the very odd book. I speak to Barbara Cartland on the telephone, and she asks my advice on altitude pills for a trip to Colorado. She sends me her new manuscripts (299th just in) via her chauffeur and Claridges. I stare into the middle distance.

How are the good folk of Providence? Have you resisted attacks from fear-crazed squirrels, structuralists, and the windchill factor?

Hope to hear your news, views etc soon.




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