Friday, March 07, 2008

An authentic utterance from a soul beyond the tomb

James Lovegrove has a very nice piece on four new books about spiritualism at the FT.

Also quite delightful to me: Peter Aspden speaks with Jeffrey Archer about prison life and other matters. Here's the opening, it really is a great piece:
One Arcadian summer in Cambridgeshire’s idyllic Grantchester Meadows, about 25 years ago, I was taking part in a charity cricket match that pitted the local newspaper’s team against a smattering of local celebrities. The scene was exquisitely lyrical; more to the point, I was batting well. I middled a ball to the square leg boundary, confident of adding four more runs. But the man fielding there moved sharply to one side, and had the audacity to catch me.

Lord Archer of Weston-super-Mare, or plain Jeffrey Archer as he was then, intercepted me in the pavilion at tea. “That was a good catch,” he said of his admittedly impressive effort. “You were going well.” And the exchange stayed with me, for its sheer brazenness and slightly tactless tone of self-congratulation. But that was 25 years ago, and in truth, we hadn’t seen anything yet.

I recount the details of the catch – but not the tea-time remark – as we sit in Archer’s spectacular penthouse apartment on Albert Embankment, and his face beams. “How very rude of me,” he says, twice, but he doesn’t mean it of course. Nothing could mean more to him than a compliment on his sporting prowess. He is the cat that got the cream, sidled away, and then discovered a whole vat of it round the next corner. “I couldn’t bat and I couldn’t bowl but I could field,” he says, managing to sound both self-deprecatory and self-satisfied, a frequent Archer trope.
I've had kind of a thing for Jeffrey Archer ever since I first read the amazing piece about him in Iain Sinclair's striking book Lights Out for the Territory...

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