One of my presents for Christmas was a copy of Christopher Logue’s autobiography, ‘Prince Charming’. It’s an entertaining read in its own right, self-deprecating and honest about his failings and full of great vignettes.
A call came from Kenneth Tynan inviting me to meet Marilyn Monroe and Arthur Miller. For my audience with Monroe I bought a new shirt, had my trousers cleaned and pressed, polished my shoes, washed my hair, brushed my teeth. What would she be wearing? How would her hair be done? If she smoked would I be able to light her next cigarette? I made sure my fingernails were clean.
Monroe was, however, crying and talking on the phone with Arthur Miller in separate rooms in the Tynan apartment. ‘He’s been talking to her for an hour. It doesn’t sound as if he’s going to be off for a while,’ Ken said. I left an hour later without even seeing her handbag.
Apart from the wonderful detail in this, I loved the ‘however’ enclosed by commas, something rarely done any more.
One other story I found illuminating too. Logue was a member of the Committee of 100, founded in 1960 by Bertrand Russell to oppose the UK’s possession of nuclear weapons. Its members used and advocated civil disobedience to achieve their aims. Planning demonstrations in Trafalgar Square and at Holy Loch, a number of members were arrested before the demonstrations and taken to magistrates court on September 12th 1961 where it was alleged that they "incited members of the public to commit breaches of the peace" and were likely to continue to do so. They were asked to bind themselves to a promise of good behaviour for 12 months. Of the thirty six summoned, thirty two chose the one-month prison sentence, including Logue, Arnold Wesker and Robert Bolt. Bolt was then about to start work on the film, Lawrence of Arabia and the producer of the film, Sam Spiegel, persuaded Bolt to sign after he had served only two weeks. Bolt later regretted his decision and allegedly did not speak to Speigel again after the film was completed.
This use of the law was an interesting foreshadowing of the ASBO. The 36 people summoned had not committed any offence. They were nevertheless taken to court and asked to promise not to commit an offence in future. Those who refused were then sent to prison. As with ASBOs, the process criminalised non-criminal behaviour.
[Given the choices, you didn't really think I was going to choose a picture of Bertrand Russell did you?]