A Frank Man

  • John Arlott

Abstract

Short of meeting a man, there can be no better introduction to him than such a book as Lucky Jim. That came first; then an introduction in Swansea, a relatively brief meeting, followed shortly afterwards by an agreement to meet there on a second visit to the city. That produced a long-standing friendship. It was prefaced by a telephone call made in 1958 by James Arlott. He, who died tragically early on 1 January 1966, had a fine sense of humour and a considerable capacity for mimicry. From a kiosk, and speaking in broken English, he convinced Kingsley Amis that he was an earnest foreign visitor anxious to meet him. Kingsley made every conceivable kind of excuse to avoid inviting him to his home, and the young man ended with ‘Well, if you won’t meet me, may I stand outside and look at your house?’ ‘Oh, all right, I suppose you had better come and have a cup of tea.’ On the Arlott party’s arrival, Kingsley blurted out ‘Sorry, but I have got a terrible foreigner coming — I did not have the heart to refuse him.’ His relief and laughter when the story was unfolded to him — and convinced only by the repetition ‘May I stand outside and look at your house?’ — were almost moving in their depth of reaction.

Copyright information

© Dale Salwak 1990

Authors and Affiliations

  • John Arlott

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