Monday 5 January 2015


Faber publish an anthology titled The Complete Book of Aunts. (There was also The Faber Book of Christmas, with one of my favourite indexes ever: alcoholism, death, despair, disease …) A work colleague and I once started gathering pieces for a proposed Faber Book of Trousers. Contents included a letter from Martin Luther to his tailor; Lenin’s interruption of his journey by train from exile to Russia in 1917 to buy a new pair of trousers, followed by an eye-witness account of his giving a speech in St Petersburg in which the journalist John Reed noted that his trousers looked too big; a newspaper account of Pamella Bordes scissoring the crotch out of a pair of Andrew Neil’s trousers; and the death, in Nabokov’s Transparent Things, of Hugh Person’s father while trying on a pair of trousers in the fitting room of a menswear shop.

Also this, which I remembered this week: a thank-you note from T. S. Eliot to the father of a near neighbour whose surplus clothing coupons (this was during the war) allowed Eliot to purchase a new pair of trousers. With the note, Eliot also sent two LP records of himself reading his poems. John Bodley at Faber was excited by these: one of the records was not listed in any discography or catalogue. Unfortunately the record was so scratched that it was unplayable.

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