Just found this intriguing interview between Evelyn Waugh and John Freeman of the BBC. It’s the first time I’ve seen him on camera, or heard his voice. As T.S. Eliot writes in “East Coker,” “It was not (to start again) what one had expected.” There’s about three or four silly minutes at the beginning of this, “framing” the 1960 interview for us modern viewers, warning us how tetchy Waugh was during this session. I don’t find him tetchy at all – I do find some of the questions a bit impertinent and testy. Waugh is terse in his answers – “everyone thinks ill of the BBC,” he says cheerfully when questioned – but then, this was his first appearance on TV. Why did he do it? “Poverty,” he explained succinctly to Freeman. “We’ve both been hired to talk in this deliriously happy way.” Enjoy.
Postscript on 10/7: We received a note from our favorite Polish photographer, Zygmunt Malinowski: “What an enjoyable BBC interview with Evelyn Waugh. Thank you! To me he appeared as a very pleasant person bombarded by so many personal questions. No wonder some of his answers were short. Besides, he did not seem to appear irritable until the very end. Right in the beginning what intrigued me were the fluid portrait drawings and, to my surprise, at the end Feliks Topolski was credited as the artist. If I remember correctly, one of Topolski’s portraits is hanging in the Polish Instytut of Arts and Sciences in NYC. Next time I am there I will check what writer he depicted.”