|Story reviews his own book Letters to an Intimate Stranger. Taken from the Savoy book Jack on the Box >>|
to an Intimate Stranger Jack Trevor
Allison & Busby £2.50.
"Dripping is the staff of life, not bread. It also gets
engine black off your hands, stops doors from squeaking and preserves
leather. Lanolin for your skin is a form of weatherproof dripping.
When you come to think about it, people are made of dripping. When
they bury the poet’s ashes in Westminster Abbey they’ve already
thrown the best part away."
if you like dripping with the black jelly at the bottom the above is a
fair and flavoursome sample rendered from Jack Trevor Story’s vitals
and presented in a basin as Letters
to an Intimate Stranger. Like all artists working for posterity
— the “intimate stranger” of the title — Story is unlikely to
be around when his public start buying his book and this accounts for
his improvident, bread and dripping existence in the film-star belt of
Hampstead, NW3. Even well known titles of his like The
Trouble With Harry (filmed by Hitchcock) and Live
Now Pay Later (also filmed) brought in less money than his
girl-friend Maggie earned as a temp.
glad,” Mr. Story told me, simply. “I would not like to think that
people of the seventies understood my work. If you show a dog a mirror
and it barks there’s something seriously wrong — either with the
dog or the mirror.”
he says things like that you feel he is really trying to say something
else and this gives the clue to his poverty; not enough people will
take the trouble to read between the lines. For of course he is not
poor at all, he does not live in Hampstead, he has not got a girl
called Maggie or a dog named Poodle and that enormous Ford Galaxie
convertible is one of several used by himself and his staff gathering
material in the creation of the down-and-out mythology so essential to
so I’m rich!” he finally screamed when I caught him throwing
cigarette stubs away. “Shakespeare was bloody rich, Dickens was
rich, Goethe was bloody rich!” He fell back in his chair, turned it
up on one leg then crashed on the floor, his breath rasping
asthmatically through his ugly teeth. “I can’t help being rich,”
he sobbed. “Why did she leave me, why did she go?” he then sang.
rational than most authors, it is perhaps this element that comes out
in his writing in the form of a somewhat insanely fragmented style —
rather like people who can’t say “and” or “hitherto”. “The
perfectly constructed sentence needs no punctuation,” he explained
when he’d been quietened down, admitting at the same time that he
has not yet written one. “Also if I’m saying one thing and another
thing comes into my head, I jump to it — whatever sparked me should
spark the reader’s understanding.” I ventured to point out that
this is asking a little too much of readers. “I know it is, you
silly sod,” he said.
therefore gets the feeling that whatever Jack Trevor Story is doing in
literature is intentional, which makes it harder to forgive. Jealous
of better and more successful authors like Harold Robbins, he devotes
a chapter to pulling him to pieces, then turns and savages television
producers who are trying to keep him reasonably coherent. I fell
asleep while he was trying to explain in bad, rambling English with an
East Anglian accent, his voice rattling on like a tractor down a long
road, the difference between comedy (which he certainly doesn’t
write) and humour (which he certainly doesn’t write).
has never been sufficiently recognised,” he was quoting from p.65 of
his own book when I woke up, “that a humorist is a brain surgeon
many of your characters in the Guardian column are real?” I asked
him. Most of the pieces in this book appeared in the Saturday Guardian.
He doesn’t answer questions like that and went on about his
hernia. From the book you may discover that while many of the friends
he mentions are part of his real-life scene, the dialogue is written
to suit the context and make points. He reserves fictitious names for
anything libellous. “She was only going to Brussels for a month,”
he kept saying.
talk about the Burtons living next door, Mr. Story. Do you actually
know them to speak to?”
I tried to kiss her mouth she turned her face away,” he said. This
is all on the obsessive theme of his girl friend, Maggie.
is the theme of your new novel?” I asked him.
are not sentimental, that’s the trouble,” he said. “You think they
are, but they’re not. Men are sentimental. Why, I gave Maggie her
first —he groped for a moment— well, something or other. I know it
was her first. She said ‘I’ve never had one of these before.’ We
were like that.”
was a relief to get away — from Story, from his book. The publishers
have cunningly kept title and author name off the front cover in the
hope that somebody will buy it in mistake for the new Samuel Pepys’s
Copyright © the estate of Jack Trevor Story 2002. Not for reproduction. Copyright in all work by Jack Trevor Story is the property of the author's heirs. Permission for use of this material can be obtained through Jackie Edwards (Story), Peter Story, Lee Story or Michael Moorcock. Reproduction of copyright material whether in text, visual or audio form by unauthorised sources strictly forbidden.