You cannot live as I have lived and not end up like this...


Just had a quick read of the biography of the famously debauched Willie Donaldson. Must say it was for the most part a pretty interesting read - Donaldson seemed like a kind and likeable chap, albeit one who obviously had a cartload of hang-ups, which eventually manifested themselves in a liking for prostitutes and crack cocaine.

It was sobering to read of the man who had brought 'Beyond the Fringe' to the West End and who had even been engaged to Carly Simon spending his 60's sitting in his flat surrounded by twenty-something druggies, underworld-charred call girls, and the sad remains of his considerable talent.
He revelled in his role as a corrupter, a pied piper of decadence. I haven't seen it, but it called to mind what Gaw has said previously about the play
Jerusalem.

I particularly liked this passage from one of his memoirs - most apt.

'In real life a person is an unknowable jumble of contradictory qualities. Brave and cowardly. Cruel and kind. Treacherous and loyal. Feckless and prudent. In fiction, this would be confusing...This is a mistake that writers of biography make. They try to shape a life, to give it a fictional coherence. They should just tip the whole mess on the page and say:
"Here is a life of sorts. Make of it what you will"

5 comments:

Susan said...

Yes, some folks fall by the wayside. I blame it on the lottery (of life).

worm said...

thats the thing Susan - to all intents and purposes - he had won the lottery of life! Born a millionaire into a stable family, he had a moderate fame, friends in the highest circles, and access to some of the world's most desirable women. But I guess, as you say, it's like those lottery winners you read about in the paper who have died penniless, unhappy and alone

Brit said...

RE: the quote about biography, I recommend Michael Wharton's autobiography "The Missing Will", which perfectly follows that prescription, and is very funny.

worm said...

thanks for the recommendation brit, I've just bought the hardback on amazon for £3.50!

Gaw said...

I read this one too. I quite liked the fact that he was as fundamentally mysterious when you put the book down as when you picked it up. Why did he fuck everything up? Well, he just did. As Dostoevsky had it: people do as they will.