The Missing Will

At the suggestion of Brit, I have just finished reading 'The Missing Will' - the relatively obscure autobiography of Michael Wharton, who was better known as the very long-standing writer of the Peter Simple column in The Telegraph. I remember reading the column a bit as a youngster and liking it in small doses -
( I actually preferred the Craig Brown version that followed, probably because I had grown old enough to understand it a bit better) The book is an excellent read, he certainly has a very easy way with his words and sentences, and his life was fairly colourful. Apart from his rampant infidelities, I was also interested to note that he describes himself as a 'Tory Anarchist'. He also puts forward a point that I haven't actually read in print before -that the voting in of Atlee and the creation of the welfare state was a bad thing for Great Britain.

Wharton believed strongly in the benefits to society of noblesse oblige, and thought it a grave error to hand over these feudal traditions to the 'trendy' urban left - who, in his eyes, were driven by envy to dismantle things they couldn't obtain. We are told in countless history books that this turning point in 1945 was the start of a long trajectory upwards for the common man, whereas Wharton thought that this was actually the beginning of the end. Interesting to read such an unashamedly right wing view in print.


Brit said...

Great isn't it. For a memoir that's partly fantasy, it's shockingly honest. eg. about the callous way he treats his wife and family.

I love the bit where he observes that being in the army was mostly hilarously funny.

There's a sequel called A Dubious Codicil which I've bought but haven't started yet.

worm said...

I may have to purchase that too - although I don't suppose a book about writing a column for 50 years is that exciting...?