This Much I Know
by Gyles Brandreth
To really succeed in life I believe you need physical
courage. I don’t have it. Winston Churchill had it. Laurence
Olivier had it. My son has it; I envy him.
I couldn’t commit a murder. I lack the nerve.
I do have black thoughts about people and I try to stop myself because
of the consequences. Several people have died all too soon after
I have wished them dead. I feel quite guilty about it at times.
I have known a number of murderers. Indeed, I include
one convicted murderess among my friends. She is a lovely lady and
a writer, too.
I used to have a painting by a once-notorious murderer
called Donald Hume on my study wall, but my wife made me destroy
it when she discovered that he had dismembered one of his victims
and dropped them in pieces out of an aeroplane flying over the Essex
I have been writing ever since I can remember. I write
as a way of life and, in a way, instead of living. I don’t
drink; I don’t smoke; I’ve never touched drugs; I always
use the zebra crossing. But when I write, I can live quite dangerously.
At the moment, in my head I’m living with Oscar
Wilde in Paris in 1883. We are dining with Sarah Bernhardt tonight.
She was extraordinary. She used to offer her guests glasses of champagne
or ready-filled syringes of cocaine, as they wished.
As a little boy, I spent hundreds of hours in church,
both as a server and as a choirboy. At St Stephen’s, Gloucester
Road, in a haze of incense, T S Eliot once ran his fingers through
my hair. After my voice broke, I never sang again.
As a politician, my happiest time was serving as a
whip in the dying days of the last Conservative government. As a
performer, my happiest time was playing Dorothy from The Wizard
of Oz in a musical revue in the West End. In my experience, straight
men are much more convincing as women than gay men are.
Why do I keep working? Because I need the money. I’ve
found that money is the one thing that keeps you in touch with your
Taken from the John Murray sales brochure
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