Until Monday night, I had never heard of Julian Maclaren-Ross. Four years of English literature and – until the Internet fried my concentration – years of avid reading, and he’d never crossed my radar. I’d not heard of his Classic, nor the memoirs and stories that recounted his life, from vacuum cleaner selling to literary Fitzrovia, via the second world war and ending, early, in too much drink and too many drugs.
According to his biographer, Maclaren-Ross lived a tragi – comic life. I like this description. I think many people live a tragic life but I wonder how often the comic cuts through. According to the people the biographer interviewed, he was tall, thin, self destructive, egoistical, arrogant. His prose taut and before it’s time; his genius recognised and, by the sounds of it, slightly indulged.
It is the first time that I have met a writer through his biographer rather than through his pages. It was unexpectedly enjoyable to meet him this way, though I wonder if I would have created the same image had it been the other way around. I am not, in this case, sure about how much insight we got into his thinking, as opposed to his way of living, and I wonder how much they overlap.
I guess I’ll find that out.
One of the things I love about London is discovering the things hidden just below the surface. Stumbling over random talks and quirky events, tapping into communities built around things you wouldn’t imagine communities to be built round, and trying them out to see what fits. Strange introductions to new places and, through them, new people. Stories that rub shoulders and run underneath the physical city weaving everything into a tapestry –
There are so many different ways into London and I remain surprised that they all seem to crossover or join up, despite the vastly different start points. Or maybe that linking up is just how we create our own City….and we’re back to that version thing again?
I guess, thinking about it now, that this concept is one of the things that fascinated me about Monday night too, only this time we were listening to a version of a man rather than one of a place. I know that that happens all the time – it’s just the act isn’t always so explicit and I was reminded, again, of how complicated and multi-faceted we are as well. How we are also made of our millions of stories and it is hard to untangle where these end or start –
It is strange that I even forgot.