Books: The private eye on public life

`My Friend Christopher': lines in celebration of the poet and polemicist who mixes `gravity and waggery'.

Prince Charming: a memoir

by Christopher Logue

Faber & Faber, pounds 20, 352pp

For readers and writers alike do well to consider my friend Christopher in his seventy-third year to heaven. For that he still rolls in prank and pop and political newsprint

to work it all in to the woof of his verse.

For in his sly sleeket writings and his loud lewd readings

and his tiger-shrewd prowlings between the two

he counteracts the powers of darkness

by his rasping voice and glaring eyes.

For like his namesake Christopher Smart's Cat Jeoffry,

my friend Christopher "is tenacious of his point"

and like that cat, Logue too "is a mixture

of gravity and waggery".

For every house is incompleat without his volumes

of poetry, his versions of Homer, and this new book

of prose recalling his first 40 years, titled

Prince Charming because the front cover photo

is of eight-year-old Christopher in that role.

For it's a role Logue has gone on playing since

a lot better than many a real life Prince

of the day. I'd say.

For as his friend of yore, Kenneth Tynan saw:

"Christopher Logue

Is writing for Vogue.

This has got Doris Lessing

Guessing..."

For though he's an actor with flair, Logue's aware

of the deceptions of charm - of charming people

"whose faults bring their excuses with them.

Who let you think you think alike,

when you do not.

Who, while talking to you of a subject,

have another subject in mind."

For, as reveals,

Logue writes, hates and loves with due honesty.

For that my friend Christopher honours the memory

of his friend and co-editor Alex Trocchi

with whom he ran in mid-Fifties Paris,

but laments the junk addiction that rubbished

Trocchi's once immaculate mind and body.

For that Logue was an avid champion and disciple

of that avatar of truth-telling in our time,

Sam Beckett: "What struck me was his character.

He was, if one can have such a word,

anegoistic."

For that my friend Christopher was an early catalyst

of the fusion of two of our time's

more validly growing concerns,

oral verse with jazz,

and adapted Neruda's lyric cadence

for the landmark recording,

Red Bird Dancing

On Ivory - "from a Caribbean riddle,

answer: a tongue."

For by taunting Philip Larkin for "genteel bellyaching"

Logue provoked less mealy-mouthed lines from the glumbum.

For, as the lead puff on the Charming jacket mentions,

Logue is "never in anyone's gang"

though this quote stems from Sean O'Brien

who's always in everyone's (even Larkin's).

For that at midcentury, when most English poets

were even more bent than today's

on decoration and escape,

Logue demonstrated and wrote against bombs and war.

For that his memoir retails the unlikely fact

of Groucho Marx's "As a rule

I never forget a face, but in your case

I'll make an exception", being capped

by Bertrand Russell in 1961

resembling, Logue thought, "an angry ostrich"

- in response to a magistrate who sentenced

the 88-year-old sage to a week's imprisonment

for exposing our government's nuclear policies -

with: "I came here to save your life,

but having heard what you have to say,

I do not think that the end

justifies the means".

For that my friend Christopher added

wit, music, conscience and danger

to gigs that would have been so much duller

without him, including the notorious

First International Poetry Incarnation

at London's Albert Hall in '65

with which Albion's underground opened up,

and this all too slim tome closes down,

leaving this reader wanting more.

For though Fabber and Fabber's babbling blurb errs

when it avers Logue "invented the poster poem"

(he's but one of the many who've carried this on

from Mayakovsky and others long gone)

nonetheless, what Christopher produced in the genre -

from the high seriousness of "To My Fellow Artists"

sounding early warning of arms race destruction,

to the lighter but equally pointed vein

of "I Shall Vote Labour," just before

the 1966 re-election of US war-machine lackey

Harold Wilson - remains as uniquely resonant

As it was prophetic, damn it,

of these onwardly dying days of our own

daft and dastardly Disney world

in which yesterday's cartoon is today's true story: for -

"I shall vote Labour because

there are too few cars on the road

I shall vote Labour because I want to shop

in an all-weather precinct stretching from Yeovil to Glasgow...

I shall vote Labour because

deep in my heart

I am a Conservative... "

Suggested Topics
Arts and Entertainment
Emo rockers Fall Out Boy

music

Arts and Entertainment
Jamie Dornan as Christian Grey in Fifty Shades of Grey

film Sex scene trailer sees a shirtless Jamie Dornan turn up the heat

Arts and Entertainment

film

Arts and Entertainment
A sketch of Van Gogh has been discovered in the archives of Kunsthalle Bremen in Germany
arts + ents
Arts and Entertainment
Eleanor Catton has hit back after being accused of 'treachery' for criticising the government.
books
PROMOTED VIDEO
Arts and Entertainment
Taylor Swift is heading to Norwich for Radio 1's Big Weekend

music
Arts and Entertainment
Beer as folk: Vincent Franklin and Cyril Nri (centre) in ‘Cucumber’
tvReview: This slice of gay life in Manchester has universal appeal
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Arts and Entertainment

ebooksNow available in paperback
Arts and Entertainment

ebooks
Arts and Entertainment
‘A Day at the Races’ still stands up well today
film
Arts and Entertainment
‘The Royals’ – a ‘twisted, soapy take on England’s first family’
tvAnd its producers have already announced a second season...
Arts and Entertainment
Kraftwerk performing at the Neue Nationalgalerie (New National Gallery) museum in Berlin earlier this month
musicWhy a bunch of academics consider German electropoppers Kraftwerk worthy of their own symposium
Arts and Entertainment
Icelandic singer Bjork has been forced to release her album early after an online leak

music
Arts and Entertainment
Colin Firth as Harry Hart in Kingsman: The Secret Service

film
Arts and Entertainment
Brian Blessed as King Lear in the Guildford Shakespeare Company's performance of the play

theatre
Arts and Entertainment
In the picture: Anthony LaPaglia and Martin Freeman in 'The Eichmann Show'

tv
Arts and Entertainment
Anne Kirkbride and Bill Roache as Deirdre and Ken Barlow in Coronation Street

tvThe actress has died aged 60
Arts and Entertainment
Marianne Jean-Baptiste defends Joe Miller in Broadchurch series two

tv
Arts and Entertainment
The frill of it all: Hattie Morahan in 'The Changeling'

theatre
Arts and Entertainment
Gillian Anderson and David Duchovny may reunite for The X Files

tv
Arts and Entertainment
Jeremy Clarkson, left, and Richard Hammond upset the locals in South America
TV
News
A young woman punched a police officer after attending a gig by US rapper Snoop Dogg
people
Arts and Entertainment
Reese Witherspoon starring in 'Wild'

It's hard not to warm to Reese Witherspoon's heroismfilm
Arts and Entertainment
Word up: Robbie Coltrane as dictionary guru Doctor Johnson in the classic sitcom Blackadder the Third
books

Arts and Entertainment
The Oscar nominations are due to be announced today

Oscars 2015
Arts and Entertainment
Hacked off: Maisie Williams in ‘Cyberbully’

Maisie Williams single-handedly rises to the challenge

TV
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?

ES Rentals

    Independent Dating
    and  

    By clicking 'Search' you
    are agreeing to our
    Terms of Use.

    As in 1942, Germany must show restraint over Greece

    As in 1942, Germany must show restraint over Greece

    Mussolini tried to warn his ally of the danger of bringing the country to its knees. So should we, says Patrick Cockburn
    Britain's widening poverty gap should be causing outrage at the start of the election campaign

    The short stroll that should be our walk of shame

    Courting the global elite has failed to benefit Britain, as the vast disparity in wealth on display in the capital shows
    Homeless Veterans appeal: The rise of the working poor: when having a job cannot prevent poverty

    Homeless Veterans appeal

    The rise of the working poor: when having a job cannot prevent poverty
    Prince Charles the saviour of the nation? A new book highlights concerns about how political he will be when he eventually becomes king

    Prince Charles the saviour of the nation?

    A new book highlights concerns about how political he will be when he eventually becomes king
    How books can defeat Isis: Patrick Cockburn was able to update his agenda-setting 'The Rise of Islamic State' while under attack in Baghdad

    How books can defeat Isis

    Patrick Cockburn was able to update his agenda-setting 'The Rise of Islamic State' while under attack in Baghdad
    Judith Hackitt: The myths of elf 'n' safety

    Judith Hackitt: The myths of elf 'n' safety

    She may be in charge of minimising our risks of injury, but the chair of the Health and Safety Executive still wants children to be able to hurt themselves
    The open loathing between Barack Obama and Benjamin Netanyahu just got worse

    The open loathing between Obama and Netanyahu just got worse

    The Israeli PM's relationship with the Obama has always been chilly, but going over the President's head on Iran will do him no favours, says Rupert Cornwell
    French chefs get 'le huff' as nation slips down global cuisine rankings

    French chefs get 'le huff' as nation slips down global cuisine rankings

    Fury at British best restaurants survey sees French magazine produce a rival list
    Star choreographer Matthew Bourne gives young carers a chance to perform at Sadler's Wells

    Young carers to make dance debut

    What happened when superstar choreographer Matthew Bourne encouraged 27 teenage carers to think about themselves for once?
    Design Council's 70th anniversary: Four of the most intriguing prototypes from Ones to Watch

    Design Council's 70th anniversary

    Four of the most intriguing prototypes from Ones to Watch
    Dame Harriet Walter: The actress on learning what it is to age, plastic surgery, and her unease at being honoured by the establishment

    Dame Harriet Walter interview

    The actress on learning what it is to age, plastic surgery, and her unease at being honoured by the establishment
    Art should not be a slave to the ideas driving it

    Art should not be a slave to the ideas driving it

    Critics of Tom Stoppard's new play seem to agree that cerebral can never trump character, says DJ Taylor
    Bill Granger recipes: Our chef's winter salads will make you feel energised through February

    Bill Granger's winter salads

    Salads aren't just a bit on the side, says our chef - their crunch, colour and natural goodness are perfect for a midwinter pick-me-up
    England vs Wales: Cool head George Ford ready to put out dragon fire

    George Ford: Cool head ready to put out dragon fire

    No 10’s calmness under pressure will be key for England in Cardiff
    Michael Calvin: Time for Old Firm to put aside bigotry and forge new links

    Michael Calvin's Last Word

    Time for Old Firm to put aside bigotry and forge new links