Cold Cream, By Ferdinand Mount

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The Independent Culture

Aside from the off-putting title (the author's eccentric mother used cold cream as a "universal magic salve"), this is pretty much the perfect memoir. Self-deprecatory, unobtrusive and enviably well-connected, Mount recalls minor characters with the same panache as star players.

His story moves from aristocratic bohemia to Fleet Street at its most tipsy (Mount was rebuffed by the glacial Ted Heath: "I didn't realise this was going to be such a superficial interview") and No 10, where working for Thatcher was "a holiday from irony". Told with admirable indiscretion, the book has an innocent-at-large quality reminiscent of early Waugh novels.