I Once Met..., Compiled and Introduced by Richard Ingrams

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The Independent Culture

One of the more impressive things about this quirky collection, put together from 15 years of The Oldie magazine's "I Once Met..." column, is the cohesiveness of its tone. Whether meeting comedians or killers, or queens of all shapes and sizes, Oldie contributors are witty and irreverent; impressed but not too impressed – just like the magazine itself. The theory behind the column was that celebrities – in the old sense of the word – will let their guard down among harmless "civilians". Thus we discover that Larkin's early humour had "a strong excremental bias", EM Forster was rude to ladies with prams, and LS Lowry drew houses and people because "I can't draw trees at all." A charming collection.

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