Obituary: Alan Clark

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The Independent Culture
I KNEW Alan Clark at Eton, where I don't remember his playing the wall game, writes Anthony Blond [further to the obituaries by Alan Watkins and Ion Trewin, 8 September]. He was very much a "slack bob" at Oxford, where he philandered in a large car and insisted on being described by an American newspaper as a "wealthy sportsman", and later in Albany, where we shared his father's set, Alan living in the servant's quarters upstairs.

His days as a National Serviceman were minimal and painless, due perhaps to the influence of his mother, who, he told me, once had nine dukes to lunch.

He was briefly sort of ADC to a circuit judge but spent most of his time mucking around with cars, including an early Jaguar XK120, which he polished endlessly and was fast enough, he boasted, to hit pigeons.

He wrote a novel, Bargains at Special Prices, which Allan Wingate, where I worked, thought too cruel and, in 1960, was taken up by New Authors but was the subject of a writ from the stockbroker Edgar Astaire (now an associate of George Soros). I published his The Fall of Crete, which criticised Churchill, and gave him advances for two other books never written - and the money only returned when I sued him on the eve of two general elections.

As a friend Alan was triumphalist, arrogant, mildly treacherous, consistently mean and always tremendous fun. He possessed, and tried to hide, a streak of compassion of which he was slightly ashamed.