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The Independent Culture
Autobiography

by Noel Coward,

Methuen, pounds 12.99

512pp

GATHERED HERE for the first time, the master's tweely-titled memoirs - Present Indicative, Past Conditional and Future Indefinite - are tense only in name. Coward's burnished prose proves wearisome over the long haul. Sheridan Morley points out he was "totally discreet about his sexuality". Sadly, the same discretion does not apply to his state of health. Worst of all, the book is bereft of Coward's waspish wit, unless one presumes his view that "Lord Mountbatten is one of the most outstanding men of our times" was meant ironically.

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