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Page 3 Profile: Fay Weldon, author

A new novel out?

It’s called Long Live The King, and it’s about London society at the turn of the 20th Century when Edward II ascended the throne. And boy does she know how to promote it.

Slagging off the royals à la Mantel?

No, but she has given a rather bizarre interview in the latest edition of The Oldie magazine. The 81-year-old author describes two near-death experiences in which she apparently glimpsed the afterlife. Both of her visions came as she lay in hospital under general anaesthetic following heart problems.

And what did she see?

During one of the experiences, she “saw the proverbial light at the end of the tunnel, and there was certainly an extraordinary sense of warmth, communality and progress. The other time I saw pearly gates in garish Hindu-temple colours. They were double glazed and when they were pushed back I got a rather convincing glimpse of the other side.”

A chorus of angels? Unlimited prosperity? Fields of gold?

Disappointingly, “it was just more of the same – hard work, two steps forward, one step back.” Still, Weldon isn’t too bothered about death’s grim inevitability. “Yes! Roll on,” she said. “I don’t fear it but I know what it is to fear it – my mother did. I was with her when she died aged 94. She was too brave to say anything but we knew from her expression that she was frightened of the unknown. Our society behaves as if we’re going to stay young and live for ever. We ignore the fact that we are temporary.”

This is all absolutely barking

After writing 30 novels, she can say whatever she wants. Weldon certainly believes being older makes you wiser, “if only because you know what’s going to happen next in as much as something like it has happened before. Some people think it makes you cynical, but you’re not.”

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