Bill likes Walter, but he loves Kinky

The President's Favourite Author

Purcell Room, Royal Festival Hall

There are those who talk and those who don't. The President's favourite intern has talked plenty but on Wednesday night his favourite novelist was keeping mum. Walter Mosley arrived in London to promote his new book Always Outnumbered, Always Outgunned, in the midst of Clinton's biggest sex scare to date.

He was, he said, being hounded by TV stations and newspapers desperate to get his reaction to girls who drink baby gravy while wearing abused party frocks. However, the novelist whose central hero is a man called Easy with a penchant for warm-hearted prostitutes, told them he didn't think the Clinton affair was worth mentioning. He'd rather talk about Aids in Africa, he said. Needless to say he didn't make it to the Breakfast sofa. An Armani-clad Paul Boeteng MP pre-empted any journalists in the Purcell audience by asking the first presidential question. What did Walter think about being the President's favourite novelist? "Umm," answered Walter.

The rest of the audience were keen to talk about the position of black culture in the American dream. Could black people be diluted by hanging out with white men; what had he thought of Amistad?

No, he thought dilution was unlikely and yes, the slave scenes were very good, came his considered reply. Was it important that his books were stocked in, say, the black culture section of the bookstore? "No," he said pragmatically, "they should be anywhere they'll sell, man."

As the evening drew to a close, the man to my left thrust a book at me; Kinky Friedman - Armadillos and Old Lace. The front cover bore an inscription from Bill Clinton: "Dear Kinky, More please, I really need the laughs." The man earnestly explained that he liked Walter but Kinky was better. "But I suppose," he continued. "Bill's had enough Kinky for one lifetime."

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