A few days ago my old friend Jean-Pierre Sertin made me an offer I can’t refuse (though I daresay he may withdraw it when he next sobers up). He agreed to transcribe the remaining chapters of my mesmerising memoirs, Conversations with Speyer.
This has come as something as a relief: not only had I feared that the notebooks containing my original text were lost, but I was concerned that my wife would not have the time to copy any of it out, engaged as she is on rather more diverting tasks. Not that I blame her. I am, of course, incredibly proud of her achievements in the field of contemporary poetry. She is six and a half times the writer I shall ever be (and at least forty times the poet). All the same, I shall miss the patient service she supplied. If she wasn’t the most conscientious editor in the world (bearing in mind the fact that English is her third language) she was at least a kind one. Not once did she tell me that the words she was typing up were a worthless stream of driveling nonsense.
I know not whether Jean-Pierre Sertin will be quite so forgiving. His track record suggests not. Nonetheless I do hope that he will lay his criticisms on lightly. Being an editor myself has been scant preparation for being edited, just as being a reader does not prepare one for being read.