122. 1 May 1997 [ES] (Lenin; Bacon's Essays; Woodstock)

previously unpublished; © the estate of eric sams and beatrice cazac (Mrs. Mathew’s letters)

Dear Hayat,

   Thanks for yours: as ever, full of lively interest and fun. So was nice Charles Nicholl, at our recent lunch. But the time fleets by in cheerful chat, and nothing is left but sunshine, by which all subsequent days have been distinguished. I think I must live more for the moment, and stop making plans except carpe diem. Which reminds me that I'm off to Eastbourne today to see a dear schoolfriend. It hardly seems a moment since we were being fitted with our gas masks, about which we both complained that they were so difficult to laugh in.

   Apart from being a fugitive from the election, I'm not up to much in any sense of that expression, and only occasionally into something new (or as new as the 400 years old can be). I voted today, if only in order to refute son Richard, who says that my politics are somewhat to the right of Genghis Khan. They used to be somewhat to the left of Lenin (whom I always found rather amusing, as when he said of the German Revolutionary Socialist Workers Party that, come the revolution, they wouldn't even be able to seize a railway station without first buying platform tickets).

   [...] I've had to say no, heavy hearted, to one of dear Diana's dinners - the occasion, I recall, on which we first met, representing Shakespeare and Bacon, though (in life as in art) no one could quite tell which was which. I fear that my suggestions about how Shakespeare helped to polish up Bacon's Essays, in the intervals of revising the Authorised Version were (charitably?) ascribed to over-enthusiasm.

   I'm glad you like Woodstock. How about The True Tragedy of Richard III, another sort of Part I? I reckon Camden's tally is about right, if somewhat understated. As to Shakespeare's publication of his own Collected Works, I think he was ready to do so, c. 1616 (perhaps after his merry meeting with Ben Jonson) but died instead. Which reminds me (I depend a lot on the aide-memoire: life itself is a knotted handkerchief) that I must get on with Real Part 2.

   Just time to say, before Eastbourne stops at this train (Einstein is among my heroes) that I loved the review. Essex as Elizabeth's son is delightful: failed matricide answered by successful filicide.

   Farewell for now: to get on I have to get off.

   Best as ever,

   Yours Eric