interruptions, was adept at incorporating them into his discourse, using them as stepping-stones to the development of his theme.
I did, he would go on, but not often; concerts were expensive and, besides, after London, live music in Paris was nearly always a disappointment. We listen a lot here too, his wife would say, pointing to an array of LPs on the shelves. Friends who were spending the weekend with them, and neighbours who occasionally dropped in on them in their converted farmhouse in the Black Mountains, high up above Abergavenny, were entertained to an evening of Baroque music on their excellent hi-fi equipment. His wife, a handsome woman with a mass of red hair piled up high on her head, would hand the records to him reverently, dusting them with a special cloth as she did so, but leaving the final gestures – the laying of the record on the turntable, the setting of the mechanism in motion, the gentle lowering of the stylus, the closing of the lid – to him.
I’m so uneducated, she would say. When I met him I thought a saraband was something you wore round your waist.
You had other qualities, he would say, smiling. But an appreciation of classical music was not one of them, she would say.
Between records he would often talk about his Paris years. After the death of his first wife what he needed most was solitude, he said. Not that he wanted to brood on what had happened, he just wanted to be alone. I suppose I took on more work than was strictly necessary, he would say, but I think I needed to feel that when one book was finished there was