The Guardian from London, Greater London, England on October 30, 1965 · 7
Get access to this page with a Free Trial

A Publisher Extra Newspaper

The Guardian from London, Greater London, England · 7

London, Greater London, England
Issue Date:
Saturday, October 30, 1965
Start Free Trial

THE GUARDIAN Saturday October 30 1985 7. FROST AND FROTH by Benedict Nightingale PHE Fabulous David Frost (so the compftre, in the voice of a ringmaster, introduces him) bounds happily on to the floor, bowing and smiling, and seizes the microphone in an amiable hug. " Thank you for your support," he says. " I shall always wear it, as they say." David Frost has appeared in London night clubs quite often. Indeed, one of the "main reasons he became linkman for TW3 was that Ned Sherrin saw him put on ar impromptu press conference as a cabaiet turn, and was impressed by his quickness. He still likes to do three or four weeks of metropolitan cabaret a year ; but his stint this week at Mister Smith's, In Manchester, is his first foray into the provinces. He fills his 35 minutes with one-man sketches and an almost frantic continuum of patter, an odd mixture of wit, intelligence and tattiness. "Read in this month's ' Reader's Digest '," says Frost, " How I found God, by Madame de Gaulle." Cracks like this are greeted with a moment of baffled silence, then with a knowing laughter from the back of the throat, gradually gaining momentum, which shows that the audience is pleased with its own ability to spot a point. But others get the quicker hoots, the superficial snorts through the nose, like the story of the lady who wouldn't eat tongue because it came from an animal's mouth. " So," says Frost, " the waiter brought her a boiled egg instead." David Frost grins and rolls his eyes, and proposes some Songs for Swinging Nudists : " Dancing cheek to cheek " and "People will see we're in love." Does the road from Shepherd's Bush, we begin to wonder, lead to Blackpool Pier? BUT, JUST AS WE steel ourselves to watch him produce a chamberpot or corset, like any red-nosed comic from any working-men's club, he revives ; and proceeds, with flourish and swagger, to be relevant. He conducts an orchestra of machine-guns, diving planes, and falling bombs, and explains, seriously, that it's all dedicated to the hope we never hear such sounds again. A Then there was a demonstration in Rhodesia against police brutality today," he says. " The police broke it up with clubs and stones. He does quite a witty piece on the Hilton hotels, in the voice of American travelogue and the language of scripture : " And Hilton said, let there be fcfid water. . .and, behold, there was a great sound of piped music, and great chargings of money," Others follow, put over with frenetic zest; and he finishes with that old chestnut about the sinking of the Queen in the Pool of London which so upset the traditionalists when it was done on television. The audience expects him to perform this, Frost says, rather as they used to expect Grade Fields to do " Sally in the Alley." "Thank you," says David Frost, bowing ana smiling, "for being a marvellous audience. A few marvels come up to ask him for autographs or to pass the time of day with him. He shakes everyone by the hand, tells them again how marvellous they are, and what a smashing time - he s having in Manchester; he smiles and signs and makes the thumbs-up sign ; he tells them how great it is to see them, and how he hopes they will meet again. Take care of yourself, smashing, marvellous.. One or two, swamped by good-will, retreat backwards from the superabundant source, staggered and dazed-looking. Frost cannot even escape from an obvious club bore without assuring him he'll be back in a jifTy. wringing him by the hand, and generally leaving him convinced that a fat contract from the BBC must be just around the corner. It is as if he felt it a duty to like people ; and a duty to show that success hasn't gone to his head. Indeed, there is always an earnest, even worried, well-meaningness under David Frost at his gushiest a youth leader under the master of ceremonies, the Nonconformist minister's son under the professional nonconformist. HE CLEARLY likes to feel that his work has some social justification ; the success of TW3, he says, is that it created a network of people who found their own doubts and irreverencies were much more general than they had known But he may also have some personal reasons for being earnest and worried just now In the communications world, as in looking-glass land, you have to run very fast to stay in" the same place. How, at 28, can Frost maintain the name he made at 23 ? David Frost puts on a bright, optimistic face, and doesn't admit the problem. TW3 and " Not So Much," he says, have provided him with an entirely marvellous springboard from which he can jump in a hundred and one directions. Certainly, he is keeping very busy and satisfactorily rich : ho admits that the week in Manchester has brought him a four-figure cheque. Apart from spots of cabaret (he has no other provincial plans just now) he is filming some interviews with well-known people for American television He is writing a book on the Dutch Resistance. He is keeping an eye on thr"?e companies he has started which, he says, deal with books, food and television. He is preparing for some guest appearances on American television, and may do some cabaret in New York. He is laying the ground for his new weekly BBC-TV programme, possibly called "The Frost Report," which should be seen in the spring : he describes it as " a cross between a show and a comic documentary." Besides all this, he h;is other ideas which, crjptically, he sas he'd rather not discuss We steel ourselves, finally, to ask the question which has been vexing all along. How much does he enjoy .success ' Is he interested in activity which might not bring a limelight with it ? " Oh, I'm lucky, marvellously lucky, I'm in a position to do exactly what I want, and I do it well, of I'm also lucky in that my objectives do happen to be in the public eve If they weren't I would pursue the n all the 'same, but. anyway, they arr public enough for the problem not to arise " England, for Ezra Pound BY DONALD DAVIE " Chesterton's England of has-been and wfij'-fwi (Pound, Canto LKXX) Aquitaine, England's loss, Maurie Hewlett drove across That Christmas. It was Pound Saw the English underground Angevin. Yellow grain From the bone springs again This summer, in defaced Surrey, and Hampshire's" waste. Whose land this is, is there none of these parts To say, and call him suzerain ? Southampton to Carlisle Hugh Casson found the style Uniform, England's boast Common from coast to coast ; Plate glass and frosted glass, Caving grange, poisoned fosse ; Green holly and the dancers Far as the fields of France. Grain in grange shall no men's hearts Swell, but Hie ded of those parts. The light for Grosseteste Corporeally pressed England; and everywhere Motes is the thickened air. Constable's summers spiced A loaf of honey sliced By minsters' towers. Where Now the gold and the vair,? Where now should a Bishop of Lincoln Through the smoke learn light's behaviour ? picture by Slanfredi Bellali of Ezra Pound in a iculptor'i tludio in Vtnict. TN a stuffy railway hotel in Venice I began to regret - the arrangement to meet Ezra Pound, who is 80 today. For the young poet remembered by so many people one had met, the elderly Pound who had written to me so urgently from St Elizabeth's mental hospital, Washington, DC, that much of his years in England should not be lost so many impressions must no--v become reality. It was too late; already near San Gregorio they would be saying, "That Irishwoman who wrote about Ezra in Kensington will be here soon." It was chilly going down the Grand Canal out of season. Earlier explorations of Pound's Italian background had been in the full heat of July. The small Rapallo fiat where he lived during the thirties had a small entrance hall with battered letter-boxes on the wall. How often had Pound come down to collect that varied post from all over Europe, Japan, America ! There had been poetry, friendship, monetary reform, and often, to destroy his peace of mind, news of events which made war seem Inevitable. Up those five flights of stairs " W.B " had pulled himself after illness, wondering what it was about Ezra ; what divided him so ? James Joyce, when Pound's name was mentioned in 1939, declared, " Poets keep off the politics 1 " but Pound was already on his way to the United States to see senators and Congressmen in an attempt to avert the conflict. The sense of failure with which he returned to Rapallo helped to charge his subsequent broadcasts from Rome, criticising American policy. Near Pisa I went in search of the American camp where Pound was ield for six months at the end of the war. The (.nest told of those barbed wire cages where the most dangerous prisoners were kept, under the hot sun or the cold of winter. After some weeks Pound, who only appeared to be eccentric, was moved to the medical compound. Talk with other people in the neighbourhood also confirmed many details of his most controversial work, the Pisan Cantos. All that remains is one small, cement-cracked military hut ; and the Apuan Alps, so finely described in the poetry, rise in all their beauty of outline above fields of maize and the tidy acres of what is now a rose farm. On his return to Italy in 1958 Pound lived mostly in the Tirol, but I was unable to go there until some years later, to find he was in a sanatorium. Ill health combined with much self-doubt and regret caused a crisis of the whole personality. Only sure of his own uncertainty, he told an interviewer that his intentions had been all right but he had gone the wrong way about things. More recently, in a little house near the Jake of Geneva, Oscar Kokoschka showed mc a drawing of Pound made when he was a little better but still Ezra Pound at eighty BY PATRICIA HUTCHINS The old man in his chair, head bent a little, listening to the little voice of the gat jet, accepting himself and his destiny, it aware of all the forces of the universe in and about that quiet room. Life is deeper here, more general, more intense than that of the lovers, the soldiers, and all the violence of the world. Maeterlinck, " Le Tragique Quotidien." uncommunicative. Kokoschka urged Pound to work on: "We are old but not finished. We still have much to do." EZRA POUND retains that American habit, less usual now perhaps, of shaking hands, and there is nothing indefinite about it. " Sorry, I must get my glasses," he says in a moment or two, and the soft-moving slippered feet go downstairs. In the pause, after nerves, careful dressing, that wait before the black entrance door, the cords slacken. Back In the chair opposite, Pound's long thin hands hold photographs of the Japanese dancer who took part in a play of Yeats'-, in 1916. " By Langdon Coburn, you remember him ? " I ask. " Oh, of course. Ah. ... I can see it now. That's Ito." He stoops, as if trying to enter Dulac's Kensington studio again. The white bush of hair grows back from a high forehead, and pinkish skin is endlessly scored, while eyes are often only dark points within half-closed lids and the rather uneven-edged mouth curves downwards. At another moment, pleased, the whole contour changes, pupils enlarge to blueish grey, and lips move upwards into a full smile. As Wyndham Lewis said to me while talking about his picture of a relaxed Pound which is now at the Tate, " Then Ezra sits up svddenly and looks at you." " Where did you get this of Fenollosa ? Very interesting." " A fnend In Japan sent it. and the one of his grave on the sacred island." Pound's family came of English stock, intermarried with Irish, and you can see his physical type any fair-day in Cork or Kerry tall, bony men, great lighters, storytellers, who blaze up like a furze-bush when opposed, and in old age reach a burnt-out serenity Much has been made of Pound as a cowboy, but it was only by chance he was born in the Midwest on October 30, 1885, and his parents left there with him some eignteen months later. An only child, Ezra was brought up sedately enough in a suburb of Philadelphia, went to university, and, through his mother, had some social connections in New York and London. Long residence in Europe has softened voice and accent. The actor of the excellent BBC recordings, the man who wrote "Personae," now has no masks. At Pisa Pound had leamt to sit still Speech is an effort, some cybernetics! weakness maybe, yet' replies are always to the point He had not met Hardy and he laughed at the idea that Hardy might have Kept their correspondence. " It was only a few notes. I didn't keep letters in those days." He had never been on Arnold Bennett's yacht : had met him in Paris. Thus we cleared up a number of points which only Pound could answer and he urged me again to piece together the story of Charles Granville, one of his early publishers. "It would almost make a novel." We spoke of various friends I had interviewed, and also the lady who said she had danced with Ezra Pound once. "And she suffered I " he addea. " Yes, she said it was like dancing with a goat I " The death of T. S. Eliot, for which Pound was unprepared, had been a great jolt Yet it brought Pound out Into the world again, the last of that generation of writers who did much to shape our own awareness. He was present at the Westminster Abbey memorial service ; a few old friends were contacted. In Dublin, after many years, he saw Mrs W. B. Yeats again. Several new translations, from Horace and Rimbaud, have appeared, and at the Festival of Two Worlds at Spoleto, Pound not only saw a performance of his short opera based on Villon's " Testament " but read poems by other poets there. More cantos continue to come into print "Everyone asks Ezra questions," said a friend protectively; for Uthough Pound goes for walks, and swims sometimes in the summer, his reserves of strength arc limited. "Well, there are things intuitions, in the work we need to understand. After all, he urged that there is no real literature without curiosity." I turned towards Pound, who was sitting on my right, and he was smiling. miscellany BY STANLEY REYNOLDS tV all those personages great and " commonly uncommon, whose life and haid 1 have over a decade of doorstep interviewing been wont to compress into live terse paragraphs and ,i picture caption. 1 humbly beg forgiveness My lapels lie rent, the inquiring esc abashed Death look the dssiissin a few weeks ago, by alow strangulation and he didn't even bother to warm his lingers first Like most humble scribblers of feuillottes, I have from time to time lehear.sed my speech for the Nobel prize giving day in Stockholm, but iciently when one of our new neurotic glossus manoeuvred me into the punt ilit I position. I flammed up like a 'liappist When the lime c.une. 1 was too busy adjusting the knot of my art noiiveau tie and piesentmg my side with the lom.umng unehipped teeth (mementoes of li-is tongue tied occasions) to the phologiaphei to spell out the quips for the good lady doing I he interviewing An opportunity to redeem myself, at least, as the North's own Noel "Coward came but a week this day 1 was to address five million viewers in the North and Midlands on the theory and practice of marriage Heady with the wine of imminent popular recognition, 1 hastened to the Oxford Dictionary of Quotes for a suitably witty barrage of quip and jest With all "the abridged resources of Oscar, "(IK," Max, and Mencken at my lingeitips, 1 shly polished up a suitable ad lib of memorabilia, slipped down mv Hamon Navairo sideburns, and oiled my best vvangbee cane Anointed thus in body and spun, 1 hastened to the studio "where, painted and lacquered like a pi 'ce of rare Chinese Chippendale, 1 and a sociological fellow guest sat like Lot'.s missus while my own wife and another female pel son i culed what I can only assume was Molly P.Ioom's '27 00(1 woid monologue, wliuh ends Joyce's Ulysses- and also appeared to put an end to my Odvssev into the world of the raconteur. The following day, as I slunk into the Elephant and Hallucination's snug, shamefaced at my lack of articulate wit befoie the camera's hungry eye, recognition met me on all sides "Who was that lady I saw you with last night?" a barmaid asked "That was no lady," I mumbled, " that was my stnfe." " Well," someone said, " 1 like': your flowered tie." "Yes," 1 grumolcd, "I find a quick runover with the watering can always brings out its best " " Oh." a woman said " You said that last night, didn't you ? " " Madam," 1 said, " I was .screened but not beard " " Well," the publican said, " You got paid for it am way " " Yes,' 1 countered. "That was the trouble, I knew nothing I could possibly say could be worth that much money Thus conscience doesn't make Noel Cowards of us all " " Well, vou did sav that " the woman said " Madam," J said " In any discussion of marriage, one picture of two men unable to get a word in between the incessant cascade of two cataracts of femininity is bound to be worth a thousand words." " I could," a woman said, " have sworn you said something like that." "Not a svllable, madam, I assure, did 1 utter. Mute, I was, albeit glorious." " Well." she said, " You looked like you said it." Suddenly the dawn struck. After a year of TV panel punditry and polemics the audience, it seems, now takes the words for granted, and you only need to look like the incomparable Max or the puckish Muggeridge to make your mark. Could there have ever been any ortier logical conclusion to the Hero of the Instant Image ? So relax all you toilers in the video vineyards of BBC-3, TW-3, Three After Six, "One )ver The Eight, and what have you All vou have to do is sit cool, hip, and mostly quiet : a grateful public, sated with bons mots, quotes, and instant opinion, will love you for it and fill in the blanks for themselves. Ezra Pound 80 The Cantos (1-109) so Section: Rock Drill (85-95) ins Thrones (96-109) Hi Personae: Collected Shorter Poems 25s Selected Poems Introduction by T. & Eliot 15s ABC of Reading e m The Letters of Ezra Pound Edited by D. D. Pstgs 39t Literary Essays of Ezra Pound Introduction by T. S. Eliot 30t The Translations of Ezra Pound Introduction by Hugh Kenner 42 Ezra Pound's "Mauberley" By J. J. Eapty 21 The Confucian Odes of Ezra Pound By L S. Dembo 2Si Ezra Pound and "Sextus Propertius" By J. P. Sullivan 35s Ezra Pound's Kensington By Patricia Hutchlns 30. FABER AND FABER Outstanding Books on Ezra Pound Ezra Pound Poet as Sculptor DONALD DAVIE "Perhaps tht greatest single con. tribution to Poundian studio in Protestor Davie's richly complex and icbolirly book is hii insistence well backed by exegesie-on Pound's tespecc for objectivity of phenomena, Hhich distinguishes him sharply from post-symbolists like Yeats and Eliot." Times Literary Supplement. 33ft. Sailing after Knowledge The Cantos oi Ezra Pound GEORGE DEKKER An illuminating study which makes the best of his poetry generally accessible. " An extremely sane,- measured end sympathetic appraisal." Times Literary Supplement. 30s, Routledge & Kcgan Paul

Get access to

  • The largest online newspaper archive
  • 19,500+ newspapers from the 1700s–2000s
  • Millions of additional pages added every month

Publisher Extra Newspapers

  • Exclusive licensed content from premium publishers like the The Guardian
  • Archives through last month
  • Continually updated

Try it free