My Stories

Writing a memoir goes against the grain of a novelist. The thrill of putting pen to paper (metaphorically speaking) is the creating of something entirely new, introducing into the world people who didn’t exist until you gave them life. By comparison, rehashing old memories is a dull activity – except perhaps for the very self-centred. The only way to make it bearable, I decided, was to turn the memories into stories, if possible catching hold of enough facts to haul them back before they float off into fiction. But even then, I became bored. In the middle of describing my time in 1970s’ Hollywood, I find a character emerging from the palm trees who is not Kevin (my husband / director), nor Stirling Silliphant (producer), nor Anthony Quinn (potential actor), but an unknown male, thrusting his way onto the stage, commanded there by my unruly imagination. London and New York a few years earlier, are also peopled by interlopers, drunk associates, small millionaires who drive Rolls Royce and invite me to their water-beds. Seeing the way things are going, I have evolved a coping strategy: I am putting down the true facts of my life (more or less) interspersed with true fiction from my imagination. At the moment it seems to sort the problem. We will see.

The serious little girl (pictured), is me in 1958, drawn by Bloomsbury artist Henry Lamb. He married my aunt Pansy, and drew all eight of us children when we were five or six years old. I can remember feeling personally responsible for the outcome, and annoyed he had made my plait so skimpy.