Tuesday, 22 September 2015

Brian Sewell: Different Times, Different Times...

The journalist Tanya Gold describes realising, in 1999, that she was an alcoholic when she tried to jump Sewell. “I looked across the office,” she wrote, “and saw the art critic, sitting at his desk. I decided to ‘take’ Brian. I lunged, straddled him – and the newsroom gaped. As I was peeled off, a pale Sewell said, ‘If I was ever unsure I’m a homosexual, I’m not now.’”

The funny thing about that story is that it sounds, now, like just about the most improbable thing that could ever happen in an office, but at the time, it seemed no more than 10% out of the ordinary. He certainly wasn’t ruffled – he was always pale – and she was by no means the drunkest person in the office. It was a very different time, for newspapers, when transgressions were deliberate and admired, and kudos was all about effortlessness: expertise imbibed in subtle, imperceptible ways, articles knocked out in 20 minutes, bitchiness executed with total nonchalance but never vulgarity.

Sewell wasn’t the only one capable of that but he was, much like his accent, in a class of his own. Knowing that made him generous even while he pretended, with all the might of his typewriter, to be a bastard.

From a touching tribute, The Day Brian Sewell Picked A Fight With Princess Diana, by Zoe Williams in The Guardian.

PS Here's some of her writing for the Evening Standard.

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