Kenneth Toomey 48

On the day of Great Britain’s signing of a defence agreement with Turkey I was sitting in my salon in E2, Albany, studying the studio portrait that Hirsch had done of me. Careful underlighting and airbrushwork made me look younger than I was. When I faced the shaving mirror each morning I saw a man of undoubted forty-eight years, uneasy, unloved except by his readers, weary, tinted by good living, chin sagging, hair greying and thinning but superbly sculpted by my regular operative at Trumper’s of Mayfair. The creature in the photograph was your popular novelist, unlined and with youth’s dreaming eyes but wise with a hardbought wisdom: a man you could trust, but not too much, travelled, of sure taste in the arts, not terrifyingly over-intellectual but wellread and sufficiently clever, sharp or compassionate as occasion required when giving in the mass press his views on modern woman, the intentions of the dictators, friendship, the importance of Faith, the status of William Somerset Maugham, the decadence of the French, the beauties of rural England. The portrait would serve perhaps for another year in the promotion of my books.