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How I came by a Hermes typewriter

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Forced to move into digs
Brian Aldiss Writer
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The economic fact of the situation [marital separation] was I had to sell up this house in Victoria Road and give it to Olive for her to buy a house down in Totland Bay, Isle of Wight.

So, I was homeless. I was 40, I was homeless. After all that time in the Far East, there I was – stuck. But I knew... I knew various chaps around, who were kind of… not exactly menial, but they had odd jobs, and one of them was a big man... I've forgotten his name, unfortunately... who had recently married a woman who lived in the extremes of North Oxford, and who was no less than the daughter of Edgar Wallace.

She was broke too, but at least she was living in the house, and he inspected peoples' gas meters. I'm sorry I can't remember his name because he was very nice, and he and I used to meet in a cheap Indian restaurant quite often and have conversations together. And so I went to him, and I knew he had various rooms for rent, and so he rented me a house in Paradise Square.

Now, Paradise Square I think has possibly vanished now, or turned into a car park or one of these fates that befalls squares of an impoverished Victorian nature. But, anyhow, he rented me a room with a window looking onto the square, and there I lived and I had a bed in there, just that one room.

And every now and then, I would go down and see my children.

Brian Aldiss (1925-2017) was an English writer and anthologies editor, best known for his science fiction novels and short stories. He was educated at Framlingham College, Suffolk, and West Buckland School, Devon, and served in the Royal Signals between 1943-1947. After leaving the army, Aldiss worked as a bookseller in Oxford, an experience which provided the setting for his first book, 'The Brightfount Diaries' (1955). His first science fiction novel, 'Non-Stop', was published in 1958 while he was working as literary editor of the 'Oxford Mail'. His many prize-winning science fiction titles include 'Hothouse' (1962), which won the Hugo Award, 'The Saliva Tree' (1966), which was awarded the Nebula, and 'Helliconia Spring' (1982), which won both the British Science Fiction Association Award and the John W Campbell Memorial Award. Several of his books have been adapted for the cinema. His story, 'Supertoys Last All Summer Long', was adapted and released as the film 'AI' in 2001. His book 'Jocasta' (2005), is a reworking of Sophocles' classic Theban plays, 'Oedipus Rex' and 'Antigone'.

Listeners: Christopher Sykes

Christopher Sykes is an independent documentary producer who has made a number of films about science and scientists for BBC TV, Channel Four, and PBS.

Tags: house, room, rent

Duration: 2 minutes, 51 seconds

Date story recorded: September 2014

Date story went live: 17 August 2015