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I have always continued to write


My wife Margaret
Brian Aldiss Writer
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She [Margaret] said to me, you know, I'm tired of having to get into a car whenever I go shopping. Quite understandable. And she said, and I'm tired of doing this garden. Yes, okay, I understand. Well, let's go and live in Oxford.

And so, I then found she was going to someone at the JR [John Radcliffe], consulting someone about her eyes. So we were in rather a hurry to find somewhere to live, and this house was coming up, and so I bought this house. And it was very scruffy, and I had in a very good company of builders, who now build only for the university, they've gone up in the world – deservedly.

And what they did was, they pulled out every inch of old wiring, every inch of it was pulled out through the front door, and every inch of rotten old piping was pulled out and thrown out the front door. And new cables and new piping were reinstated. And all this time Margaret was becoming more ill, more unwell, and was very gallant about the great upheaval. But nevertheless, it was done – oh, and this room was built on, of course, this room didn't exist. And it's become the room in which I chiefly live. So.

But Margaret became more and more ill, and eventually she went into Sobell House. I would go and see her every evening. I cannot tell you... I cannot tell you. I knew she was going to die, and I said farewell to her and went out into the car, and could not stop crying. And it was a night of terrible storm, rainstorm, lightening. And there I was going to lose my wife. And indeed, I did, and I was very shattered, despite the difficulties that we had had all along. And she was buried in the cemetery down the road, and every day I would go and see her and stand by the grave.

But then, there came the time when I decided I ought to sort out her clothing drawers. And in her clothing drawer I found, wrapped in blue tissue paper, something almost as large as a novel, in manuscript... her objections to me, her finding fault with me that she had carefully preserved every one of these objections. Now, meanwhile, I had written my book about Margaret, which is called When the Feast is Finished. It was serialised in the Daily Mail… and then I found this, waiting for me there, like a man-trap.

I didn't go to her grave anymore.

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: When the Feast is Finished

Duration: 5 minutes, 4 seconds

Date story recorded: September 2014

Date story went live: 17 August 2015