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Stymied by a semicolon


A Cambridge scholar in-waiting
Frederic Raphael Writer
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And I was very lucky because the question was: what would I do between December and the following October? My father had been moved sideways in Shell, in fact he had been demoted, but his job was, as I think I mentioned, running press relations, so he knew a lot of people in Fleet Street. And I said to him, can you get me a job in Fleet Street? Or at least can you get me something to do in Fleet Street?

And actually he was very good to me, my father. He was not effusive, and he was not particularly affectionate, I mean I embrace my children, I still embrace my grown children, and they embrace me, and that's what we do, but we didn't... he and I didn't do that. And my mother strangely, I was thinking the other day, I do not ever remember my mother who was very nice to me, took me to museums and various other things, I don't remember her ever putting her arms around me. And oddly enough, I actually was never once put to her breast because as soon as I was born after a caesarean section, in those days mothers didn't feed their babies and I was immediately given the bottle. Whether this marked me for life or is of no importance whatever, or both, I don't know. It's just a fact.  What the Frogs call une constatation. They would.

Anyway my father introduced me to a man called Alan Brockbank, who'd been a Royal Naval Volunteer Reserve sailor during the war, who worked on the Sunday Express. And Brockie said, well I don't mind, Freddy can come and you know... be my runner. Incredibly nice of him. Anyway, he said that. But he said, he'll have to go and see the news editor first and you know, get clearance. He said, of course he can't have a job, because the National Union of Journalists won't allow people from outside to come in and have jobs, but we can fix all that. Just get him in. I didn't care anyway of course, I wanted a few bob, because I wanted to take girls out, but I didn't... the thing was to do something and I thought I was a pretty hotshot, as you have gathered, from my prowess at Cambridge. Yes, I mean, the great thing about getting a Major scholarship at Cambridge – I know almost anyone could do it – but the great thing about it is, I have to say, it cleanses you of all further ambitions for rewards for the rest of your life. I don't mean I would refuse the Nobel Prize or that I would mind terribly if I were given this or that prize, but to tell you the truth, nobody can take my scholarship away from me. And you haven't got one have you? So what are you going to do about that? Not nice, but that's how it is. So anyway, I was pretty full of myself, but also I was okay, I was quite a good looking young man, lots of hair and everything.

Born in America in 1931, Frederic Raphael is a writer who moved to England as a boy. He was educated at Charterhouse School and was a Major Scholar in Classics at St John's College, Cambridge. His articles and book reviews appear in a number of newspapers and magazines, including the Los Angeles Times and The Sunday Times. He has published more than twenty novels, the best-known being the semi-autobiographical The Glittering Prizes (1976). In 1965 Raphael won an Oscar for the screenplay for the movie Darling, and two years later received an Oscar nomination for his screenplay for Two for the Road. In 1999, he published Eyes Wide Open, a memoir of his collaboration with the director Stanley Kubrick on the screenplay of Eyes Wide Shut, Kubrick's final movie. Raphael lives in France and England and became a Fellow of the Royal Society of Literature in 1964.

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: Fleet Stree, Alan Brockbank

Duration: 2 minutes, 3 seconds

Date story recorded: March 2014

Date story went live: 13 August 2014