18 NOVEMBER 2000, Page 53

Rupert Christiansen

Both the best and the worst was Gavin Lambert's Mainly about Lindsay Anderson (Faber, £18.99), a self-congratulatory, gar- rulous ramble through Lambert's own life that also contains a sharp and touching portrait of one of the few great British film directors. Although Lindsay Anderson may have been cantankerous to the point of misanthropy, he was a man who command- ed enormous affection and loyalty. Lam- bert knew him well, and paints a moving, warts-and-all portrait of his tragic decline: if only Lambert had kept his own tedious reminiscences out of it. I hugely enjoyed Penelope Hughes Hal- lett's The Immortal Dinner (Viking, £15.99), a charming and scholarly fantasy on the theme of a soiree given by Benjamin Hay- don, and John Drummond's sharp- tongued, spot-on memoir Tainted by Experience (Faber, £25). I make no apology for mentioning my friend Giles Water- field's beautiful little novel about his grandparents' life and death on the Riv- iera, The Long Afternoon (Headline, £14.99): it has not had the recognition it deserves.