Arts Council grants
Sir: It is wrong of Auberon Waugh to blame Charles Osborne for all the actions of the Arts Council in the field of literature. In many ways he is only the servant of the Literature Panel which decides policy and the Literature Finance Subcommittee which recommends how the money should be spent. Nor are these committees made up of .'homosexualists and back-scratchers'. I am a member of both, and like my friend Auberon Waugh, I am a Benedictineeducated, Roman Catholic novelist living the life of a country gentleman in the bosom of my family. The only back I would like to scratch is his, but alas he never proffers it— and so writes no more novels.
It was Parliament which decided that the arts should be patronised by the state. In retrospect this may turn out to have been a naive decision: in the meantime it should be said that Literature receives less than the other arts and, so far as I know, is the only department where the artist patronised has to show that he needs the money. It is easy to say that Bananas, the New Review, etc do not deserve subsidy, but difficult to say how the money would be better spent. Particularly after the abandonment of Public Lending Right, I would rather see some of my taxes cast haphazardly among men of letters than have them swallowed whole by complacent civil servants and bankrupt businessmen.
Piers Paul Read Old Byland Hall, Helmsley, York