1 FEBRUARY 1963, Page 6


Because Tony Hartley is on the staff of the Spectator, his book, A State of England (Hutch- inson, 25s.) won't be reviewed in it. But the Editor will at least allow me to say how pleased his friends are to see the controversial attention which it is receiving elsewhere. Hartley is a serious man from whose stern lips bullets of wit fly in disconcerting bursts. A former colleague of his once called them Hartleberries and swore that he would publish a collection in due course. I look forward to that. His simpler sallies are also enjoyable. When I met him in the theatre during the interval of some glum play about homosexuality (a dramatisation of L'Inunoraliste or something of the sort), he called cheerfully up the crowded aisle : 'How unlike the private life of our own dear queens!' And once I saw an eminent writer at a party, finding his small talk answered by small arms fire, so terrified by the experience that he picked up his hat and ran for it, while Hartley looked after him with a (fac- titious?) astonishment that delighted everyone.