Saturday, 25 February 2017

Rediscovering Bonfig

An apology (I seem to have been apologising a lot on this blog): I was busy on the early postings (2013, would you believe?) uploading photographs that had mysteriously disappeared (see below). I surprised myself by succeeding. 

On this post, unfortunately, not only did I bring the photo to life once again, but the post itself time-travelled four years into the future and reappeared as today's post.

I hope it hasn't confused too many people.

I also managed, after all these years, to change my Location in the panel on the right from USA to UK. I have not been able to change from Pacific Standard Time to Greenwich Mean Time. Will this mean I'll lose my American readers/viewers/visitors? I hope not; they have boosted my pageview numbers recently to what for me were gigantic proportions. It was not a deliberate ploy to increase readership - honest!

Another thing, while I'm on about numbers. My pageview numbers took a huge drop on Monday 20th of this month (February). After being consistently around the 300 a day mark, they dropped to under 100 but recovered the next day. Was there a Rip van Winkle effect? Did America go to sleep for most of the day? Did Donald Trump's executive order on immigration apply to alien blogs as well?
 Anyway, because I haven't yet found a way to beam the post back to where it belongs in the past, I'll leave this time-warped piece of history to keep you occupied till tomorrow, when I'll post an article on tai chi chuan which has been my passion for the last almost thirty years.


to my first ever blog - both of you.  Let's hope we have more company soon.

     I shall guess that at least one of you has read and been delighted by the novels of the man of the title, my late friend and former colleague, Kyril Emmanuel Georg Karl Bonfiglioli - novelist, wit and knife-thrower.  The other of you, whether curious or just lost in the labyrinth of the internet, can prepare to be enlightened.   I hope you'll both be amused and entertained.

     Because my memories of Bonfig (for whom the phrase "colourful character" might have been invented) are too worthy of a good telling to be condensed into one post, too rich a banquet to be savoured at a sitting, I shall serve them up as weekly dishes.  Your comments can provide the seasoning of your choice.

     If you've read his books, I dare to hope that you may find a faint echo of his writing style in mine.  There, I've admitted my presumptuous ambition.  I shall now be at the mercy of every Bonfiglioli aficionado, literary troll and online heckler.

     When I first googled his extraordinary name upon a whim and a startled keyboard, I expected to find no more than half a dozen entries, maybe a few Amazon special offers on his novels (he'd written three and most of a fourth) and possibly something about his remarkable knowledge of heraldry.

     I did not expect page after page of biography, bibliography and plauditry that approached cult status, with praise from literary lights and entertainment greats (Stephen Fry, Susan Hill, Craig Brown and Miles Kington, to name those I care to remember).  There were pieces glowing with praise from the New Yorker and the Independent, not to mention the TLS.  The various articles and mini-biographies seemed to cover most of his life till he died in 1985.

     Most but not all.  This personal memoir is written to fill that gap.

     Though his Army service in West Africa was listed, there was no mention of his time as an Education Sergeant at the Gordon Highlanders Depot in Aberdeen.  That is where he and I first met in the summer of '54.

     I had the same three stripes, though I was junior to him in every respect.  He taught me knife-throwing, fencing and how to fry peas in Worcester sauce.  In the few months that I knew him, the man had an influence on me which has lasted to this day - to say nothing of bringing my university career to a full stop before it even began.

     Rediscovering Bonfig after he had died only made me want to know more.  I tracked down his second wife Margaret, author of The Mortdecai ABC, an invaluable and insightful volume of Bonfigliana that takes its name from his supposed alter ego and the anti-hero of his novels, the Hon Charlie Mortdecai.  I was delighted to receive an encouraging reply, urging me to go ahead with this bundle of reminiscences.  Her support has even extended to forgiveness for the parody of her title and the flagrant theft of her format.

    Accordingly I call it

The Bonfiglioli ABC  (to be continued)

Kyril Bonfiglioli, Summer 1954