Monday, 20 May 2013

You may call them coincidences

The Bonfiglioli ABC (continued)

It may be a good idea to start with an apology.

The man of the title, Kyril Bonfiglioli, was the subject of the first nine posts of this blog, from 31st March till 20th May 2013.  This is the last of those. You'll need to track back through those posts to read the rest of my memories of his exploits and escapades, the scandalous and scurrilous, the comic and dangerous.

C:  Correlations.   Conclusion.


Knowing more about Bonfigs life after he left Aberdeen, I have been intrigued by certain correlations in our lives, some commonplace, others more unusual, some in which I found a strange comfort.  Only one was neither commonplace nor comforting. 

     Our family homes each took a direct hit from the Luftwaffe; we both survived. Each married a Margaret.  Each fathered two boys in our first marriages.  We both loved words and loved to play with them, though I would hesitate to try to sneak on to his podium.  He taught me to fence with foil and sabre; now I teach Chinese sabre exercises to my students in tai chi chuan.

     Only once in our time together did I see Bonfig in a vulnerable moment.  I suppose the hurt was still fresh in his mind.  He told me his first wife Elizabeth had died in her sleep; he woke to find her dead beside him.  More than once - no, many times more than once - in my 45 years of marriage, I lay quiet in bed, listening for my wifes breathing. 

     Fifty years after Bonfigs Elizabeth died, my first wife Margaret died beside me.


       Kyril Bonfiglioli (29/5/1929 - 3/3/1985)

  Margaret Bonfiglioli's book, The Mortdecai ABC, has rounded out the articles and mini-biographies about Bonfig that I found on Google and Wikipedia.  Most of the conflicting hronology and the misinterpretations have been resolved, though not all.  

     The granite city and the schoolie sergeants get their rightful mention; the barrack square coat-of-arms gets its correct colours and tinctures (I was going to say 'proper' but he would quibble at that); and his theatrical telling of long and dirty jokes links an Aberdeen Sergeants Mess with an Oxford drawing-room.

     Quibble?  Did I say 'quibble'?  Bonfig didn't do 'quibble'.  He'd more likely haunt me, with an ethereal light-sabre in one hand and a pitchfork in the other.

     Clearly, Kyril Bonfigliolis short time in Aberdeen was as colourful and quirky as any of his adventures even some of the fictional - yet to come.  Things happened around him or he made them happen.  This was no quiet backwater of his life.  The preparation for his success, as novelist, humorist and storyteller, had begun.  

     I'm not one for regrets but if I had met him again later in life, I would have been able to fence with him, both physically and verbally, to better effect than I could manage as a 19 yr old.  I still count myself fortunate to have known him.

What am I going to write next?

     I've told all I can about Bonfig and I've received a few kind comments from his family and some people who knew him or love his books. Some well-known figures have admired his work,too, Stephen Fry, Miles Kington, Susan Hill, Craig Brown (not the former manager of Aberdeen FC, the other one) - where are you?
     My 'page view' figures tell me I've had 48 readers in Indonesia today, 16 in Russia and only one in the UK.  Would you trust these statistics?  I shall continue to believe that Stephen Fry et al are holidaying in Indonesia at this moment.


  1. Interesting stories, thank you for posting them. Seeing the photos was also great.
    Best, Chris Bonfiglioli.

  2. Delighted to find a comment here from one of Bonfig's sons.
    It might be appropriate here to add some comments I've had by e mail over the weeks:
    "Enjoyed it enormously. Marvelous!" - Arthur B.
    "...reads effortlessly...flows easily...very interesting." - Margie M.
    "I like your style, Don. Your writing is engaging." - Edna B-P.

  3. Hi Don- the blog is great, and as a huge Bonfig fan the stories you have up your sleeve are exquisite. Would love to chat further. I can be reached at that hotmail place. The .com version. A clever chap like you should be able to figure it out.


  4. dear Mr Wells

    interesting stuff, nice style. I have posted a link to your page on the Wikipedia page for Bonfiglioli. Hope you don't mind, it might bring the readership up, especially if the movie with Johnny Depp actually happens.


  5. Dear Don,

    It has been wonderful reading your reminiscences of Mr Bonfiglioli. I am an avid fan of his work and have been compiling an article about him and his works. I found your blog a great source of biographical info and endearing anecdotes.

    I love your writing style - your choice of words and witticisms are highly enjoyable.

    Thank you.