Correspondence

The European Waugh

Ten years after his death, Auberon Waugh still makes me laugh out loud.  Here, for example, from the Spectator of June 1985, are his thoughts on British prostitutes:

British prostitutes have the reputation for being not only the ugliest and greediest but also the laziest in the world.  Few even pretend to enjoy the job, they make no secret of despising their customers and being in it only for the money.

Not everyone is amused by that sort of thing, and I daresay some will find it flippant.  Auberon Waugh—Bron to his friends and enemies—inspired as much hate and contempt as he did love and admiration.  Much the same was true of his father, the novelist Evelyn, but in real life the two men were very different, as those who knew them both will attest.  According to the Earl of Onslow, Bron Waugh’s brother-in-law, “the difference between Auberon and Evelyn was that Auberon was a nice man and Evelyn was a sh-t.”  When Waugh fils died, on January 16, 2001, at the relatively youthful age of 61, he got some very good notices, and some not so good.  Polly Toynbee, president of the British Humanist Association, honorary associate of the National Secular Society, and granddaughter of the historian Arnold J. Toynbee, wrote a merciless op-ed in the Guardian.  The illustration accompanying the piece showed Waugh being flushed down a lavatory...

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