The lights of Soho brightened the night in London, during the Literary Festival.
It was my first holiday time in London and I thought I couldn’t find a better way to enjoy it than getting in the Soho theatre to listen to a guy whom I’d never heard of, who talked about a book which I had no idea what it was about.
Next time, please someone reminds me that there are pubs and nightclubs there around. For the sake of my young age.
Downstairs Soho Theatre was a cosy room, with a bar at one side, the stage on another and seats all over the place.
As soon as Charlie Mortimer stepped onto the stage, I started to feel I bit uncomfortable and to long for a beer, but it was too late for that. The lights were going off and I was sitting in the middle of a crowded room – no way I could reach the bar without knocking someone down.
Surprisingly, I had fun. Well, Charlie isn’t really a stage-person, if he’d excuse my humble opinion. Anyway, the words he was reading were simply brilliant, even for someone like me, who had no idea of what was going on. I enjoyed it even out of context.
It was a whole hour of him reading extracts of the book ‘Dear Lupin: letters to a wayward son’. Basically, a long history of letters that his late father wrote to him all along during thirty years, before dying in 1991.
Now you may ask: why dear Lupin, if the son’s name is actually Charlie?
Well, I’ll let Roger an Charlie explain this:
23 May 1967
Roger Mortimer: “I think in future I shall call you ‘Lupin’ after Mr Pooter’s son in ‘Diary of a Nobody’.
Charlie Mortimer: “And so I take on the name of Lupin, the disreputable son who was the source of much of Mr Pooter’s worries.”
Apparently, Roger Mortimer thought about himself as “a patiently enduring and thoroughly respectable middle-class gentleman” while Charlie was more like a “disreputable son […] who was always getting into frightful scrapes.” (Preface – A Tribute to Mr Pooter, Charlie Mortimer)
I’ll say, I was perplexed about this book at the beginning. Then I figured, how could I possibly not enjoy a book of letters from father to son, where the father has such a disarming opinion of him and covers with deprecating humor his every attempt – most of the times unsuccessful – to start a new ever more unlikely career in whatsoever?
New to the English environmen as I was, I knew that it was much of an hazard. A lot of things were quite obscure to me and probably I wouldn’t be able to get half of the clever jokes Roger Mortimer shot to his son.
I just couldn’t resist.
The lights turned on again, the audience stood up and the show was done. Charlie Mortimer got off the stage and disappeared from my sight, lost in the crowd.
I could only follow my need to possess that book, so I climbed the stairs and entered the foyer.
I bought the book right next to a long line of people, who waited holding Charlie’s book in their hands.
At the head of the line, sat at a little desk, Charlie Mortimer was signing all those books.
I stepped forward and got in line.
As you all now, when you are going to meet an author at a signing session, there’s always this urge to say something smart. Not because we want to impress the guy, but simply because at least we don’t want to look like some stupid girl (or boy) who whispers embarassed her (his) name, just before running away in excitement.
Long story short, it ended up with me telling my name, then telling it again, then spelling it and finally having it miswritten on the dedication. I hate my name, once more.
Anyway, this is not the most remarkable thing about the dedication.
Charlie Mortimer took my book, opened it at the title page and barred his own name, before signing it, so that the title page now looks pretty much like this:
Charlieand Roger Mortimer
All the best
I like to think that this is the ultimate letter to a father, from his wayward son Lupin.
If you want to know more about this book: Goodreads
If you want to buy this book: Amazon