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This article is taken from PN Review 9, Volume 6 Number 1, September - October 1979.

on Edgell Rickword Arnold Rattenbury

As boss, the capacity in which I first knew him, Edgell left something to be desired. Our desks were in the same small office at Our Time and we got on pleasantly enough, but it wasn't easy, for instance, to get my wages jacked up to £5 a week. Unanswered questions drifted in air like the bar-room smoke of those days: his short, mine trailing more. Arriving late one morning from a night in Vine Street Police Station and explaining matters in some embarrassment, I merely received his usual sweet smile and the suggestion, `D and D?'- a phrase which innocence didn't know and he had perforce to explain. Whole weeks later, in the pub to which we moved most middays and always after work, he asked if Vine Street had changed much since his own presumably distant drunk and disorderly nights.

I see now, of course, that a fine, wise poet was saddled with a longwinded, ignorant youth. I also see that he did a stupid question the same cautious honour as a wise one, harking all round its possible supplementaries before answering. This was for everyone, even for visitors a response to whom I had thought already agreed, to the point that I often left for the outer office in despair of any answer ever coming-there to complain at secretary or accountant or dapper old Charlie from the Daily Worker and his wrestler friend, packing great bundles of Our Time to dump on newsagents. Sometimes, ...


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