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

on Edgell Rickword E.P. Thompson

I have never known Edgell Rickword well. But we have had friends in common over the years, and have trudged on together -a few files apart-in the same disorderly contingent of `the Left'. Sometimes we have exchanged a few words.

I saw him most often, I suppose, in a pub near the offices of Our Time in Southampton Street. I would call in, on leave from the army (1942-3), in search of my particular friends, Arnold Rattenbury and (later) Randall Swingler. I doubt whether Edgell often saw me. I was a nineteen-year-old in uniform, like half of the rest of the world, and (on closer acquaintance) an exceedingly callow youth, full of anti-fascist bluster and instant political solutions to every cosmic question. Edgell would be talking to one of the review's contributors, or he would be squinting with intense concentration into the very bottom of his beer glass-a habit of abstraction which offered a defence against the importunities of youth.

After the war I was three years older by biology and some eight or nine years less callow. There was a choppy year or two -1946? 1947?-which I cannot now reconstruct accurately from memory, when I was around Southampton Street once more, before I took off for the North and drifted beyond its view. There was some snarling row going on within the cultural appendices of the Communist Party. In retrospect it can be seen that the shadows of the Cold War were closing in, ...


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