Old Letch


Old Letch


Second hand, slightly foxed. 
Published by Faber & Faber, 1959.

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'What's he like, this Letchford? Face: like a passport photograph; lank, drawn, hang-dog, stamped all over "wanted" – yet not one to frighten little children; even likeable in a sad, hunted way. Sallow-complexioned, fat-nosed, blue-eyed. Trouble with spots. Sallow-coloured eyebrows, fading into invisibility. Head: fore-and-aft shape, covered with shredded dun-coloured hair, more of it than required. Body: a long, exaggerated greenstick fracture, nothing else; joints so ill-fitting and under-lubricated that they squeak with crepitus as he twigs along. Voice: scratchy, certainly frightening to little children. Mind: dense screens of overlapping sex-mirages, but behind them a feeling for humanity. Ambition: getting on the stage. Club: Espresso.'

He's also quite outrageous and quite unforgettable – a comic creation on the grand scale. Though he never achieves his ambition, he does get involved in what are probably the oddest political goings-on ever recorded; and in the maddest election scene in literature. And he gets involved, in the process, with a very rum Soho lot indeed – Ermie, Sherry, Loveapple, Tusker, Hymie, the delectable Jo Anna and the ever faithful Typewriter and Kettle.

A taste of the critics

'An extravagantly funny novel about Soho and its inhabitants.'

Kenneth Allsop, Daily Mail

'For those who can take practically anything as long as it it unexpected… a delight.'

Daniel George, The Bookman

'This is definitely the book to redeem a dull weekend.'

Auckland Star