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29 September, 2006

Michael Frayn

I like Michael Frayn.

I’ve liked him for about 40 years now ever since, at the age of 11 or 12, I took his novel ‘The Tin Men’ to bed and read it cover-to-cover in a single sitting, under the blankets, with a torch. I had never laughed out loud so much reading a book before and (apart from when I read the scripts of ‘Fawlty Towers’) have not since.

There are some writers who never disappoint – L. P. Hartley, Aldous Huxley, Jane Austen, Shakespeare, J. D. Salinger, Edna O’Brien, and the like – and Michael Frayn has a secure place in this pantheon of my all-time favourites. From that first, memorable experience as a young boy, to my more recent and more sober enjoyment of his outstanding novel ‘Spies’, I have loved everything he has done.

So it was with trepidation that I read an interview with him in this week’s 'New Scientist'. After all, sometimes the people one admires so much turn out to have feet of clay when you read their uncrafted and unrefined outpourings in a magazine interview. But I need not have worried. He came across as intelligent, thoughtful and reasonable – all the qualities that go to make a decent human being. In fact, he came across as a nice bloke – someone you’d like to have ‘round for dinner and a chat – someone who wouldn’t try to get the subject back to sport or politics if questions about the nature of the Universe came up.

It pleased me extraordinarily that this was so. In fact, it inspired me to re-read ‘The Tin Men’. And I definitely want to read his new (non fiction) book ‘The Human Touch: Our Part in the Creation of a Universe’.

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