Against the Stream 30.7.81. Maggie Jones began in the BBC as a copy-typist; now, producer of Talking Heads, she convokes celebrities by their first names. When, under her aegis, I was on the air with Denis (Healey) and Malcolm (Muggeridge), she told me that she and her ‘feller’ were going to be in the Dordogne during the summer, in a cottage close to Lagardelle. She called on Sunday and proposed coming for an early evening drink with Gerry Davis, an Old Carthusian, and his twenty-one-year-old son, Danny. Davis drove an off-white Cortina of the kind that companies allot to employees who can take it or leave. Shortish and muscular, in a red Adidas shirt, he was at Cambridge between 1950 and 1953, but remembered me from school; moi non plus. He rowed at Cambridge and swam at Charterhouse. Since they had been doing building work all afternoon, I was prompt to offer them the pool. Gerry said he preferred to get to know me first. ‘Ambitious programme,’ I said.
Maggie was carefully edited: hair low and regular, teeth white, orangey-red dress over a bathing suit she never revealed. Danny wore bovver boots, shapeless grey-brown trousers, khaki shirt he lowered, apprehensively, over his sun-scorched back; cropped head, putty face with jutting, colourless lips, boxer’s malleable nose. Neither Maggie nor his father addressed anything to him. Davis was a Bodeite; he said that he once shared a study with Brian Glanville.* Maggie gave an unassuming account of her career and interests: hot-air ballooning is her gas-filled bag. Danny said he was a mechanic and jazz guitarist. He took one of the bronze knights from Michael Ayrton’s chess set and examined it with such close appreciation that I suspected he might pocket it.
Davis is a solicitor for Readicrete, one of a team of five resident lawyers at their Hindhead offices. He had towed one of their electric cement mixers down to the Périgord in order to add a car-port to his cottage. Danny went to test the pool, but returned dry; its kidney form inhibited him from doing lengths, so he chose not to take the plunge. He drank beers (posting his cigarette stub in an empty) and told Beetle, ‘Bring the matches,’ when we moved from the patio to the house. She did not hear him, she told me, or she would not have done so.
* Brian Glanville has no memory of sharing a study with him.