Book Review from the October 2013 issue of the Socialist Standard
Bitter Experience Has Taught Me. By Nicholas Lezard, Faber and Faber, 2013. £9.99.
Lezard is a Guardian book reviewer and critic, with a column in the New Statesman called ‘Down And Out in London’. This book has been adapted from that column and is a self-deprecating and amusing account of his life after being kicked out of the family home by Mrs Lezard for a wide variety of inadequacies and misdemeanours. In near financial ruin, he shares a dilapidated house near Baker Street called ‘The Hovel’ with his friend Razors and the focus of this book is his struggle to maintain his head above water while also maintaining his daily wine habit (Lezard is an erstwhile companion of Jeffrey Bernard).
Originally from a relatively privileged background, Lezard is a left-wing, professional cynic who also thinks nothing of inviting police attention by playing midnight cricket – after a few glasses and with real cricket balls – on the chi-chi streets of Marylebone. The contradictions are often what make the humour here, and Lezard is an engaging writer.
He claims to have often annoyed his right–wing father (who at an earlier time of life had been rather bizarrely awarded the Order of Lenin, Fifth Class) with his forthright, radical politics. Interestingly, on one occasion this involved young Nick ‘urging everyone to vote for the Socialist Party of Great Britain’ during a mock election at school, with himself as the candidate. Inexplicably, he seems to have done worse than we normally do, and we can only hope that this psychological trauma didn’t influence his subsequent life path too much.