A Long Lunch, by Simon Hoggart, John Murray, RRP£9.99, 320 pages
From his apprenticeship on the Manchester Guardian in the 1960s, Simon Hoggart’s four decades as a journalist have taken in serious reportage from the US and Northern Ireland, and lighter touches writing political sketches and chairing the BBC Radio 4’s satirical News Quiz. A Long Lunch features a rich mix of anecdotes that incidentally offer a memoir of sorts but mostly entertain for their own tart value.
WH Auden’s heroic approach to dry martinis; breakfast repartee about erections with Sir John Major; stubbing out a cigarette in Mia Farrow’s hair: Hoggart delivers his celebrity encounters with a comedian’s timing and charming self-deprecation.
The author’s sketch-writing background helps shape these broad and varied recollections into succinct, mellifluous dispatches that amuse and provoke by turns. A good ear for absurdity and a journalist’s instinct for pace give this collection a jaunty engagement that keeps the pages turning.