Cold Cream: My Early Life and Other Mistakes

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Bloomsbury, 2008 - Journalists - 368 pages
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A pitch-perfect memoir, brilliantly funny, wise and moving, of family, friends and political life over the last sixty years. Ferdinand Mount's parents belonged to what came to be called 'Hobohemia', 'a raffish subdivision of the upper class which, like some rare blue butterfly, was to be found only on the Wiltshire Downs'. His uncle was Anthony Powell, and this sparkling memoir has irresistible echoes of A Dance to the Music of Time. It is thronged with characters and anecdotes of every shade and hue, from cucumber sandwiches with Siegfried Sassoon, and Harold Acton in Florence having his aesthetic flourishes swatted by his outspoken mother, through his schooldays, where he was taught German by a dynamic young teacher called David Cornwell, soon to become known as John le Carre, to the rampages of the spy Donald Maclean in the old Gargoyle Club; from peculiar boating trips with Peter Fleming and Sir Oswald Mosley, to discovering a fourteen-year-old Miriam Margolyes, 'an opulent tumble of dark curls and puppy fat', reclining on his landlady's hearthrug, hoping to pose for Augustus John. After an erratic start in the lower depths of Fleet Street, to his own surprise he becomes an adviser and speechwriter for Margaret Thatcher during the early 1980s, and offers us an unrivalled, intimate account of life inside Number 10 during those years. Among the beautifully turned recollections is sadness too: the loss of his grandfather, termed 'one of the Paladins of Gallipoli' by Churchill, and the unbearable slow and lonely death of his mother. Cold Cream is a portrait of a generation as well as a pitch-perfect anthology of experience, where every sentence is a joy to read.

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I have no idea who this person is, but his life story sounds fascinating and the reviews are effusive. Read full review

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About the author (2008)

Ferdinand Mount was born in 1939, the son of a steeplechase jockey, and brought up on Salisbury Plain. After being educated at Eton and Oxford, he made various false starts as a children's nanny, a gossip columnist, bagman to Selwyn Lloyd, and leader-writer on the doomed Daily Sketch. He later surfaced as head of Margaret Thatcher's Policy Unit and later editor of the Times Literary Supplement. He is married with three children and two grandchildren and has lived in Islington for half his life.

Apart from political columns and essays, he has written a six-volume series of novels, A Chronicle of Modern Twilight, which began with The Man Who Rode Ampersand, based on his father's racing life, and included Of Love and Asthma(he is a temporarily retired asthmatic), which won the Hawthornden Prize for 1992. He also writes what he calls 'Tales of History and Imagination', including Umbrella, which the historian Niall Ferguson called 'quite simply the best historical novel in years'.

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