We were saddened to hear of the death of Beryl Bainbridge last week. In November 2008, Formby-born Beryl was a guest speaker at our Readers’ Day in Liverpool Central Library. It was fantastic to hear her talk at length about her distinguished career and her literary output.
Beryl could be incredibly funny as this extract from a column she wrote years ago about her writing day bears out:
When I’m rushing towards the end of a novel, like I am now, I get up at 5am. I wander around the house for a bit; if I know I’ll have to go out during the day, I’ll wash my hair and half get half-dressed, so I’m half way there. Then I go upstairs to my laboratory, which is knee deep in ash, and write on a huge VTR 2000 computer. It’s so old that its prototype is in the Science Museum. I write until about 8.30am, then I print out what I’ve done and run round in circles wailing because it’s so rubbish. Then I go downstairs and have a fried-egg sandwich and a cup of very strong two-bag tea. By this time I’ve smoked about 12 cigarettes and feel absolutely terrible. Then I’ll go to work again. At 12, I take off my dressing gown, put on a long mac, and go to the newsagent’s to get more cigarettes and a bottle of still water to make me healthy. And then I write again until about 5pm, when I come downstairs and put on some sprouts – I read somewhere that they’re good for you. I lie down on the sofa with my sprouts on my chest and watch Neighbours and moan inside: “I’m never going to do this book, its rubbish.” In between soaps I’ll ring my children and grandchildren. They ask me how I am and I say “terrible”, and they say, “You’re very naughty, and that’s final.”
Then I’ll decide that I’ve got to go to bed early, so I can get up at 5am. I drop off instantly, but then wake up at 11pm, which is horrific. So I get up, and try to write again… I look at what I’ve written and it doesn’t make any sense, and so then I’ll put on the TV and watch a film. Last night the film finished at 3.45am. And then I’ll go to bed, and get up at 5am.
The Reader Recommends: The Bottle Factory Outing.