Saturday, June 23, 2007

Auberon Waugh on Robert Maxwell

I have a habit these days of taking classic novels on holiday, starting them and then abandoning them in favour of lighter works picked up in a secondhand bookshops.

This time I took Howard's End by E. M. Forster with me, though of course I read David Boyle's Leaves the World to Darkness on the journey to Norfolk.

Then I picked up a collection of Auberon Waugh's Way of the World pieces from the Daily Telegraph. They are too gamy to be read in such bulk, but I did like Waugh's observations after the death of Robert Maxwell:

I do not understand why he was ever considered a good businessman. His saintly wife, Elizabeth, whom he married in 1945, brought with her a dowry of £150,000, say £2,400,000 at today's values ...

In a lifetime of business activity he managed to convert this modest fortune of £2,400,000 into a debt of $2 billion. Is this the sign of a good businessman?

When I ask why the beautiful and blameless Elizabeth stayed with such a ruffian for so long, my ever-practical wife suggests that she was hoping to get her money back.

1 comment:

David said...

Very flat, Norfolk.