I own two books that used to belong to R’s first wife. The first is Wagner Nights by Ernest Newman: ‘The quintessence of a great Wagnerian’s reading, listening and love’ – The Listener‘. I found it at the secondhand book market on the Spui in Amsterdam, opened it and saw the dedication to her on the title page; I remember looking around, as if to tell someone about this coincidence, or possibly for advice about what to do. I have always mentally translated the author’s name back into German, but recently looked him up and found that Ernest Newman was born William Roberts and adopted his pen name to show he would be ‘a new man in earnest’. The book looked unread at the time, and still does today.
The second book is a copy of Hello I Love You! A Collection of Voices Orchestrated by Jeanne Pasle-Green and Jim Haynes (1975). It too has a dedication to a former spouse, as well as some water damage and it is a poor substitute for my own copy of this book, which was sold to me on the 38 bus in Paris, between the Val de Grâce and Les Ecoles stops on boulevard St Michel, by Jim Haynes himself. Haynes was a figure from the 60s Underground in London, co-founder of Suck magazine and a persuasive salesman, as this is not a long journey. The book was privately published, and at the back it says that if you sent in a self-addressed envelope and international postal coupons, you would receive in return a copy of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights. There follows a slightly plaintive appeal to booksellers to stock it.
I was on my way home from work when he talked me into buying the book, an important part of the sexual revolution, which contains frank interviews with people about their sexual experiences, among them Germaine Greer, Gershon Legman, Xaviera Hollander, Adrian Mitchell and my own favourite, Jefferson Clitlick. I wonder if he is still using this name, all these years after the sexual revolution: according to the book he had ‘changed his name to Jefferson Fuck in 1971, but after a long fight with the U.S. mail, voting ballots, and banks, decided to give up. “It was inaccurate anyway, I was more into oral sex.” Therefore the former Jefferson Poland has now filed an affidavit to change his name to Jefferson Clitlick.’
But whatever happened to my own copy? It was signed by Jim himself, it had my name in it, and I would much rather have it than this battered one that belonged to a former wife.