This book continues an autobiography, the first part of which, Clouds of Glory, won the J R Ackerley Prize. It is by a man who has been a television reporter, an art critic, a teacher of philosophy at Oxford and a Member of Parliament, though from this slice of his life what you would expect him to become is something to do with music. His native heath was Hoxton, once described as ‘the leading criminal quarter of London, and indeed of all England’, and still pretty tough in his day. He was born to a mother who made no bones about disliking her children, particularly him, and a father – a partner in the family business, which was a shop selling menswear – whose love and intelligent guidance did much to compensate for the mother's bleak chilliness. It was from him that Bryan got his passion for music.
Bryan was an outstandingly intelligent child, and robust with it. Like many little Londoners he was an evacuee, sent away to rural safety from the Blitz, and he gives a fascinating account of how he absorbed and managed this experience. Picking wild flowers would have been unspeakably cissy in Hoxton,