Looking out an early edition of one of my novels this morning took me back to my first publisher for novels, Macmillan & Co. My first book, The Comforters, published by them in 1957, came out on the same day in February that Harold Macmillan, head of the firm, became prime minister.
It was not until 1963, after his resignation from the government, that I got to know him. He was at that time writing his memoirs and was then running the firm.
My own relations with Macmillan the publishers endured many ups and downs, but I always thoroughly enjoyed my meetings with Harold Macmillan himself. He was enormously intelligent and full of humour, even when he wryly referred to himself as 'a fallen minister'.
I remember I once had to meet him somewhere in London and was holding the Evening Standard, which I had bought on the way. Harold pointed to the picture on the front page. It was of Nikita Khrushchev, now also out of office, casting his vote in one of their so-called elections. 'Just look at him,' said Harold. 'How well they've turned him out. A smart coat, a good hat ... My government never gave me a good