I HAVE TO declare an interest, and an avid one. I’ve learned a lot about a higher and wilder branch of my family from reading this autobiography. I share with the author, my good friend Jonathan Gathorne-Hardy, a beautiful Quakerly aunt (my father’s sister) and a clutch of dashing first cousins. While I and my siblings were brought up in the North in unglamorous middle-class sobriety, Jonny Gathorne-Hardy’s family slid up and down the slippery slopes of wealth and aristocracy. My Quakerly aunt married an Earl, and one of the Earl’s three younger brothers was Jonny father.