You Cannot Live as I Have Lived and Not End Up Like This: The Thoroughly Disgraceful Life and Times of Willie Donaldson by Terence Blacker - review by Virginia Ironside

Virginia Ironside

What A Character, Eh!

You Cannot Live as I Have Lived and Not End Up Like This: The Thoroughly Disgraceful Life and Times of Willie Donaldson

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Ebury Press 342pp £12.99 order from our bookshop
 

Even though I was around in London in the Sixties at the same time as Willie Donaldson, I never actually met him. I know of him only by reputation – for the moment when he took up a show at the Edinburgh Fringe starring my soon-to-be husband and brought it, with co-producer Michael White, to the West End.

In a masterstroke of self-destruction, he insisted it be called ‘****’. Naturally, because this was completely unpronounceable (Fuck? Cunt? Cock? Shit? – every swear word was represented by four stars in those censorious days), it only ran for a week. 

Terence Blacker’s excellent book charts Donaldson’s rise and fall, though to be honest there was never that much of a rise, just a series of accidental bumps and pits. Born in Sunningdale in 1935 and saddled with the terrible disadvantage of being sent to Winchester, he went on to Cambridge,

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