As Much As I Dare: An Autobiography by Arnold Wesker
Introduced by Anne Brichto
Another Hay Giant has died. I have just heard that Arnold Wesker has gone.
He was a friend for many years as he lived near by in a beautiful isolated farmhouse just under Hay Bluff. He used to delight in the fact that all anyone had to write on an envelope was Arnold Wesker, Hay-on-Wye and the letter would reach him.
Arnold Wesker at home near Hay-on-Wye
Apart from being one of the defining voices in mid to late twentieth century drama, he was a political activist and also an excellent actor which not many people knew. He graciously became the patron of the Hay Millennium Festival, guided us on our community play production and did some performances of his works upstairs at Oscar’s – a small local restaurant. Seeing him transform into a querulous old lady was extraordinary. The audience squeezed into all the corners were absolutely spell-bound.
He had such a passion for books and would read everything. He even tried Fifty Shades of Grey and said it wasn’t nearly as awful as most of his friends thought.
He admired anyone who made a living from writing as he knew how tough that was. Arnold and his wife Dusty were the most generous of hosts. They cooked delicious food and served lovely wines. Even when I was at his house buying books there was always a perfect lunch and a small glass of some yummy liquor when I started flagging after hours of looking through his library.
Arnold was also very funny with a huge heart and a way of looking at life that made the unbearable bearable. The challenge of Parkinson’s frustrated him but he soldiered on and never stopped writing.
I know he will be remembered as one of the defining voices of mid twentieth century drama but in Hay he will be also remembered for his joy in life, his dry observational eye and his immense charm. We had a gorgeous young manager, ‘Mandie, over the 1990s who said of Arnold “You know I have never understood it when my friends fancied older men until I met Arnold Wesker – he is so attractive and makes me melt”.
Arnold loved writing, good food, women and living life to the full. Rooms warmed up when he walked into them and that’s why we will never forget him.
Read about Arnold Wesker in his own words in his autobiography As Much As I Dare.
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