Diary of Writing Italy’s Sorrow

Winchester, July 17, 2006
Today headed over to Winchester to the Royal Green Jackets and Rifle Brigade Museum to look at Alex Bowlby’s papers.  I met Alex before he died at his flat in London.  It was an extraordinary place – absolutely filthy and crammed with books and papers, and lovely but dusty pieces of furniture and objets d’art.  We talked for ages but my old Dictaphone kept playing up, so the finished interview was not very good.  He also gave me an extraordinary lunch: thick slabs of smoked salmon and bread, and small lemon biscuits that he always bought whenever he was in Italy.  Anyway, in the course of our chat, he told me he’d written ‘Further Recollections of Rifleman Bowlby,’ which he hoped Cassells were going to publish.  He said I could read them but when I asked him if I could borrow a copy he told me he hadn’t quite finished it and would let me have it when he had.  He did show me one extract, though, which was very interesting.  I never did see any more, however, and since then he as has sadly died.  I learned that all his papers had been given to the museum in Winchester, but although I did find some photos and cuttings and one or two other things, there was no sign of the elusive manuscript, only a rejection letter from Cassells.  

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