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By Jeffrey Bernard

For 40 years Bernard wrote in simple terms approximately himself, and the story of his existence, loves and screw ups has develop into mythical. Reach for the Ground is an impossible to resist choice of the simplest of Jeffrey Bernard's celebrated Low Life contributions to the Spectator. The column used to be defined as 'a suicide word in weekly instalments' and have become a countrywide establishment whose passing was once famous with nice sorrow. Peter O'Toole's affectionate creation remembers a forty-year-old friendship and 3 gleaming autobiographical essays encapsulate the defining reports of Bernard's existence.

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Dear God, the cleaning woman has just this minute phoned to say she can’t make it today. Why oh why did I wash up and hide my dirty socks? She says she is coming in two days’ time and I intend to make the place filthy by then. I want my money’s worth. Gathering gloom I am writing to you on the morning of Derby Day and a pretty damp and miserable morning it is. m. and we have been trying to outstare each other for two hours now. The jasmine finally died in the night and I see that my palm trees may be on the way out.

But pouring a drink is as silent as pouring oil, I suppose the noise of the electric juice squeezer indicates how many drinks I have had, since it is one orange per vodka, but it is doubtful that she can hear my brain seething. For me, it is a deafening noise. Anyway, considering I am so aware of these trivial things – the upstairs peeing person was half an hour late for work this morning – you can see that my life is rather thin, not to say almost empty. All the more reason to wonder that the nice Austrian woman, Renate, should have picked on me as the subject of her PhD thesis.

That would be better because she certainly isn’t cut out to be what I remember charladies as long ago when I was a boy. This one isn’t ugly or old enough and she hasn’t got a smoker’s cough, neither does she shuffle about and moan. Nor does she stop work for tea, although I did once inflict a vodka on her. (The sun in Maida Vale is over the yard-arm before you can say Jack Robinson. ) I suppose I should go and wash the make-up off now before she arrives and go back to looking as transparent as an amoeba again.

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Reach for the Ground: The Downhill Struggle of Jeffrey Bernard by Jeffrey Bernard


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