The Heroism of Ordinary Life
Like many 15-year-olds I dreamt of understanding myself better. I knew my background was ‘bourgeois’ and thought I was probably gay. Did this mean that I ‘fitted in’? Or not? My English master lent me a story by Angus Wilson called ‘Fresh Air Fiend’, and this encouraged me to read Wilson’s landmark collections The Wrong Set (1949) and Such Darling Dodos (1950). I felt attracted by his mind: he seemed to have the social world thoroughly mapped and to be writing simultaneously with an insider’s confidence and an outsider’s sharp insights. There was a certain bitterness in these stories that both attracted and disturbed me.