Pig Ignorant is how Nicholas Fisk describes his sixteen-year-old self. He found his first job – assistant to a theatrical agent – shortly after leaving school, but he lived really for the evenings when he would go and play jazz in Soho. Nicholas was no great guitarist and didn’t always understand what was going on, but always got by with a magical mixture of innocence and enthusiasm. Problems were often avoided simply because he didn’t realize they existed; just as he tried not to notice that the world was at war, even though bombs were falling all around him nightly. For this gauche, awkward adolescent, living in London during the Blitz, there was so much to be learnt and it had to be done quickly.
Pig Ignorant is a charming, vivid memoir of Nicholas Fisk’s early years which describes an all too familiar frightening and chaotic coming of age for those born in the capital in the Roaring Twenties.
‘Nicholas Fisk was a pseudonym for David Higginbottom. He was born in London into a family with a strong creative tradition. His father, William, author of Frightfulness in Modern Art (1928), was an artist and art teacher. His mother, Margaret (nee Willmore), came from a theatrical family and was the sister of the Irish actor Micheál Mac Liammóir. Fisk was educated at Ardingly college, West Sussex, and left school at 16 after his father died. His mother felt that he would be better doing a job than continuing his education.
In his brief memoir of his teenage years, Pig Ignorant (1992), Fisk described his adolescence in London during the blitz and the backdrop of uncertainty and danger that it gave to his life. His first job was working for a theatrical agent, secured on the strength of his phone manner and the fact that he could type. The office was conveniently situated in Covent Garden, and his evenings were spent in the jazz clubs of Soho.
A self-taught jazz-guitarist, he later played with Stéphane Grappelli and Django Reinhardt, and he also became a proficient enough illustrator to be a cartoonist for the Daily Sketch. After the second world war, during which he served as an RAF meteorological officer, Fisk worked for the publishers Lund Humphries before moving to a career in advertising.’ Julia Eccleshare, Guardian
Read Nicholas Fisk’s full obituary here