Vol. 15 No. 13 · 8 July 1993
I was intrigued and a little puzzled by several phrases in Hugo Williams’s poems based on his schooldays (LRB, 24 June). In ‘Guilt’ he writes: ‘he caught me in bed with another boy.’ When I was friends with Hugo he told me that there was no homosexuality in Eton, only a lot of talk about it – a story which doesn’t quite tally with what I’ve heard from other old Etonians. Perhaps, though, the poem refers to a prep-school incident. The title is puzzling too. Surely one boy going to bed with another of much the same age is not a matter for guilt these days?
In the first poem, ‘Old Boy’, Hugo writes: ‘everyone looks up to me because I’ve been round the world and have my own wife and motorbike.’ In a poem called ‘Winning’ I noted that luggage travels –
even bags can fly –
but are they any better for the trip?
No, simply battered, with a busted zip.
To turn to his other point. Surely it’s the quality of wife and motorbike (or car) that incites the admiration of others. Hugo, as I remember it, is not the proud possessor of a Harley Davidson.