- Tell Them I’m on my Way by Arnold Goodman
Chapmans, 464 pp, £20.00, August 1993, ISBN 1 85592 636 9
- Not an Englishman: Conversations with Lord Goodman by David Selbourne
Sinclair-Stevenson, 237 pp, £17.99, August 1993, ISBN 1 85619 365 9
The portrait of Lord Goodman on the jacket of his memoirs is from a photograph; the one on David Selbourne’s book is from a portrait by Lucian Freud. In the first he looks severe but quizzical, a kind man but not a man to be put upon; in the second he looks quite desperately sad, as if he had done much to little or no avail, and might well have been put upon quite heavily. Neither quite matches the public image: the ebullient achiever, the man whom everybody in London, from prime ministers, important artists and rich businessmen, down to more ordinarily harassed mortals, regarded as the only present help in time of trouble.
Vol. 15 No. 19 · 7 October 1993
In Frank Kermode’s review of Lord Goodman’s memoirs (LRB, 9 September) there is no mention of this unusual solicitor’s work on behalf of his unimportant clients – inevitably, as Lord Goodman, in his book, is concerned with bigger affairs. I had two experiences with him. The first was when he was acting on behalf of a wealthy client against me. His letters were so friendly that I sensed he was quite pleased when the case was dropped owing to the plaintiff’s death. The second case was when Gollancz were about to publish Ludovic Kennedy’s The Trial of Stephen Ward. The author was convinced a serious miscarriage of justice had been perpetrated. It was the rule at Gollancz that every book (even cook books) had to be read for libel and this one certainly needed legal advice. Fearing that the usual Gollancz solicitor would be very busy with his blue pencil, I persuaded Victor Gollancz to let me consult Arnold Goodman, as he then was. Within three days he telephoned me at nine o’clock in the morning to say: ‘Of course your book is highly libellous. You are libelling a judge. He’ll take no action. Go ahead!’ How many solicitors would have given this kind of sage buccaneer advice? I think Lord Goodman enjoys helping lesser mortals quite as much as the great ones.