John Bayley

  • The Life of Ian Fleming by Donald McCormick
    Peter Owen, 231 pp, £18.50, July 1993, ISBN 0 7206 0888 0

The relation between daily living and fantasy life is unpredictable and often comical. A classic pattern would be failure or boredom breeding compensatory success stories. Some aspect of a job which is totally non-fulfilling in reality can be worked up by the imagination in order to satisfy private dreams. Conan Doyle started to invent Dr Watson and Sherlock Holmes while waiting dejectedly for custom in his own surgery. Not only do cases or patients turn up at the Baker Street sitting-room with dramatic regularity, but each presents its own fascinating problem, which only the fantasy couple are competent to solve. What bored doctor could ask for more? Yet sometimes things seem to work the other way round. A highly competent and colourful individual, leading a dramatically energetic business and love life, might indulge in daydreams that are sensational, even spectacularly so, but at the same time are sheltered and placid, full of cosy routines, just like sitting down to tea in the nursery.

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