Get the placentas

Gavin Francis

  • BuyThe Life Project: The Extraordinary Story of Our Ordinary Lives by Helen Pearson
    Allen Lane, 399 pp, £20.00, February 2016, ISBN 978 1 84614 826 2

In November 1981 at a function in London, Neville Butler, a professor of paediatric medicine at Bristol University, contrived to drop a cup of coffee at Margaret Thatcher’s feet. He stooped down to mop it up, then sprang up and asked her for money. ‘I’m Professor Butler,’ he’s reported to have said. ‘We’re doing a national study looking at thousands of children. We need more funding!’ She ordered a member of her entourage to ‘talk to this gentleman’, then pushed on to give her speech. Helen Pearson makes no judgment as to whether splashing Margaret Thatcher with coffee helped Butler to get his funding. She does tell us that he spent his evenings writing begging letters to the worthies listed in Who’s Who, and that he managed to get money from the likes of Robert Maxwell, Cliff Richard and Twiggy.

The full text of this book review is only available to subscribers of the London Review of Books.

You are not logged in