Kiss Myself Goodbye: The Many Lives of Aunt Munca

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Kiss Myself Goodbye: The Many Lives of Aunt Munca

Kiss Myself Goodbye: The Many Lives of Aunt Munca

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Mount explains of his decade-long exhumation of a past riddled with as many deceptions and double-crosses as any espionage novel. Now it is usually held right after the funeral, but in most celtiic countries the wake is held before the funeral. Fortunately, after what was a rather impersonal and chilly gathering, five of us met a week or two later at Georgie’s house where, in the garden, we held a send-off with a local priest Georgie had known. In the novel, Dickie occasionally meets people from his old world, and they’re all stranded in this new world, which crosses boundaries so efficiently.

Mount, a former editor of the TLS, is an old Etonian, a cousin of David Cameron and in the 1980s ran the No 10 policy unit under Mrs Thatcher. In Cold Cream , his acclaimed memoir of 2008, Mount describes with all of his usual wit, self-deprecation and astuteness how he came to arrive at the policy unit, Thatcher seemingly having forgotten that she’d once thought him an “idle and effete youth who was full of the consensus mush of the 1960s and who was indulging Keith Joseph [later a minister in her cabinet] in his fatal tendency to believe the last thing he was told”. Across the room from me (for Covid-related reasons, he has bicycled to my house this morning), Mount emits one of his surprisingly high-pitched chuckles. So I feel mildly embarrassed at having taken up embroidery now – yet another retro effect of Covid-19. Two weeks after I finished it, I can’t stop thinking about Kiss Myself Goodbye, Ferdinand Mount’s extraordinary memoir of his Aunt Munca.The abuser has no anxieties, no emotional pain, or salience/memory for that matter, so the survivor appears to be the crazy one, obsessed with the abuse and that buzzword that seems to ignite arguments about diagnosing people without a degree, etc. e. personal recollections about the author's wealthy family members), but Ferdinand Mount's "Kiss Myself Goodbye" is so well-written and bizarre that I stayed up late to finish the book in one sitting.

We’d take turns to select which music to listen to and relish being together, her cat wedged between us. The ordeals suffered by Georgie, Munca’s adopted daughter, are so painful to absorb, I couldn’t go on without shoring up more resilience. Delicious … As well as an ear for the cadences of a sentence, Mount has a remarkable ability to convey the feeling of place … Beneath the surface of this sparklingly wry book you sense all kinds of unexplored feelings of abandonment and loss.Not only does she look too old to have a child (she is 47, but pretends to be 10 years younger), but she has not apparently been pregnant. I’d sent her an electronic cigarette — not in a prim, finger-wagging way, but because vaping was my latest passion and I thought it was worth her giving it a try — she must have been smoking over a pack a day of 20 real ones by then. It makes it all the more impressive that she grew up to be an adult who knew the difference between surface and substance. See “ How it feels to … be outed at boarding school“, Charles Donovan The Sunday Times, 4 June 2017) Or could it be, since I’m the only person to have had an unbroken relationship with Georgie spanning four decades, I’m threatening?

There were none of the giveaways of the pseudo-intellectual — no peppering her speech with literary quotations or Latin phrases, unless she was being arch.But in truth, the book is far more clever and modish even than that suggests, and not only because it opens with a scene in which one of its characters goes champing (camping in a church, in case you’re not up to speed).

At one point Mount tells us he has on his desk evidence enough “to send Munca down for the maximum of seven years, as prescribed under Section 57 of the Offences Against the Person Act of 1861”. She was an extension of themselves rather than a person in her own right; a mannequin to titivate and then put in service to their public image.

The story goes off at lots of tangents and into unnecessary details, when what we really want is to build a picture of this woman who goes by many names in her lifetime. One caveat - there are a lot of references to specific British-y things that were at times unfamiliar to me despite having enjoyed a fair amount of British biography reading. He has a difficult job as Munca didn't seem to tell the truth about herself so every single detail is hard won.

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