When I started as a features assistant on the Evening Standard in 2007, I used to watch a white-haired, slightly stooped figure come into the office once a week, deliver an article to the arts editor and tackle a large pile of post. ‘That,’ I was told reverentially by someone, ‘is Brian Sewell.’
I quickly became an admirer of this seventy-something man who talked about masturbation and sex in erudite pieces about art, and who swore so elegantly. And one day I braved talking to him, mentioning that my step-mother – who had worked in the art world – always spoke very fondly of him. And he was twinkly and charming and wonderful in response, recalling a lunch they’d both had years before.
I was lucky enough to commission him a few times since, on the Daily Mail and subsequently at Tatler. His pieces would arrive by fax or by post having been written on his type-writer. And HERE is a link to one of them, an article he wrote for Tatler a couple of years ago on growing old disgracefully.
When I called him to commission it, he laughed. ‘I don’t think I do anything that disgraceful any more,’ Brian said. And then he produced this marvellous piece, which naturally mentioned wanking, sex AND swearing. What a pro.