At the age of 16 Barber’s parents allowed her to go out with a man in his late thirties, in fact they encouraged her.
In theory, Simon represented everything my parents most feared – he was not one of us, he was Jewish and cosmopolitan, practically a foreigner! He wore cashmere sweaters and suede shoes; he drove a pointlessly expensive car, he didn’t go to work in an office, he was vague about where he went to school and, worse of all, boasted that he had been educated in the ‘university of life’ – not a teaching establishment my parents recognised. And yet, inexplicably, they liked him.
When he proposed two years later her parents urged her to accept. Prior to this Oxford for Lynn had been their ambition and now they were able to say You don’t need to go to university if you’ve got a good husband. Simon turned out to be already married, a conman and a cheat and Barber never trusted her parents again.
Barber, after learning shorthand and typing, (that will always stand to you her father said) went on to work in Penthouse, the Sunday Express, the Independent on Sunday and the Observer. Her account of her working life is fascinating albeit a little condescending and snobby at times. But it is her marriage to David and the disaster in the final chapter that I found engrossing. She is blatantly honest about her shortcomings and somehow I found this side of endearing.
I love Lynn Barber’s work and now that I know her a little more through this memoir I will read her articles in a somewhat different light. This book is a must read for anyone interested in journalism and is worth it for others just as an insight into the highs and lows of a fascinating career and life.