Evelyn Waugh was an enigmatic little chap. A 'snobbish misanthrope' who penned a series of amusing and lightweight novels during the 1930s until he contracted pretensions of literature. Scoop, Put Out More Flags and Decline and Fall should still be satisfying reading for any schoolboy, and still be able to induce an audible guffaw. Looking at his portrait pic one would take him as a perfect analogue for his unfortunate creation Apthorpe in Sword of Honour, rather than the noble but frustrated Crouchback in whose character he undoubtedly cast himself.
Craig Brown in the The Mail catalogues Waugh's particular hatred of Christmas, and his deep dislike of his own children, Theresa and Bron. "Maria Teresa and Bron have arrived, he is ingratiating, she covered with little medals and badges, neurotically voluble with the vocabulary of the lower-middle class — “serviette”, “spare room". By keeping the children in bed for long periods we managed to have a tolerable day" he wrote in his diary in 1945, when the children were aged six and seven.
Craig Brown omits the story Bron himself told of that Christmas. At the end of the meal the maid brought in a single banana on a plate, an undreamt of wonder to the children after six years of wartime rationing. It was the first time either of them had seen the fruit. They watched as Waugh carefully peeled away the skin .... and proceeded to eat the entire thing himself.
How much of his later misanthropy was due to bearing a girl's name is unclear but it dogged him throughout his life, one contemporary review of Scoop referring throughout to 'Miss Waugh'. Muriel in the Colony would have addressed him in the same way, but out of mischief.
Waugh of course also reflects how far liberal conservatism has come since the 1950s. Unpleasant but successful men exercising patronage through local Conservative Associations that could make or break small businesses, run local planning and development to suit themselves or exclude from local society those they disliked. We must be glad that such men have gone.