Aldous Huxley - A Life

By Our Own Correspondent

International figure, raconteur and Northern Territories 'Memory Man' finalist five years running, Aldous Huxley has shocked his world-wide following by retiring from public life. For many, the loss has been almost unbearable; his Swedish fan club has threatened shock tactics against international margarine importers unless the decision is reversed, whilst the Queen is said to be considering returning her M.B.E. in protest (although an aide gave assurances that this was also because her latest single "Me and the widow O'Reilly" had failed to reach the coveted number one position, stalling at number 56).

Alan "Aldous" Huxley was born March 21, 1892, aged 16. His early, adolescent years were difficult and young Alan found life taxing. Little by little, his successes came, slowly but gloriously. When, as a small boy of twenty, his mother told dinner party guests that young Alan (or "Aldous" as he increasingly liked to be known) had today performed his first unassisted shave, young Aldous informed guests, "Not only that, but I've come up with some smashing ideas about trains and a big gorilla".

Well, that Gorilla certainly bore fruit, and the precocious young lad was soon talk of the town: it was only a matter of time before the world knew his name. To further his increasingly diverse interests, he wrote leaders for The New York Times, became a well-known figure on the international boule circuit and became something of an authority on Turkish abattoirs. His records consistently topped the charts (among them his fine re-working of "Love grows where my rosemary grows" on which he cheekily raps in Senegalese), and his many books were always bestsellers: who can forget "Cooking with Huxley (and some food) "(1952), "Living in sin"(1492), or his many volumes for readers of a younger age, "What Katy did with a spanner and an arc-welding kit"(1970) among them.

Of course, modern times put quite a spring into Huxley's step, but the good times seemed to have taken a hold. Word had spread about his late night scrabble sessions, while his performance piece "Bring a Rhinoceros" shocked and stunned an apoplectic art world. It was, however, his New Hampshire parties which brought him infamy - in particular his 24-hour 'happening', "choose your coconuts, hi", which led him to an unwanted encounter with the police, although, sporting a black eye, he later joked with reporters that "you should see the other fellow, ha ha".

In later years, of course, he viewed his earlier waywardness with scorn and became a vociferous critic of drug abuse, joining the Christian pressure group Catholics Against Caffeine and later forming his own society the Anti-Sanatogen League (ASL). Although he never married, he outlived his natural son who had a tragically prolonged labour and died of natural causes days later at the age of 76. For many, the highlight of his career was his '69 comeback, only four years after his own death. He told one interviewer, "if I can't carry on just, y'know, doin'it for people, well I might as well just die!"

His retirement from public life has been expected for some time; he finished a poor fifth in last year's Grand National ("Next year I'll use a horse", he quipped) failed to win his final attempt at the Ryder Cup, and his last novel 'Noddy in Tehran' was kept from the number one best-sellers position by Anna Ryder Richardson's "Butt Naked with Lord Lucan". Telling a sorry public the regrettable news, an unbowed Huxley said, "I've been old and young, big and, yes, even small; I've given both good and bad; it has all been in public. From now on, your Holiness, it must all be in private". Huxley is survived by the present English population. He will be missed.

Back to the Features!!!