You never know when recognition will come. Last week, I was offered the deputy governorship of the American Biographical Institute, for the new low price of $995. The temptation was not Antonine, but it was succeeded by a despatch from Burke’s Peerage: “Exciting news for you and fellow Raphaels.” Did I read on or what? Yes, yes, I was being offered a copy of The Burke’s Peerage World Book of Raphaels. Thanks to Burke’s, my “old and distinguished” family was at last to be restored to primacy in the social scheme of things. As Constantine Karamanlis said, when resurrected from his 11 year Parisian exile by an appeal to return to Greece, “What kept you?” My joy was dented when I perceived that the advertisement for the book was actually addressed to “Mr and Mrs Stephen M Raphael” who, it was promised, “are listed in it.” My wife and I do have a son called Stephen, but he is not married and his middle initial is not M. Perhaps Burke was mis-spelt; its emended form is, as all East Enders know, rhyming slang for what Jonathan Miller is unrepentant about having called our other son.
u u u
some of you may claim to have known Georges Armoulian, but he will not, I suspect, claim to have known you. Georges transcended his Levantine origins, but he never forgot how many stitches there ought to be to every inch of an Usak prayer mat. The sedentary Georges (a dealer but seldom a wheeler) became one of the world’s great bridge players (ask Omar!) as well as a collector to make Charles Foster Kane (q.v.) seem eclectic. How it happened that Anthony Sadleir’s 180 page manuscript Bibliography of Armoulian’s Secret Library came to be delivered to my door is one of the serendipitous mysteries of the postal service which we in the west are fortunate enough still to enjoy.
The author is here revealed as a spoof bibliographer of-sod it, why not?-genius. Since, on his own facsimiled admission, Sadleir’s early books (nuance: he does not say “publications”) include Let’s Explore Tyneside with T Dan Smith, one understands the force of the old adage: “Is Anthony also among the profits?” He may well, and certainly, should be. Among the priceless volumes in the library (to which not even Jorge Luis Borges had a key) are the following (opened at random, like the…