Friday, 27 April 2018

Brian Sewell


Last night, after I had cut the lawn, I took a cup of coffee and a book over to the Churchyard and sat in the faint glow of the setting sun to read.
My book was a gift from a blogger . 
Sleeping With Dogs by Brian Sewell

I never really took to Sewell . On tv I always found him snobbish, acerbic and rather pompous. But this " peripheral" autobiography which is a lyrical chronicle of all of the dogs in his life, has rather charmed and moved me, so much so that some of his writing actually reduced me to tears.
I will share this moment from the prelude.

"......I have ever since slept with all my dogs, one, two, three, or four at a time, waking, as I always do,with the not-quite dawn, but often making no attempt to leave my bed, so luxuriously seductive in the warmth on all sides. For an hour and more I have lain in this cocoon at least ten thousand times, ignoring the insistent thoughts of coffee and the working day, mindlessly drifting in and out of sleep, as immobilised by my companions as by anaesthesia. This, when the time comes, is how I wish to die"

After I read this I put down the book for a moment and sipped my coffee to think. I later found out that Sewell died of cancer in 2015.
I wonder if that final wish was granted.

78 comments:

  1. I never liked him much on the TV either but now see another side to his character. A person who loves their animals so much can't be all bad.

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    1. I liked the book because dogs to him are like dogs to me....as necessary as breathing

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  2. When I saw the heading to the post I thought, funny, this is going to be some tirade about Sewell. I remember you saying how much you disliked him.

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    1. I think his rudeness was what I always disliked

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    2. I never thought of him as rude, just direct and honest and eccentric.

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  3. We can only hope he did get that final wish. I suspect rather a lot of us would happy to depart in a similar way.

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  4. He was one of the last art critics who actually was a critic and expressed an opinion. Now you can read art critics and you wonder at the end of it what they think, well, did you like it or didn't you? They never say, just sit on the fence these days.

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    1. was it crap or wasn't it? Sewell used to say.

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  5. I'll have to google him, I don't know him but i am sure he was a good person.

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    1. Try and find a recording of his voice, Yael!

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    2. Yes once heard never forgotten

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    3. https://youtu.be/5EFJ_rpSAa4, I did it.

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    4. Wonderful Yael...greetings x

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  6. I'm always part of a dog sandwich ..... one curled in front of me and one snuggled into my back...until like clockwork they get up at 6:30 and leave me...how do dogs tell time so accurately????

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    1. I would wake up exactly at 6.30 if I told myself to do so

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  7. I knew him quite well; he was completely impervious to piss-taking!

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    1. Tell us more about him cro

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    2. There's not much more to tell. He was a pompous sceptic, who questioned the authenticity of every picture we had in the London gallery I was managing.

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  8. Far to few, live as they wish at the end of life.

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    1. Yes I know that's your bread and butter ! So sad

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  9. No idea who he is, but I expect when it is time for you go upstairs, you would quite like to go surrounded by the warmth of you beloved dogs.

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    1. Look him up Andrew , he's quite an interesting gay character who sort of oooozed a coming out .......he was against gay marriage btw

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  10. I had to google the name and do recognise him of course. I've just come home from a dog walk with my neighbour who was a little upset that her dog hadn't slept on her bed last night.
    I've never had a dog sleep on my bed, always had quite big dogs ! The cats monopolise the beds during the day. When I was poorly recently and kept going back to bed, it was rather comforting to have one-off the cats there with me.
    When one of our dogs was run over and killed when I was about six, I had the dream a lot of people seem to that she was lying on the end of my bed.

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    1. When the central heating hasn't come on in winter a dog is as good as a hot water bottle

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  11. I always quite liked him, I quite like quirky people. I hadn't realized he had died though, fingers crossed he had his last wish...

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    1. I've tried to find out...no luck so far

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  12. Debbie11:47 am

    Our dogs have never slept with us. It’s a lovely sentiment, though. I hope the author got his wish.

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  13. His voice alone would have got him beaten up at my school.

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  14. I hope the dogs didn't eat him.

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    1. I think they were greyhounds so they didn't eat much

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  15. This was my experience too. My daughter gave me the book and while I was not a Sewell fan I found the book a delight, and terribly sad in parts. I cried more than once myself.

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  16. How touching .. and while I only have cats at the moment, I still miss my sweet Pup .. who would sit and stare at me in the morning, waiting for me to tell him in was OK to get up on the bed.<3

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    1. I'm going to get it today
      https://www.goodreads.com/book/show/18736958-sleeping-with-dogs

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  17. I hope he did get his final wish...I hope we all do.

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  18. (came over from eroswings)

    I'm not familiar with Brian Sewell, so thanks for the heads-up. I'll look for him now. I do hope, as others, that he got his wish. As an aside, I had to do a double take when I saw the photo of you and your husband because he looks so much like a sweet friend of ours who's passed on! The other surprise moment was the pic of you asleep with your knit cap on! My husband sleeps that way in the winter, too! (Mary is adorable!) xo

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  19. Funny how the mind works. Sleeping with dogs had an entirely different connotation for me. My dogs prefer the furniture and their numerous fleece blankets. This probably has something to do with the fact that I sleep with the window open in all weather. I hope, however, in the final sleep, I am surrounded by my dogs.

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  20. None of our critters ever shared our beds. Our cats had their own fave spots around the farmhouse. The dogs were always outside--big working dogs, sometimes sleeping on the porch or veranda. If one of our farm animals was sick or injured, we would be out in the barn, sleeping nearby as we took turns watching and caring for the injured/ill animal, nursing it back to health.

    On long sweltering summer nights, my two brothers and I would sleep on the deck under the stars. Then the dogs would lay by us. Some nights, we'd have friends over, almost like camping, telling stories, swapping jokes, gossiping, or just mesmerized by the ethereal beauty of the innumerable stars, sparkling like diamonds against a velvet sky. On one such night, we were surprised to see our cats leave the house and vanish into the shadows. They moved with a purpose, as if on some important secret mission to another world that was beyond our awareness. Curious, we took turns keeping a lookout. And before the roosters started crowing before dawn, I woke my brothers up to let them see the cats all returning to the house. We always wondered where they went and spent countless hours imagining and speculating on what adventures or secret lives they had.

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    1. I loved reading your comment.

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    2. Yes so did I it was like reading a mini novel

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  21. After I first became aware of him (about 30 or so years ago, I reckon) I disliked him intensely for a very long time. It wasn't helped by the extraordinarily long time he took to come out, hiding inside a self-made 'armour' of sneers against those who had had the courage to do so. And yet there was something fascinating about his plummy speaking voice, even hypnotic, with every word uttered with deliberation and sounding pre-considered - almost a caricature of upper-class snootery. I started to like it enormously and do miss hearing it.
    I know very little about him and didn't know about his love of dogs. I think I'd get a lot out of that book, and sounds like I could relate to it, though I've never owned one on my own. (My family had one for about 12 years up until I was in my late teens). It hardy need saying that any dog and cat would be welcome to sleep in my bed.

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    1. He upset a lot of the YBA's for being outspoken about their art. He was the Evening Standard art critic for many years. I always liked his travel programmes. He was totally eccentric and fun.

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    2. Yes, I now feel I ought to have appreciated him more than I did when he was around - but I did recognise in particular his brutal honesty in evaluating art works which had become so established that hardly anyone else would have dared to talk them down. I found that refreshing.

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    3. He knew his onions

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  22. I love sleeping with my dogs. Especially with Watson who would sleep next to my back. The warmth and weight of him would relieve my sore back. All of them would then end up at the foot of the bed curled up together.
    Winston is still sleeping in his crate right now I can not wait till he can find his way up to the bed.
    Will have to check out this writer and book.

    cheers, parsnip

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    1. Scotties aren't clingy are they so this surprises me. George and maddie would never sleep so close to us

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  23. I hope it was granted.

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  24. It would be a marvelous way to die.

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  25. A lovely excerpt, I'll have to lookout for this. Although our dogs never sleep on our bed they drape themselves all over Alan if he takes to the sofa or the armchair for a nap. At night they are to be found curled up in their beds, Ginger sharing with one of them or them sharing and Ginger stretched out in the other dog bed all next to the Aga nice and cosy.

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    1. George used to go to bed with the Prof for years. Now in his dotage he enjoys his own fluffy bed in the kitchen

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  26. See this for info on himhttps://www.theguardian.com/media/2015/sep/19/brian-sewell

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  27. Whoops! not sure what happened there

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  28. Also found this

    https://www.themayhew.org/news/farewell-brian-sewell/

    His beloved staffie x was with him at the end

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  29. Please if there is a heaven, let me go to dog heaven.

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  30. The dogs I've had were really too big ever to sleep on a bed, but I had a cat that slept with me all the time. He had this ritual where he'd jump on the bed, kind of circle my head, touch my nose with his nose, and then curl up and go to sleep. I miss him.

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    1. Winnie is too big to sleep on our bed...the Prof has now banned all dogs overnight too....I miss them but I do sleep better

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  31. What a lovely description of doggy-pampering heaven. It's a wonder he ever managed to get out of bed.

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    1. He had money, I bet it was a queen size

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  32. I have shared my bed with a few dogs and it is comforting as long as they don’t have fleas.

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  33. Or you don't have lice x

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  34. This book sounds like a lovely read - I must find a copy for my Mum who sleeps with her dog. She emailed a photo the other day of the dog having a "sleep in" tucked under the blankets, head on a pillow. I must also add that this dog has by degrees taken over half the bed and her husband has been sleeping in another room for a couple of years!

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  35. What a lovely quote, which I so identify with. Shows him in a very different light. Really moving, Janx

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  36. Have ordered a second hand copy off Amazon as we sleep with our dogs too :) Looking forward to the read. x

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  37. Thank you for sharing valuable information nice post,I enjoyed reading this post.

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