Hello Goodbye Hello is a daisy chain of 101 fascinating true encounters, a book that has been hailed by reviewers in London as “howlingly funny” (The Spectator), “original and a complete delight” (The Sunday Times), and “rich and hugely enjoyable” (The Guardian). Or, as the London Evening Standard put it, “the truth and nothing but the plain, bonkers, howling truth . . . It is partly a huge karmic parlour game, partly a dance to the music of chaos—and only the genius of Craig Brown could have produced it.” Who could imagine such unlikely—but true— encounters as these:
Martha Graham meets Madonna
Igor Stravinsky meets Walt Disney
Frank Lloyd Wright meets Marilyn Monroe
Marilyn Monroe meets Nikita Khrushchev
President Richard Nixon meets Elvis Presley
Harpo Marx meets George Bernard Shaw
Cecil Beaton meets Mick Jagger
Salvador Dali meets Sigmund Freud
Groucho Marx meets T.S. Eliot
Brilliant in conception, Hello Goodbye Hello shows how the celebrated and gifted—like the rest of us— got along famously or disastrously or indifferently with one another, but, thanks to Craig Brown, always to our amusement and entertainment.
From an opening story in which Adolf Hitler survives being knocked down by a careless English driver in 1931 to the Duchess of Windsor’s meeting with the FÜhrer over tea, and 99 others in between, Hello Goodbye Hello is the perfect example that truth is stranger than fiction (and infinitely more enjoyable).
About Craig Brown
Craig Brown writes the Private Eye celebrity diary as well as a twice-weekly column for the Daily Mail (London) and reviews books for Mail on Sunday. He was the host of This Is Craig Brown on BBC Radio 4. Mr. Brown lives in London.
“Hello Goodbye Hello: A Circle of 101 Remarkable Meetings” by Craig Brown
The Washington Post Book Review – July 27, 2012 (Excerpt)
This deliciously clever and amusing book is an extended riff on that old chestnut of cocktail-party conversation, “Small world, isn’t it?” or, of slightly more recent vintage, “Six degrees of separation,” or from no less than Shakespeare, “Strange bedfellows.” This last, it turns out, is also the name of a parlor game, as we learn from one of the many strange encounters (all of them true) that Craig Brown has assembled here:
“[Alexander] Woollcott is delighted at his bringing together George Bernard Shaw and Harpo Marx. ‘He loved playing the game of Strange Bedfellows,’ recalls Harpo. ‘Harpo Marx and Bernard Shaw,’ he used to say, with that smirking chuckle of his. ‘Corned beef and roses!’ ”
There are ample servings of both in “Hello Goodbye Hello,” one of those occasional books that leave the reader wondering why someone didn’t think of this ages ago. It is, as its subtitle says, a “circle” in which one unlikely encounter leads to another until, at the end, it comes full circle.
Thus we begin with an accidental meeting in Munich in 1931 between Adolf Hitler and a young Englishman named John Scott-Ellis, move briskly along to one between Scott-Ellis and Rudyard Kipling, then to one between Kipling and Mark Twain, and so on and so on until, some 300 pages later, T.S. Eliot meets Queen Elizabeth the queen mother, then Queen Elizabeth the queen mother meets the Duchess of Windsor, and then, at last, the Duchess of Windsor meets — tada! — Adolf Hitler. In between there are 95 other improbable encounters, many of them exceedingly funny, a few of them surprisingly revealing and a few rather sad, and all of them connected by the daisy chain to end all daisy chains. [Read the full article...]
From Chaplin to Groucho to T. S. Eliot - ‘Hello Goodbye Hello,’ by Craig Brown
The New York Times Book Review – August 5, 2012 (Excerpt)
According to the captivating new book “Hello Goodbye Hello” Alexander Woollcott, the writer and Algonquin Circle wit, loved to play a game called Strange Bedfellows. One of his biggest coups took place at a Cap d’Antibes villa in the summer of 1928 when he succeeded in bringing together Harpo Marx and George Bernard Shaw (“corned beef and roses,” as he called them) at lunch. The two hit it off, and later that week Harpo drove Shaw to Cannes, where a friend of Shaw’s cast them as extras in a movie; a scene featuring them playing billiards, alas, would be left on the cutting-room floor.
In “Hello Goodbye Hello” Craig Brown — a longtime columnist for the satirical British magazine Private Eye— weaves together dozens of such encounters into a glittering daisy chain that reads like a mathematical proof of the theory of six degrees of separation.
“Everything in this book is documented,” he writes. “Nothing is invented. When accounts of the same meeting differ, as they almost always do, I have sided with the most likely.”
Though the volume is bookended by chapters involving Hitler, it zigzags furiously across the decades, connecting politics to show business, royalty to the art world. Along the way it illustrates the cosmic serendipity of life, somehow managing to connect the dots between Rudyard Kipling and Helen Keller (both knew Mark Twain), between Frank Lloyd Wright and Nikita Khrushchev (both met Marilyn Monroe), and between Diana, Princess of Wales, and Raymond Chandler. (Diana met Princess Grace of Monaco, who had worked with Alfred Hitchcock, who had worked with Chandler.) [Read the full article...]
3 Celebrity Friendships That Weren’t Meant To Be
NPR Book Review – August 18, 2012 (Excerpt)
Years ago, when NPR’s Susan Stamberg was working for the wife of an American ambassador in New Delhi, she answered the door to the ambassador’s home to find the maharajah of Jaipur standing outside.
“Your highness,” she said, “what gorgeous pearls you’re wearing.”
“Oh, thank you,” the maharaja replied. “On Tuesdays I wear pearls; on Wednesdays it’s emeralds; Thursday, rubies.”
But not all celebrity encounters go so well. In his new book,Hello Goodbye Hello, London Daily Mail columnist Craig Brown has collected accounts of 101 real-life meetings between famous people. Brown tells Stamberg about some of the more surprising — and awkward — encounters he learned about in the course of writing his book. [Read the full article...]
DOODLEBUGS & SPITFIRES
Memories and Short Stories by Peter Carroll
“Doodlebugs & Spitfires” is a delightful collection of memories and short stories written by Peter Carroll, the author of “Queen of Misfortune,” in his trademark poetic and profoundly thoughtful style.
Most of his stories, previously published in limited form in local English newspapers and magazines, like “Brave New World”, “The Forties Street Tradesmen”, “Doodlebugs”, or “The Christmas of 43” evolve around his childhood in the Northern part of London during and after World War II. He describes the horrors that came with the V1 flying bombs, nicknamed the “Doodlebugs.” Heroic British pilots in their “Spitfire” airplanes would attempt to divert the flying bombs from the populated areas, sometimes successful, and sometimes not.
Doodlebugs & Spitfires is available at Amazon.Com and its Kindle store, Amazon.co.uk and its Kindle store, Barnes & Noble, and any other good bookstore.