The playwright Peter Nichols has been a compulsive diarist all his life. He writes for himself alone, responding to an urge to record the daily doings, private and professional, of his family, his fellows - and himself. The resulting diaries are candid, insightful, and often as shockingly funny as his plays.
This selection, republished to mark the playwright's 90th birthday, covers the extraordinarily fruitful period between his first real hit, A Day in the Death of Joe Egg, to the stirrings of his masterpiece, Passion Play.
As the seventies dawn, Peter Nichols is watching Joe Egg being filmed - and hating it. His next play, The National Health, is doing good box office for Olivier's National Theatre - but Olivier is hating it. And Forget-Me-Not Lane is shortly to open at the new Greenwich Theatre amid much anxiety. And then there are three small children (and a fourth in long-term hospital) to cope with, an extended family and the renovation of a tumbledown barn in rural France.
What emerges is one of the most revealing and hilarious accounts of a writer's life, and how – whatever success comes along – everyday life will keep getting in the way. As Nichols attempts to negotiate the world he has found himself in – a world populated by the likes of Albert Finney, Kenneth Tynan, Stephen Sondheim, Michael Frayn and John Osborne – he finds that he is never free from having to entertain his in-laws or cope with children vomiting in the back seat.
Nichols' Diaries are a brilliantly funny, acerbic study of theatrical life, a warts-and-all portrait of parenthood, and a fascinating companion to that remarkable decade, the Seventies.
'Sometimes he says terrible things that strike home to one's heart' Michael Frayn