ME, MY DAD AND OTHER GROWN-UPS
WILLIAM MILLER Profile, 338pp, £14.99, Oldie price £10.36 inc p&p
The son of Dr Jonathan Miller (writer, theatre director, and Lefty sage) and Rachel Miller (a GP), the author grew up in an affluent street in Camden in the 1970s and 80s, where his neighbours included playwrights Alan Bennett and Michael Frayn, biographer Claire Tomalin, and philosopher AJ ‘Freddie’ Ayer. ‘This is a memoir with a street as its hero,’ wrote Susie Boyt in the Financial Times. ‘Gloucester Crescent, a handsome thoroughfare of early Victorian houses, was a sort of Brookside for the leading leftwing intellectuals of the day, a street whose residents ate, drank and slept books, a street that brimmed with sky-high IQS and tubs of taramasalata, with a soundtrack of competitive typing.’
Yet ‘at the emotional heart of this book stands the sometimes painful relationship between Miller and his father, whose high seriousness and bouts of despair present an obstacle to intimacy. The lives of Miller senior’s children can seem beyond him and beneath him; he wanted, Miller junior says, a family that would, “if they can’t talk about something intelligent, sit in silence and let him do the talking so he can lecture us about Charles Dickens or what the Germans did to everyone in the war”.’ William Miller, now in his mid-fifties, produces Nigella Lawson’s cookery programmes and is living in Gloucester Crescent again, in a house of his own. ‘Told in a naïve prose that shifts between past and present tenses,’ wrote Amanda Craig in the Observer, it is ‘stuffed with hilarious literary gossip and anecdote’.
Jonathan Miller and his son William