I’ve always loved collections of letters. Perhaps, it’s the draw of reading words meant for a specific person—a stranger that you will never meet. Some books of letters are huge and it’s like tackling a life in a thousand plus episodes. But these letters, written by an apprehensive English father beginning during the rock and roll, drug days of the late 60s and 70s, are a more manageable 187 pages.
All the letters were penned by the father, Roger, a former military man, and POW who later became a racing columnist for the Sunday Times. In them he offers tons of advice to his wild, drifter son, Charlie. Providing much of the humor in this book are Charlie’s comments that describe his reactions to his Dad’s words at the time.
The letters begin with a young Charlie as he flunks out of elite Eton. Soon he leaves with a record of very bad grades for a lowly “crammer” school. No “firsts” or “seconds” or even a degree for this young man. Soon Charlie embarks on a series of low-paying jobs in agriculture, oil, and real estate. Even when he lands a promising job, he can’t stick with it and bolts off for long vacations to Greece, Africa, and South America. For his Greek trip his dad advises, don’t talk politics. Don’t do drugs; you may land in a gaol. Watch the alcoholic drinks there, they are incredibly strong. Later, when Charlie sets off for vagabonding through South America, his dad asks, have you ever considered a life in the church?