I've already got a copy of Brideshead somewhere amongst the hundreds (thousands?) of books that I have boxed up in the loft of the Apprentice shop, but if I went to search for it I would have to write off days on end cooing over other volumes I have loved.
My first copy of Brideshead was a TV series tie-in edition paperback with Jeremy Irons and Anthony Andrews pouting on the cover. Uninspiring as that may sound it was preferable to the exerable monochrome cover of the Penguin edition that has just arrived. This is adorned by some knob in a bow tie with his eyelids shut in ecstacy, perhaps as Anthony Blanche - out of shot - smacks his arse.
That said, when I revisit Brideshead my intention is to read it as opposed to prospect for, and then mine, seams of homoeroticism.
All joking aside I think Brideshead may be a profound work. I remembered a scene from the TV series and dug it up in the book:
That exchange drove me nuts a quarter of a century ago, but these days I'm moving closer to accepting that "a lovely idea" is what inspires people to believe everything from maths to magi.
Often, almost daily, since I had known Sebastian, some chance ' word in his conversation had reminded me that he was a Catholic, ' but I took it as a foible, like his Teddy-bear. We never discussed the matter until on the second Sunday at Brideshead, when Father Phipps had left us and we sat in the colonnade with the papers, he surprised me by saying: "Oh dear, it's very difficult being a Catholic."
"Does it make much difference to you?"
"Of course. All the time."
"Well, I can't say I've noticed it. Are you struggling against temptation? You don't seem much more virtuous than me."
"I'm very, very much wickeder," said Sebastian indignantly.
"Who was it used to pray, 'Oh God, make me good, but not yet'?"'
"I don't know. You, I should think."
"Why, yes, I do, every day. But it isn't that." He turned back to the pages of the News of -the World and said, "Another naughty scout-master."
"I suppose they try and make you believe an awful lot of nonsense?"
"Is it nonsense? I wish it were. It sometimes sounds terribly sensible to me."
"But, my dear Sebastian, you can't seriously believe it all."
"I mean about Christmas and the star and the three kings and the ox and the ass."
"Oh yes, I believe that. It's a lovely idea."
"But you can't believe things because they're a lovely idea."
"But I do. That's how I believe."