It was in the summer of 1999 that the actor, screenwriter, director (Stepford Wives, Whistle Down the Wind, Séance on a wet Afternoon), turned crime writer, who died last May, had asked me to meet him at his second hand bookshop in Virginia Water.
It was an odd sort of shop—not the type one would come across in most provincial towns or indeed most parts of London. Here were no grubby leather-bound tomes in tottering piles, or cabinet of curiosities. I think it sold new as well as second books and indeed most volumes seemed to be of the twentieth century. I glanced around expecting to find rare books on golf or lawn tennis, classic American hard boiled thrillers or collections of recipes for cocktails.
But there no time to look further as Forbes appeared in person and we were soon speeding along in what was probably his Aston Martin to his home on the ultra- exclusive Wentworth estate. I only caught a glance of its exterior, but it seemed to be a huge and classic twenties film-star mansion, which it was, in the sense that Forbes later told me that as a young budding film star in the fifties he had bought it as a total wreck and had spent many thousands of pounds doing it up. Something to admire, I thought.
An impressivee rant against war by the Nobel Prize winning French scientist Charles Richet published about 1925 in his book Idiot Man or The Follies of Mankind (L’Homme Stupide.) A now rare and undeservedly forgotten book in which Richet seems to see ahead to all the millions of deaths in wars of the next 90 years...
When I evoke the vision of war–bloody, cruel, hideous war– burning, shuddering pictures instantly swarm into my mind, so numerous and vivid that I am dazed by them.
Thanks to war, the proofs of human ineptitude are so blatant that any words could only weaken them. But I shall do my best to dam this overwhelming flood of ideas and to calm my indignation.
It is futile to reiterate that war means death, death, and yet again death. But it is not these countless deaths that are my chief charge against it. After all, we must all die someday. A little sooner, a little later, what does it matter?
There are fifteen hundred million human beings on the face of the globe, and glorious war of 1914–18 was only able to destroy fifteen millions. That's nothing, for these fifteen millions represent a mere fraction of mankind; one per cent, which is next to nothing. Two years of increased fertility will make up for this holocaust. And I am almost tempted to use the words of Napoleon, who murmured with a kindly smile as he gazed on all the corpses which his vain glory had piled up on the field of Eylau: "One night in Paris will make up for all of this."