'This is a period without glamour,' Isherwood writes in a diary entry for 18 May 1962, apropos his lover Don Bachardy's birthday. 'He blames me because his birthday isn't marvellous, and I would blame him under the same circumstances.' Isherwood feared these times without glamour - if they were without glamour - because he was about to be in his sixties and on this particular day Bachardy had turned 28. And after nine years together - they met in 1953 - they were beginning to figure out whether this was going to be a life together, as it turned out to be, or whether they could accommodate to what had become the rhythm of Bachardy's life. Bachardy wanted his 'independence', his own studio, a life apart, while Isherwood held tight, endlessly understanding of Bachardy's 'needs' but nevertheless a wreck whenever Bachardy went away. 'I'm certainly not deeply pleased by the way I've been handling my life while he's been gone. Drinking, idling, wasting time with people I don't really want to see,' he writes, always a little charmed by his own self-contempt. At other times he admonishes himself to 'make something out of the experience; discipline and train myself. Not run around to parties getting drunk and looking for "consolation".' But running round to parties and getting drunk is what he does and the 'consolations' he finds are not always a waste of time.
LRB 6 January 2011 | PDF Download