chapter  5
12 Pages


As a small, rather wistful child, growing up in the lovely quiet and slightly dull safeness of semi-rural British suburbia, I was a particularly solemn and precocious child reader. As ‘boy’ I was an unmitigated failure: tree-climbing, football, dirt and physical exertion of any kind were anathema to me. I was not a sportsman, I was a reader, and I identified fiercely as such. I read in order to be what I felt I already was: something different, something outside the norm, something on its own. I remember once, on a rainy afternoon, stumbling across, in a collection of my parents’ books, a strange fragment penned by the architect and theorist Adolf Loos in 1913:

today, the middle classes are deeply moved by the works of the crazy, sick musician. Have they become aristocratic, are they like the nobles of 1814, struck with awe at the will of the genius? No […] they have something wrong with their ears now, they all have Beethoven’s ears. […] All their anatomical details, all their ossicles, labyrinths, drums, and trumpets, have taken on the diseased forms of Beethoven’s ears.1