‘An alien, an outsider’: Exclusive extract from Quentin Crisp’s final autobiography
PinkNews brings you the second of four exclusive extracts from The Last Word by Quentin Crisp, the final installment of his autobiography.
The Last Word was written in the last years of Crisp’s life, published in Europe and North America by MB Books and is available to buy on Amazon.
Chapter 16: On Being Ninety
As I write these words, I am ninety years old. My ninetieth birthday passed last year on December 25th 1998.
The only advantage of being ninety, as opposed to being sixty, seventy or eighty, is that one can look forward to death with greater certainty. When you’re sixty or seventy, the thought of death crosses your mind like a shadow. It disturbs you and worries you. By the time you reach my age you are longing for it.
Yes, the world around me may be getting noisier, sexier and more horrible by the minute, but at least I can comfort myself with the fact that the end is in sight. Or so I thought.
Imagine my horror when I opened the newspaper just the other day and discovered they will soon be able to make us all live until we turn one hundred and thirty. It doesn’t bear thinking about.
The truth is my body is dying on me. These days I carry it around like a horrible old overcoat. As you get older and older, your body begins to decay. You start to smell of death and there’s nothing you can do about it.
My eyesight has deteriorated to the point where I can no longer see properly. I should wear glasses when I go out, but I am far too vain for facial clutter. As a result, when I venture outside I walk the streets nearly blind.
To add to this, I am also now partially deaf. This means I appear to ignore the greetings of friends and mishear the inquiries of strangers. The deafness combined with my blindness results in people talking to me as if I’m a non-comprehending child, which can be annoying if not used to one’s advantage.
Nevertheless, I remain perfectly capable of comprehending what someone might say to me, were I actually able to see the person in question and hear the words they speak.
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