Diary – Monday 29 May 1995


All those who thought it unlikely that Michael Crick’s unofficial biography of Jeffrey Archer, Stranger Than Fiction, would go unremarked by its subject were right. Lord Archer has written to Crick’s publisher, Andrew Franklin of Hamish Hamilton, and to Penguin’s MD, Trevor Glover. The content is as you would expect: how could they have lowered themselves to be involved with a biography of a living subject that is not authorised … “I will have nothing to do with this book or its author … Mr Crick has repeatedly pestered my friends … blah blah blah.”

What has particularly amused Crick is Archer’s recent crash course in vocabulary expansion. “It is,” says Crick, “the first time in several years that he has used two words that I’d never heard of before: ‘factitious invitation” (a reference to Crick’s book launch) and ‘I trust you will agree that it would be quotious to refuse your invitation.’ ” With the aid of a dictionary, Crick has unravelled Archer’s meaning. “Factitious means artificial, and quotious, superfluous or futile,” he says, pausing thoughtfully – “I bet Mary Archer wrote that letter.”