Refulgent mid-February sunshine makes the bar at the Chelsea Arts Club glow. Nine months on, that now seems another era, when William Boyd – in a smart jacket offset by an open shirt collar – was sitting, a glass of red wine to hand, soon after completing his sixteenth novel, Trio.

That winter’s day, we were about to talk of this book, and more, when the barman leapt from his position and, in a bound or two, stood beside a man in a deep-winged armchair the other side of a large pool table. The barman’s task, effectively, politely done, was to remind the member, engaged in ardent talk, that cellphones cannot be used on the premises. The Club has indeed scarcely changed. One can well imagine Laurie Lee arriving, on his way back from the now-vanished Queen’s Elm pub up the road – anything rather than get on with the sequels to Cider with Rosie.

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