“Of course, he’s desperately stoned most of the time”, said Victoria Brooke. “But you can understand why.” She was standing by the large fireplace in Mallord Street, turning the pages of one of my first editions, before replacing it on the mantelpiece and giving me a speculative look. “Perhaps you should meet him, darling! After all, just like you he’s mad about books.”
So it was that one evening at about eleven I finally met Paul Getty. He was plump, like a teddy-bear, much older than me, wearing a short dressing-gown, and sitting on a sofa surrounded by books, in a sitting-room which was piled high from floor to ceiling with books and opera records. He smiled sadly at me and although he didn’t look particularly well, he talked brilliantly about books and bindings and soon I began going over to Cheyne Walk quite regularly at eleven or twelve at night to see him and Victoria.
Soon we had become such close friends that Paul gave me a key to the house and I went in and out as I pleased. Victoria and I were usually in her rooms on an upper floor, and we would sometimes go down and spend time with Paul, who never left the sitting-room.
Then one day Victoria announced that she would be going away for a while, to Mexico. She asked me to keep an eye on Paul until she returned; and so began one of the stranger episodes in my life.