feeding the chickens. Kitty, small and apparently frail, but in reality strong, answered the door, and some time and tea later Malcolm himself joined us. He asked anxiously if it was all right for Kitty to sit in on the interview. And so she did every time I went down there, every time asking me if I minded.
They made a wonderful combination, she prompting him into telling an amusing or apt story, bringing him back to specific questions, he mischievously making extravagant or sweeping comments. "I was born into the socialist faith." "The agnostic," corrected Kitty. Bernard Shaw, he said, was "the biggest liar who ever lived"; Kitty told how Shaw made a pass at her aunt Beatrice Webb. Solzhenitsyn was "my great hero", the Pope's globe-trotting "a revolution", and so on.
He alarmed me early on by saying that he was an old man waiting for death, but his vitality certainly belied such a claim.
Once I came down days after the October 1987 storms. I rang the local taxi-driver who said at first that he wouldn't take a passenger because he was having lunch. But when he learnt that I was going to the Muggeridges he said, "of course I must take you; 1'11 stop having my lunch — I'd do anything for them."
The last time I went down I was shocked to find that a major road was being built only a few hundred yards away from them. The Muggeridges were not interested in complaining, saying instead that the road would be of great benefit to people in the area. Kitty read a quote by St Augustine from her husband's last book: "I am ashamed that my tongue cannot live up to my heart", and Malcolm said, with his unfailing politeness, "have you time for another cuppe