Going through old correspondence, I came across a collection of cards and letters from a personal hero - J G Ballard.
It’s always amazed me that Ballard took the time to respond to my daft letters full questions and queries he must have answered innumerable times. It said much about Ballard’s great humility and character.
The first, dated April 27 1993, was written on a postcard of Carel Willink De Zeppelin, the blue ink (probably a Pentel pen) has faded somewhat, but still visible are his kind words and enthusiasm for a short story I’d sent him, which he over-praised as “a powerful + original piece of work”, and his explanation of the biographical elements of The Kindness of Women:
‘...which is about my writing as much as my life - my life seen through the spectrum of everything I’ve written.’
During the 10 years of our intermittent correspondence, Ballard was always kind, gracious, encouraging and helpful - an example we all can learn from.
Dear Mr Gallagher,
Many thanks for your letter from LA - I think probably you should make the documentary about the city - I on the whole rather enjoyed the week i spent there some years ago - but then no one mugged me or shot at me on the freeway - part of the problem there have been too many films about LA on TV over the recent years.
Thanks for reading my stuff -
All the best,
J G Ballard
On the back of two photographs of cats.
Dear Paul Gallagher,
Many thanks for the copy of the Surrealist Games, which looks fascinating - everything the Surrealists produced half a century or more ago now seems so rich and exciting - thanks too for the kind comments on my work - I’m glad you enjoyed the Kaleidoscope programme, which, I haven’t heard - I liked Pat Kane, who reminded me a bit of Robbie Coltrane (in Cracker) - Running Wild is out of print, but at some point will be reissued by Flamingo in paperback - apart from my single author’s copy I’m completely out, so can’t send you one - Sorry. It sounds as if you’re almost too busy - I envy you the energy.
All best wishes,
J G Ballard