Desmond Leslie [Peter Arthur] (1921-2001)

Criticism

Life
[Desmond Peter Arthur Leslie;] b. 29 June 1921; youngest son of Sir Shane Leslie and Margaret (née Ide); brought up at Glaslough, Co. Monaghan; ed. Ampleforth and TCD; flew Spitfires in World War II; m. Agnes Birnelle on Armistice Day, with whom with children Shaun (1947), Mark (1952) and Antonia (1963); experimented with electronic music [musique concrète] and built the first multi-track sound-mixing desk; also worked in film, scripting My Hands are Clay (1947), Stranger at My Door (1950), Stranger from Venus (1954), Them and the Thing (1960), reflecting his interest in UFOs; issued a book, Flying Saucers Have Landed (1953), written with George Adamski;
 
settled at Glaslough, Ireland, 1956; recorded his own vinyl [acetate] tracks later used for Dr. Who; famously punched Bernard Levin on BBC TV show That Was the Week that Was, 1962; also issued How Britain Won the Space Race (1966) and The Jesus File (1975); divorced and m. [Jennifer] Helen Strong, 1970, with whom children Samantha (1966) and Camilla (1969); later moved to the French Riviera, with Helen; Glaslough managed as tourist venue by dg. Sammy; Mark became an architect being associated early on with a project in Algeria which collapsed. DIW IF2

Borderlands: there is striking photo-portrait and literary sketch of Leslie in Colum Tóibín's Walking the Border (1987).

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Criticism
Desmond Leslie, 1921-2001: The Biography of an Irish Gentleman (Dublin: Lilliput Press 2010), 216pp.

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References
Desmond Clarke, Ireland in Fiction [Pt II] (Cork: Royal Carbery 1985), cites Careless Lives [n.d.], and lists Pardon My Return (London: MacDonald 1946), 283pp. [Irish life among the Anglo-Irish gentry and rural population in Post-War period, border district; sarcastic toward Catholicism - Eucharistica Congressia is a character.]

British Library, Careless Lives (London: MacDonald [1945], 214pp.; Pardon My Return (London: MacDonald 1946); Angels Weep (London: T. Werner Laurie 1948), 268pp.; Flying Saucers have Landed, with George Adamski (London: T. Werner Laurie 1953), 233pp.; 13 plates.

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Notes
Punch-up: In Agnie Birnelle’s autobiography Savagery and Delight it emerges that Desmond punched Bernard Levin in consequence of the bad review the latter gave her show Savagery and Delight. Leslie had served the piece as sound-technician, setting his custom-built loudspeakers set below the stage and these failed to transmit any sound beyond the front rows. Desmond meanwhile had removed himself for a social engagement and was unable to rectify the matter. The episode led to the introduction of time-delays in British broadcasting.

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Swift’s say: ‘Here I am in Leslie Castle / With rooms of books upon the shelves / Written by the Leslies / All about themselves.’

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Dead secret: Sir John Leslie [on rumours that Paul McCartney is to wed Heather Mills at Castle Leslie, Glaslough, Co. Monaghan): ‘We are told vaguely it is next Tuesday like the papers say, but it is all a secret. I have to keep it dead secret, you know.’ (The Irish Times, 8 June 2002.) McCartney subsequently admitted before cameras that a private wedding was planned and this duly proceeded (ending in divorce in 2006).

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House contents: Following the death of Desmond Leslie, a sale of works of art in Castle Leslie was conducted by the auctioneers HOKeeffe, with notice of the building and its contents: Glaslough rebuilt 1870s by Sir John Leslie, 1st baronet and Lady Constance to a design by Sir Charles Lanyon and William Henry Lynn; sale incls. oval pastel ports. by Douglas Hamilton of Leigh Family of Rose Garland, Co. Wexford, Annabella Leslie having married Col. Robert Leigh in 1750; also Charles Jervas, port. of Mrs. Trevor, after Sir Peter Levy, formerly at Walpole’s Twickenham home.

Castle Leslie: A dg., Samantha, now runs Castle Leslie as an up-market private hotel [the alternative ‘Hidden Ireland’].

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