So I made it 500 pages in to the Richard Burton Diaries. Obviously not the progress I was hoping for on the Boat, but things got in the way.
It is a delightful book. Especially when he is gratuitously nasty. Lucky me, he hates the same people I hate. His tirade on Lucille Ball was especially rewarding. A role is so easy that 'even Robert Shaw could play it'. A proud Welshman, he roots for West Germany over England in '66. He complains to the Duke and Duchess of Windsor about the 'grubby little queen', and notes that her uncle did not object.
He has a wonderful ability to self-reflect, and a massive vocabulary and ability to recite (and play off) poetry tucked away in his brain long ago. Since it's a diary, and written without an audience (although his wives were welcome to read it and make additions or whatever), it is largely without artiface. I can't say enough good things about it.
And the love story. Ye gods.
So rich. Knowing that it all has to end somehow (and soon) is a big disappointment. The struggle with booze is part of it, of course. At the part I'm at now, he's dry, and has been dry a number of times. Very soon it's all going to wreck everything. But for a man so conscious of his drinking and the need to control it, it's difficult reading. It truly is a disease, and outside of anyone's actual control, isn't it? (And lessons are being noted.)
But the love story -- yeah. There was one memorable section where (stay with me here) Liz comes down with a case of piles. Completely dehabilitating and agonzing. Richard writes of having to (stay with me) inspect her ass. He has a wonderful passage on doing so, and doing it in a completely non-sexual way, but purely out of love. He's married to one of the great beauties of the age, and here he is, doing this act out of love, and not even seeing the object before him in a sexual context at all. Of course, I'm not doing the passage any justice whatsoever.
Some dated bits, particularly regarding homosexuality, but... Yeah.
One lovely bit was when under the drink he criticized Liz' hands as being big and ugly. Liz responded that he would just have to get her a larger diamond to compensate for her big, ugly hands. "You'll pay for that, Richard", he says to himself.
Indeed you will, Richard. Indeed you will.