At the age of 94, Jack Swaab decided to place on record his recollections of a long and richly textured life. The result, ‘Slouching in the Undergrowth’ is a perceptive, engaging and sometimes alarmingly frank record of a life welllived.
The early chapters of the book open a window on a childhood passed in a very different world of trams, boarding schools and seaside holidays in the twenties and thirties.
Jack was sent down (rather messily) from Oxford in 1938, and spent the years before the outbreak of the Second World War living the louche life of an ‘off Fleet Street’ reporter. After a faltering start in the ranks, Jack’s war service was distinguished. Now reflecting on those times some sixty years on, he captures in vivid detail not only his own thoughts and feelings, but the life-changing experiences of many.
War ended, Jack made a career in the pioneering years of advertising. As a sharp-suited executive, he travelled much of the world, leading to some bizarre adventures and meetings with the rich, the famous and the simply eccentric.
Jack had married someone he describes as his ‘unique Canadian’ in 1948. At the millennium, his wife developed dementia and he became her principal carer until her death nine years later, having himself survived malaria, TB, angina and cancer.
By turns witty, unflinching and fascinating, Slouching in the Undergrowth is a marvellous overview of times both familiar and unknown, seen through the lens of an urbane and accomplished raconteur.
Jack Swaab was born on the Ides of March some 94 years ago. Raised in South-East London, he has travelled the world in wartime and peace, while his work-life has taken him from journalism to advertising, bookselling and dispensing racing tips – not to mention six distinguished years of service as a gunner officer with the 51st Highland Division.
Dimensions: 234 x 156 mm
Illustrations: 55 b/w photographs
For the last sixty years, home has been a small house in Wimbledon which he has shared with his family and a succession of cats.