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Let's choose executors and talk of wills. So said Shakespeare's Richard II at the time of his defeat and approaching death.
It's perhaps a natural instinct - for those who have led a benign and fulfilled life as much as those who face an early, violent death - to put one's home in order and decide exactly what to pass on to the next generation. But here the trouble begins: does anyone really want, or deserve, your tarnished silver, those sporting prints, that four-seater sofa in the corner of the room, or indeed that portfolio of declining shares? Aren't there other bequests, of a more general nature, that might prove to be of greater value to your eager friends and relatives?
Pondering this question, John Mortimer reflects on the inheritance he received: a house and garden certainly, but something else for which he has been equally grateful - an approach to life and a view of our brief existence sus¬pended between two vast eternities.
In Where There's a Will he discusses the sort of things he would like to pass on in turn: the pleasures of drink and outdoor sex, though not necessarily together, the justification for the odd lie, the belief in one's ability to change one's life, the absolute necessity of causing offence on occasion, and a vision of god as The Grand Perhaps.
Drawing on his life as a barrister and writer - two occupations seemingly quite different yet both concerned with questions of truth and fiction, value and significance - John Mortimer offers an instructive, often comic, account of what a decent life might be, grounded on a number of principles: from the importance of questioning the views of the majority to the desirability of wearing the clothes of one's youth, even in old age. Where There's a Will is worldly-wise, never world-weary, wonderfully entertaining, occasionally outrageous and always thought-provoking.