You don't even know what sophisticatedmeans!

My mother turned on me sharply. I should repeat that she was twenty-one when I was born. I have never been much younger than her and she has never been much older than me. Another school run: Swansea, in the late Fifties.

— Ooh I do know what sophisticated means!

No you don't. Not what it really means.

— Yes I do.

— Go on then. What does it mean?

I now see my mother's profiled face, lightly frowning in concentration as she listed some of the more attractive attributes that went hand in hand with being sophisticated - all of them worth the aspiration of a bashful country-girl from Berkshire. I said,

— That's not what it really means.

— All right then. What does it really mean?


My mother was innocent. Then experience came, and she experienced it. And then she got her innocence back again. I have always wondered how she did that.


Martin Amis

in Experience  p.106

Vintage Books, London

© Martin Amis  2000




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