On Desmond McCarthy

Conversation was his art, and for him the tragedy was that he should have chosen so ephemeral a medium… he would turn up at Richmond for dinner, uninvited very probably, and probably committed to a dinner elsewhere, charm his way out of his social crimes on the telephone, talk enchantingly until the small hours, insist that he be called early so that he might attend to urgent business on the morrow, wake up a trifle late, dawdle somewhat over breakfast, find a passage in The Times to excite his ridicule, enter into a lively discussion of Ibsen, declare that he must be off, pick up a book which reminded him of something which, in short, would keep him talking until about 12.45, when he would have to ring up and charm the person who had been waiting in an office for him since 10, and at the same time deal with the complications arising from the fact that he had engaged himself to two different hostesses for lunch, and that it was now 1 o’clock and it would take forty minutes to get from Richmond to the West End. In all this Desmond had been practising his art –the art of conversation.
(Quentin Bell Virginia Woolf: a biography Vol 2, pg 82)