This is the story of how one resourceful newspaperman got that most desirable of scoopsâ€”an interview with George Bernard Shaw himself. G. B. S. is the only celebrity who can outshout a cameraman and can yell the roughest of the newspaper boys out of countenanceâ€”and out of his room, when and if they ever contrive to get inside it, without his permission â€” as another correspondent, whose adventures also are described here, did. Unfortunately, the trick by which the correspondent got his G. B. S. interview cannot be repeated. The next reporter who gets his G. B. S. interview will have to try another trickâ€”and a better one.
Event number one: Scene, Jerusalem. G.B.S. attempted to conceal the name of the hotel where he was staying, for he was quite correctly informed that, relatively speaking, Jerusalem had more newspaper correspondents than any other well-known city. But a neat young man representing a South African paper took it into his head to interview the author. On the basis of weighty calculations he came to the conclusion that Shaw must be staying at a certain hotel. The porter knew nothing of G.B.S. A coin that glided into his hand refreshed his memory to such an extent, that he drew his face into sorrowful folds and declared that G.B.S. had already died. Another coin cheered him up a bit, so that he denied the report of the demise. Finally he betrayed, the fact that the person being sought occupied two rooms on the first floor, lunched at two and went out at four o’clock. The neat young man took the arithmatic mean and on the strike of three was on the first floor. He knocked at one of the two doors.
There was no sound. He knocked againâ€”in vain. When he knocked for the third time, he was rewarded with an answer. True, he could not distinguish as to whether it was positive or negative, but he walked in. The first thing he determined was that no human being had growled the unintelligible answer, but a dog about the size of a calf. The dog regarded the journalist with none too friendly a mien. The second thing the journalist realized was that the dog crouched before a divan. But that which lay upon the divan was unmistakably G. B. Shaw’s beard and something pink. Since the brain of a journalist functions rapidly, he recognized at once that he was really in the right room, for next to the beard slept the great G.B.S. dressed in wine-red pajamas.
The South African sank deeply into the visage presumably bared to but few contemporaries. The author suddenly opened his eyes. Like a flash this slight movement was relayed to the correspondent, who instantly set about introducing himself. He did not, however, get that far, for Shaw bellowed a not-at-all ###epy “Get Out!”
The journalist pretended to be deaf and delivered a speech the apex of which was a request for an interview.
Shaw’s reply was a second “Get Out!” which must have been intelligible to even a malevolently deaf mute. But the journalist, in the anguish of his heart, determined upon action and begged in childlike fashion for but one word. At which G.B.S. half rose and bellowed: “Yes, two in fact: clear out!”
The journalist did, indeed, write about the unique sight he had witnessed and described the wine-red night-sport-costume. But he received notice for not having had a camera with him.
The scene of the second incident was Cairo: Here too, the correspondents indulged in vain activity. Shaw remained invisible. On the second day of his stay he received a letter in which a nephew of Einstein who was just then visiting Cairo asked if he might present himself. Well, a blood relation of the great scientist is not to be treated like a journalist. So the writer replied in charming fashion, asking the nephew to lunch with him. The nephew, a neat young man, came, and it was a pleasant conversation for both, adding zest to the meal. But it seemed less satisfactory to Shaw, when on the morrow he found in one of the newspapers an interview with himself. The interview reproduced almost verbatim the conversation Shaw had had with the ostensible nephew of Einstein. The writer had spoken to the young man for a good hour without any idea that he was entertaining a resourceful journalist who had a splendid memory. Raging, he went to the newspaper office and kicked up a row. But suddenly, in the midst of the scandal, he broke off, his countenance calmed, his eyes sparkled as though they hid aphorisms ripe for the printer, and he spoke “I am ready to forgive this trick. But on one condition only.” The editor-in-chief nodded rapid assent and G.B.S. continued: “That you play the exact same trick upon Rudyard Kipling, who is coming here in a few days. As far as I am concerned, this time the nephew can be mine.”