'Scandalously entertaining' seems to be the standard comment on these diaries, and I certainly wouldn't disagree. Orton is one of a select band of literary diarists whose works will be of enduring interest - that's because he gives us a complete picture of his life as he's living it, the trivia (making pots of tea, refusing derelicts in railway stations) gets equal space with the major events (receiving awards, appearing on television and ever-so-nearly becoming the Beatles' screenwriter). Bubbling along underneath all this is his fractious relationship with Kenneth Halliwell, whose gradual mental disintegration Orton seems aware of, without taking it as seriously as (we know know) he should have done. Taken all in all, this is as full a picture of London in the sixties as we're ever likely to get....and it's hard not to feel nostalgia for a world that has so totally vanished (Lyons Corner Houses, Late Night Line-Up, Olivier's National Theatre), even - or especially - if you're too young to remember that world at first hand.
Sadly, though, Orton's name once again has to be linked wtih that of his 'official biographer', that clueless fryer of cheeseburgers, John Lahr. If you've read Lahr's biography of Orton, you'll not need to trouble yourself with the thirty or so pages of hokum that precede the main meal here. You'd also do well to ignore Lahr's sappy footnotes, which will helpfully tell you who people like Samuel Johnson and Paul McCartney were/are.
This apart, this is essential reading for anyone interested in theatre in the sixties, the arts in the sixties, or life in the sixties, generally.