I noted before the wife of a tutor telling me the joy of coming back to Oxford for one’s second year, and she was certainly correct. The letters of this period record an almost ecstatic joy in the experience. This includes much that seems absurd, forty years later, but at the time nothing else in the world seemed of consequence. Even the very real turmoil in Ireland at the time, for instance, is seen through the prism of how it affected the Oxford Union.
But the range covered suggests why one might be forgiven for thinking all this was world enough. Politics and philosophy, music and literature explain why I was more sociable then than at any other time in my life.
6th November 1972
Very sorry again for the lengthy delay – life is just too complicated to communicate effectively. In fact, due to an essay crisis for tomorrow morning, I’m forced to abandon College bridge tonight after nearly falling asleep at a lecture in the morning and a class this afternoon – should, however, have some sort of freedom from work after tomorrow – for essentials like playing bridge and carpet bowls on the quad at 3 am and climbing on the roof and watching the lunacies of Labour Club Elections. I’m safe on Committee for another term, and encouraging freshmen at the Union so as to build up an effective Univ machine. I have a tellership on Thursday and I’ve already got my borrowed Dinner Jacket and am contemplating wearing a frog instead of a rose like my tutor at the dinner.. Incidentally, I start serving in Chapel in a few weeks time, while telling this time in favour of ‘Christianity is a Myth’ – my conscience salved by the fact that I was going to abstain if I spoke from the floor, instead of against. Auden was at dinner on Tuesday and we’re organizing an expedition to see him on Friday – I keep seeing him all over Oxford. Last Tuesday I fell asleep during a special lecture of Dr Popper – a famous German Philosopher who’s quite loony – yesterday the Dean tried to teach me squash and I kept missing the ball.
This week I had only one essay and I finished it yesterday – even though I am writing during a lecture I ought to have gone to, especially as I’d arranged to play someone at chess afterwards, but I only got to bed at 5, due to an importunate 3rd year consuming my coffee – and mangoes – having lost the key of his bicycle and preferring to work all night rather than walk back in the cold. Since we’ve taken to playing hide–and-seek through the college after 2 am, I’m not getting much sleep at all. Also, this morning I’d left all my essentials in the laundry so it was too late to get them in time for the lecture anyway – so I excuse myself, guiltily since it’s the only real one I go to now anyway. Incidentally, before the hide and seek, certain lunatics were pouring water from my windows onto passers-by in the High Street, only male students to salve our consciences. Continue reading