There is much more about home in the letters from my postgraduate days, in part because I had renewed contact with the family when I went home after my first degree, and in part because more people were coming over, my mother now being on the World Committee of the Girl Guides, which meant she was over every year. What is missing is accounts of my travels, in April a whirlwind tour of some places in Europe (including Vienna which I had not been to before) before joining my mother in Copenhagen where we stayed with our Danish friends and went also to their country house in Sweden.
And that summer I moved to a little village for what I still see as an idyllic time, hard work and convivial evenings with Paul, whom I have seen very rarely since but whom I still count as one of my best Oxford friends on the strength of those two months together. His step-brother was in fact hardly there, and we both enjoyed cooking very simple meals and venturing beforehand to the nearby pubs, including one which had no bar, but just two old ladies who took orders and went into a backroom and came back with foaming mugs of beer. ‘The Speckled Cow’ at Nettleford, I think it was called, but I suppose now that I will never be able to check.
25th February 1976
I trust the excitement of the wedding has subsided by now. It sounded great fun. We had our own excitement here when David Burgess got married last Tuesday to a girl he’s known for years but whom no one thought he’d marry. She turned up on Valentine’s day and he claims what finally decided him was her saying, ‘Come on, be a sport!’ He had to phone Leslie’s cottage, where I was that night, to get a bed for her in College, and as he sounded rushed we decided that he was being an Iris Murdoch character again – but nothing would ever change. You can imagine our and everyone’s astonishment at the news. He came back on Wednesday, after a night at the Ritz, from where he telephoned his parents – the wedding had been very quiet with only 3 friends and grandchildren – and we had lots of champagne and tried to take it in.
Last Thursday was the 1st Union hack party for six months, given the fears after Vivien’s conviction in Trinity. The recovering of times past was quite wonderful – though inflation has hit students so much that I can’t foresee a non-bring-a-bottle party in the future. Not like the good old days, when one pondered whether to go. I had some people round for dinner and bridge after – my first entertainment this term, having just caught up with what I missed in 1st week – and did very well. Unfortunately, it was only a penny a point and I only made 67 pence. Continue reading