By the second term I was well into my stride with regard to work, helped by the fact that I was working this term on Byron, reading whom is one of life’s great pleasures. In these letters I refer more to friends, in part because my parents had by now met some of those I spent much time with, but also because my circle was now much smaller, since I was no longer in College with ready access to and for so many.
I did go away more often now in term, two or three times during this period to see Adrian who had been a great friend while an undergraduate, and to Leicester to see John Pike with whom I travelled recently in Cambodia and Laos and Indonesia, and to Winchester where my friend Richard was teaching (before also becoming a Civil Servant, with an A grade like Pat and others who stuck it out, though both of them left early).
I have a brief reference here to a social change at this period which was most interesting. For generations it had been thought an achievement to get into the Civil Service, and even the intake of what I term my Freshmen tried this. But in the end most of them ended up in the city, and financially have been much more successful than the more intellectually able of an earlier generation.
31 Rectory Road
15th December (1975)
I’m not in College to check my mail regularly. It’s an interesting experience staying on when there’s hardly any reason to go into town (10 minutes walk is a long way for the lazy) and I’m very well furnished here – I live on steak or black pudding or whatever and heaps of mushrooms which I doubt not I’ll soon be sick of. I went in yesterday to meet a few people and go to Evensong at the Cathedral (which was lovely – they sang Mozart’s ‘Lachrymosa illa dies’) but between Thursday evening and then I didn’t talk to anyone, except for two people who were in the neighbourhood and dropped in but whom I sent away as I was busy, having talked to them through the window. Very good for concentration, and I’ve got quite a bit to catch up after being away.
I had intended to go to Winchester for a few days last week, but didn’t due to confusion about lifts and ended up in Leicester for a day. The car broke down on the motorway on the way up, but my friend’s father owns a garage and (a bit like Thatha) two mechanics soon drove out and so did father who took us home. We spent the evening drinking a great deal of gin and arguing about capital punishment, the family vs the two visitors – I was thought bloodthirsty enough but the other’s a female Plymouth Brother who takes the Old Testament very literally, which upset the Pikes who are all liberals no end. They’re very nice though and I was sorry not to be able to accept an invitation to go to Turkey with them this Vac, but I had neither the time nor the money. We got back from Leicester on the Wednesday, and I slept for twenty hours, and failed to be organized in time to get to the opera on the Thursday – it was going to be ‘Salome’, in London.
I don’t know whether I mentioned last week that I served in the Cathedral last Sunday, and the Sacristan keeps introducing me as a Bishop’s nephew – mainly because he feels guilty about having me serve as I’m not a regular member of the congregation and the members of the Anglo-Catholic society are queueing up to serve. Ecclesiastics in the family do help! Continue reading