The record of my last term as an undergraduate seems now bizarre, in the combination of a desperate desire to stay on at Oxford with little effort to prove myself academically. But I have no regrets at all about having had a great time till the end, much theatre and opera in addition to an intense social life. And as it happened Oxford turned up trumps without my having had to get a first.
I had been told that, if they thought you were worthwhile, they would keep you on, and this happened. As the record of my tutors’ comments over the years indicates, they did think I was extremely able. Though they despaired of my examination techniques, they worked together to find me a scholarship, since I had indicated that I did not think I could expect my father to fund me if there was no proof that I deserved to go on to postgraduate studies.
To my surprise my philosophy tutor’s wife told me that she had heard I had just missed a first class on my philosophy papers. Sadly my worst mark was on Roman history, which was my favourite subject, but after I left the hall I realized I had got something completely wrong on the first question, and that would have deprived me of any benefit of the doubt for the rest of the paper.
18th March 1975
I’m so sorry not to have written for so long – the time passes so quickly that one doesn’t notice, particularly, this last week, when getting to bed before 5 was a miracle. Despite, this, I won my bet of 4 breakfasts a week, but spent most of the rest of the day in bed, which was useless workwise. Nevertheless my philosophy tutor said my work had improved distinctly while George called it an excellent term’s work. ‘I shall miss him,’ he said. ‘So shall we all,’ said the Master – it was very comic but very sweet. Made up for not winning an office in the Union at my final attempt, and also for not being accepted by America despite my excellent marks – 97, 98 and 95 – it’s pleasant to know I’m as mathematically able as my sister, by American standards at least. My rejection from America was welcomed here – it’s quite touching the way even people in their present 1st year feel the place wouldn’t quite be the same without me. I am beginning to succumb, though to do a BPhil would require about a 1000 pounds more if I don’t get a Scholarship, and this just conceivably might be a waste. Meanwhile I have discovered a 1 year MA course in East Anglia which is both intellectually and financially suitable – the only trouble is it’s in East Anglia. Shall keep you informed, nevertheless. Continue reading