(Gaudy: a feast for the alumni held at Oxbridge colleges)
Saturday 2 October 1982
At home Tig woke me up at 8 for breakfast of bacon and tomato. Tiggy came with me when I walked Fido up the lane. I set off in the Panda at 8.45 (I had already loaded my luggage last night). My first stop was at Peddars Way on the A11 to give Fido another run. I had a magnifier lamp to drop off on Mr Whitmore in Newmarket. He had ordered it last week. I found the address quite easily but he wasn’t in so I left again with the lamp, which I will have to post later.
It was raining all the way, getting worse if anything as I went west. The next stop was in Buckingham, but only because of a traffic hold-up. I ate my lunch as we (Fido and I) drove along. I got to Oxford at 1.30 and was able to park near Keble, but the Bodleian was shut, so I went to Blackwell’s instead. In their secondhand department I got the supplement to the four volume Royal Horticultural Society dictionary; I had been looking for this for ages. It cost me £12. I also bought a record of the Cambridge Buskers.
In Walton Street I went to buy a can of lemonade and lost my car key – but found it again. I took Fido for a walk across Port Meadow which we both enjoyed despite the rain. However I got very wet. So did Fido but his coat is fairly waterproof.
It was time to go to College; there I met Andy Parkes for tea in the Junior Common Room; David Kay, Peter Lee-Wright, Martin Leeburn and several others whom I don’t remember so well were there as well. (Andy Parkes and Peter Lee-Wright were part of the 1968 intake of historians along with me. Peter was JCR President in 1970.) Next I got Andy to drive me back to my car which I had parked on the far side of Folly Bridge. I found a spot where I could leave the car near Nuffield College. I fed Fido in the car which was unusual for him and he wouldn’t eat it at first, but I left the bowl on my seat and he ate it in the end. Then back to college to get changed and had sherry in the JCR (Junior Common Room) before dinner.
Andy and I were seated on either side of Henry Mayr Harting. Opposite was Martin Leeburn. He is a news editor for the BBC; he got himself sent to Argentina as a reporter because he felt the reporting from there was so bad. He is a Spanish speaker with an Irish passport, so he was ideal for the part. (The Falklands War had broken out in the summer of 1982.)
Henry showed Peter, Andy and me round the library extension. Ken Loach gave an entertaining speech, low-key but amusing. (My readers will know Ken Loach as the Director of such films as Looking for Eric starring Eric Cantona. Back in the 60s he directed such BBC plays as Cathy Come Home and Up the Junction. During my time at Oxford he was memorable for the film Kes. He is an old St Peter’s College man but older than me; a contemporary of my sister Christine.)
The drinks in the buttery were all free and I chatted till past 1 o’clock.
Sunday; it was misty at first, then sunny. I spent the night in college and was wokenat 8. I walked Fido along the canal off Park End Street and then back to have breakfast in Hall with Andy. Had the full works, bacon, egg, sausage and tomato, followed by toast and marmalade. Andy and I walked round town until 11 when we parted. As a farewell gift Andy gave me a book on Bishop Chavasse (founder in 1929 of St Peter’s Hall as it then was; it is now St Peter’s College). Andy invited me to go back via Warwick but I declined. It was still quite foggy as Fido and I left Oxford. I stopped outside Buckingham to give Fido a walk, but he spent most of the time sitting on the grass scratching. (I heard the Two o’clock News and Martin Leeburn was credited with the edition. Surely he hadn’t been at work that morning!)
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