I wrote this letter in Cornwall where I stayed for three weeks, having taken Lamledra where I had gone on College Reading parties as an undergraduate and then organized my own when I was a graduate. I had a wonderful time, a few nights on my own, but with various friends dropping in for a few days.

The pictures are from a later visit, arranged when I was back in England by Lucy Wood, pictured here, who joined me during this stay. She loved the place so much that she arranged parties herself there over the years, and managed to have them coincide on several occasions with my visits to England. Then there is a classics contemporary of hers, Marie Louise Rossi, who was at this time in my old room in Norham Gardens. She shared the flat with her good friend John Harrison who is in the next picture along with Dave Rampersad, the founder of the Piers Gaveston Society, who inveigled me into being its Senior Member. He and John came along to one of my degree ceremonies, I think the BPhil, which must have been in 1978. +

Lamledra, Gorran Haven

Mevagissey, Cornwell

3rd February 1979

Arrived here yesterday, and will be here for the next three weeks, armed with various books, several friends coming and going at intervals, so I shall be absolutely alone for just 2 days. Do write, there’s been nothing from you so far – though since Sanjiva seems to be as bad as you at phoning abroad, news does tend to percolate through.

After Windsor and the Ministry of Defence, then 2 nights with a friend in the Foreign Office, during the last few days of which I saw heaps of old friends and absorbed quantities of culture – and played lots of bridge – I got back to Oxford on the Tuesday, finished all Trollope’s fiction, went into the Union and found it fascinating again so it’s a good thing I’m here now. Seeing Chanaka as an officer gave me a great thrill of joy, even though I do in theory think patriotism irrational.

I had dinner on Monday with Aruna, after a play, and she seems quite settled about returning – though uncertain about quite when or for whom she’s going to work –   Tilak, I think, stays.

In Oxford I also found various satisfactory notifications. One was of my examiners, one of whom taught me 3 years ago and, I think, liked my style though the other is meant to be a toughie; and another from the Home Office, removing my restrictions. This also means I can travel if my viva occurs very early, or late enough to make a week off a possibility. The likelihood, however, still remains the beginning of March.

Just had to abandon the letter for an emergency, the car not starting to pick up 2 arrivals at the station – latest news, it did start, but after we’d phoned the station to tell them to take a taxi, our pushing not being adequate to get it up a steep hill; in fact, it wasn’t that the battery was dead, but that wires were loose – another sad sense of waste! 

I have taken to reading Joyce Cary and Kipling in preparation for my lectures, in between reading relevant 19th Century stuff. Do you by any chance know when exactly term begins? – but don’t find out by ringing Halpe! I assume there’ll be time enough to write lectures if and when I get the degree. I suspect I shan’t get to America because it costs in fact twice as much as I first thought it did, which makes it not worthwhile for a brief period – tell Seelia I shall write apologetically to Shan. Instead, I may spend a week in Paris. Christine’s left Lloyd’s and moved to London, but Andrew’s taken over her flat.

The continuation of the letter from Windsor Castle records my attempt to persuade my mother to allow my cousin to come over to help my brother and his wife look after their newborn son. This was successful, though my mother proved wiser than us for she had I think understood that they would not be pleasant to the girl.

And Windsor Castle was of course great fun, as London was afterwards.

The pictures are of the Ministry of Defence in London and its roof where the Resident Clerks would have parties, and then of a dog monument in Windsor Park. This does not seem at all indecent but doubtless others were.

February 1979 (cont)

Talking of which, since Sanjiva and Chitra are determined to keep the baby on, you might reconsider the despatch of Theja – that is, if she’s willing. My own fear was simply that it might seem a making use of her. Correspondingly, unless on a salaried basis, which of course is out of the question, anyone except an extremely close relation would be disastrous, since tensions of responsibility and interference are bound to spring up – one can note them, if only incipiently due to the extremely generous natures of all involved, with regard to Kate & the nanny here. Theja is of the right age to minimize all that, as well as subject enough, to put it crudely, to be withdrawn if difficulty arises. You must remember that Sanjiva and Chitra are much more sensitive and self–conscious about identity then you might have been. I think you’re wrong about her not being responsible enough, and in any case the restrictions she would be under physically would take her over the initial period – at least 6 months!

David is extremely busy with a course for middle-aged clergy, designed to refresh and enlighten them by spiritual discussions and practical projects such as inspection of the BBC, Parliament, the Daily Mirror, etc. It’s all very Trollope and Barchester in the Close here, with vague Minor Canons and choir boys who lock each other up so that the Dean gets flummoxed in front of Margaret, and Lay Clerks who want to start families but don’t have enough – to say nothing of the further world of the castle, with guardsmen arrested for pilfering, and the Privy Purse engaged in mortal combat with the Department of the Environment. We walked through the Home Park the other day, and saw Queen Victoria’s monuments to her dogs, which are indecent, and the park in confusion where Anne has to practice riding – all very eccentric, with planes from Heathrow thundering over endlessly.

I depart tomorrow for London – to stay at the Ministry of Defence. I suspect, if I get my Doctorate, that Ceylon could have no more effective High Commissioner here in ten years time. Then, after opera, theatre, bridge and the Temple, this last to keep Thatha happy in that, though I don’t like the law, I do like the dinners, especially as a guest, I get back to Oxford at the end of the month, to prepare for Cornwall. I should have an idea by then when my viva would be. I have just finished an American book on Trollope which is much inferior to my own – so keep hoping.

A section of the introduction to this set of letters, omitted in the last post, explains what happened to extend my stay.

I asked for an early viva when I handed in my thesis, but that did not materialize, because one of my examiners fell ill. But I had a lovely time, beginning with a stay at Windsor Castle where my chaplain, David Burgess, had become a Canon (as noted previously, when I helped him move in and went for the installation) and then at Lamledra, which I took for three wonderful weeks. One friend dropped me there, and others came down for brief periods, but I even enjoyed the few days I had entirely to myself there.

The pictures are of the Oxford and Cambridge Club in London where I was to spend much time, this year and in the years that followed, and of the long forgotten Roddy Llewellyn, whose affair with Princess Margaret seems to have been a high point for both of them.

January 10th 1979 (cont)

On Saturday I went down to London to dine with various people at the Oxford and Cambridge Club, and spent the afternoon, in the absence of Opera, – which I shall miss, but I did manage to get tickets for later in the month – at the cinema and the theatre. On Sunday, after taking Raki round all day, I had dinner with Leslie after evensong and a lengthy gossip as we hadn’t met yet – he’s surviving quite happily in his solitude, despairing of the new chaplain as he’s ‘a trifle enthusiastic’ but not daring to say so as Gwynne is very pro and wants them to run reading parties together!

As you can see, it’s very easy to slip back into it all – but I still remain enthusiastic about my return, and hope it will be by April. Do thank everyone else who helped me to have such a super time, especially Lakshmi and Dennis and Sharya – with the best intentions in the world I shan’t write to everyone. I have handed in the films but they’ve not been returned yet – I shall try to get the Guide ones back as soon as possible.

Anila has been running round seeing everyone, just like Mum, but is looking very well – so is the baby, who’s exactly like Thatha! 

Windsor Castle

– but, as from, for replies, Corpus Christ

Am nearly at the end up a splendid week here, very peaceful and quiet, except for the arrival of Princess Margaret at Church on Sunday accompanied by Roddy whom I hardly noticed as I was determined not to stare. And, alas, we sat at either end of the same row so I couldn’t contemplate. I’ve been for lots of other services in addition, at civilized times like 11.45 and 5pm, which I trust makes up for all those I missed at home. I get up around noon, having read late, since I don’t really get very much done during the day due to walking, talking, drinking, and playing with the baby. I think, with Rollo & Shivantha only to go on though, that I’m quite good with babies though essentially at intervals. I’d make an appalling father, since a permanent infant would make me most impatient, and what ought to be the compensation, the pride of creation and, I suppose, ownership, I don’t think a particularly worthy emotion. I can, however, see the force of the temptation, and may even succumb in time.

As my introduction to this set of letters shows, I was back soon enough. Oddly enough I have been talking about matters relating to this post both on the literary blog and on the Esme Trust Facebook page in the last week. On the former I talk in the Sunday ‘Places where I read’ about my stay on the way back to Sri Lanka in Bangkok, a sybaritic few days when I read much in the laid back bungalow of my friend Robert Scoble. On the Esme Trust page I take about my cousin Theja, who stayed with us after she got back from England, where she went as described here.

The pictures are from that stay, the swimming pool, the lookout from the drawing room and the fabulous read sports car, and then of Theja from later days.

A false departure

I did finally leave in October, leaving Oxford exactly seven years after I had got there. But though I did not then, and do not now, regret the decision to leave, I also hankered for more. So I wrote up the thesis very hastily, and was back again in January to submit. Thankfully the effort to send me to France did not succeed, and as my comments on the Inter-Parliamentary Union meetings to which I accompanied my father indicate, I was not very impressed by international political gatherings in general.

I had a wonderful trip back, joining my parents on the American University ship which they had served as Interport Lecturers for well over a decade, a position I took over a few years later, in addition to teaching two full voyages. And Colombo was marvelous, with a hectic social life in the midst of which I did, if not very carefully, conclude my thesis.

I had a wonderful time back at home too as the beginning of the first letter after I got back in January indicated.

One positive consequence of my getting back early was that I persuaded my mother to agree to my cousin Theja coming to England to help look after my brother’s baby. My father as usual had thought of a win-win situation for everyone, since he wanted Theja also to qualify – which she did in the field of nursing. My mother however I think understood that tensions might develop, which indeed happened, but I think my having to stay on helped Theja to cope. And she has been a rock of support to Lakmahal over the years, to my mother and then my father and now to me.

Corpus Christi

Jan 10th 1979

Absurd as it might be to thank one’s parents for a sojourn, I think I must since I enjoyed myself so very, very much. It was delightful being indulged as, I think, never before – let us only hope the idyll was productive too. I have not yet handed in my thesis as my supervisor wasn’t in, but we meet tomorrow and I hand it in immediately after, Anila having parcelled it. The Board meets on the 22nd, and I should know then who my examiners are, and roughly when the viva will be – I trust before the end of February. Meanwhile, I am already more than half-way through the Trollope novels I omitted – this despite vast quantities of reunions that have kept all my evenings, and most lunch times, occupied. Yesterday I went to the theatre with Leslie, Gwynne and the Asst College Secretary, Vanessa, all of whom assured me of looking forward to Sanjiva’s entry – which Gwynne, of course, has looked after with her usual efficiency. Convey if possible to Asitha Perera that she also got his name into the pool – he didn’t get into Univ, not because his papers were late nor indeed because he wasn’t very good – Leslie was quite impressed – but because we had a very good entry this year. Anyway, at the time of writing, there’s still hope of another college.

The card that begins this extract refers to my having joined my father in Bonn earlier this month for an Inter-Parliamentary Union Conference. I had found that very boring, escaping on a couple of days to Cologne which was much more fun. And then I have my last letter before I left Oxford on the 6th of October.

For this last post before I left Oxford – though I was back soon enough – I have three pictures of myself gowned, the Exhibitioner’s gown, the BPhil I think, and then the DPhil which was much later.

Oxford

17th September 1978

Gather you’re safely back after all the chaos in Iran – hope you got my P.C. thither, announcing my imminent arrival in Singapore to join you on the ship. Bonn was fun, though even more disillusioning than I’d expected – if that’s not a contradiction in terms. Don’t work too hard and do look after yourself.

Corpus Christi

4th October 1978

Everyone’s being so very, very nice I shall be absolutely enormous by the time I return – and quite miserable. I don’t really regret the decision to return, though I wish I’d been able to finish – however, I couldn’t possibly have stayed on any longer, though I suspect I ought to return and submit as soon as I can, instead of finishing it at leisure as I’d contemplated doing.

Ira has arrived and is settled safe and sound, though I don’t think enamoured of the cold too much. I’ve asked her as well as Sanjiva & Chitra to my farewell party on Friday, and I hope she won’t be too disillusioned by the sight of drunken dons and indeed students. I shall leave that very evening for Windsor to stay with David and Kate and fly to Bangkok the next morning. I fly on the 18th morning to Singapore, let me know if that’s too late for the ship so I could change the date.

I hope Gaj is settling down, it was very sad seeing him go – I’m glad I wasn’t around when he actually had to leave Univ, just as I hope I shall be quite drunk on Friday. Ironically, the college is having a feast on that day with Harold Wilson et al, so my guests have to be on their honour to behave impeccably – of course they won’t. I suspect, despite ruthless cutting, that I’ve asked too many for the size of the room (Bostar Hall, as for you last year), and rashly last Friday at my party in London for those who’ve moved on (which was an absolute joy, as I hadn’t seen quite so many old friends from so many years together for so long), I mentioned the coming ‘do’ to those who expressed regrets about Univ – and I expect about ½ a dozen of them armed with bottles of gin, which I declared statutory.

I console myself with the thought that I shall be back, but I suppose I must accept that in fact a rather splendid period has come to an end – hence, of course, the dramatics of leaving exactly seven years after I arrived. I’m so glad I didn’t have to go off to Paris half way through last month – or even the month before; though I suspect this indicates much less ambition than I ought to have – though as to that, the tedious orations at the IPU were a helpful warning which not even the splendour of the parties could overcome. I suspect the CPA where people know each other more is better fun, but on the whole international diplomacy doesn’t seem particularly rewarding – is International Girl Guiding?

These letters indicate a readiness to leave, and though I did work at references and so on, I did not concentrate as much as I should have done.

The picture is one of my Ministry of Defence friends in unfamiliar guise early on at Oxford.

11th August 1978 (cont)

Enid & Glenville were here on the Saturday, armed with delicious lamprais, and Ranil de Silva was here for the weekend too, so we had a very pleasant drive into the country on Saturday. On the Thursday I took Aachchi to Tom Parker’s and I think she and he and the two old ladies he lives with had a delightful time regretting the modern age. I’d been the previous day to arrange the meeting and Tom showed me his birthday book with Poonch’s name in it – the book he claimed dated from 1914. I also showed Aachchi Somerville which she was very keen about, and I think Shaistha wants to show her Anila’s room when she’s next here. Leslie wanted to take her on High Table, but I think that’ll be a little complicated.

I hope you’ll be able to send the things I asked for in my last letter – one or two small batik wall-hangings and sandalwood carvings to hang on walls may be in order too, as friends appear to be marrying these days. Three of them I think you’d met in 1972 turned up the weekend before last on the grounds that, since they thought then I was leaving in September and they’re all off to America this month at various times on Ministry of Defence work, it would be the last time we’d all be together in Oxford – which made for a most enjoyable if riotous time. I feel rather a fraud having said good- bye to so many people who’ll be back at the beginning of October when I’ve still got to be here! Had All Souls been the week before I might almost have been tempted to do it again, even without the prospect of the dinner.

I must get this letter to the post in ten minutes, and then potter off on a social call which I’ve refrained from for the last few days – Lucy, who got concussed in Ireland, having just got back from France. I shall so bore you all with my home movies when I return. Do write, and the more frequently as Thatha seems to have given up.

Corpus Christ College

30th August 1978

(To Iran)

A quick note while in the midst of packing, checking references et al – I shall be returning via Bangkok and Singapore, joining you on the ship for the 19th. Thatha’s resting here without any disturbances, and I go with him to Bonn on Monday for 10 days. Thanks for all the stuff you sent which is exactly as wanted. Hope the conference goes well and that the country’s quieter now. Anila rang up yesterday. Aachchi’s in Kent now but returns on Saturday to be taken up to Stratford, at the beginning of her long trek to the North.

This extract records my finally concluding the draft of my thesis, in the midst of much other activity. The pictures are of Dr Hayman, legendary founder of S. Thomas’ Gurutalawa, and his wife; and of Jane Shilling who was an exemplary tenant at Norham Gardens and subsequently became a celebrated journalist.

25th July (cont)

I haven’t seen Aachchi since the first time since last weekend was too confused but I’ve phoned and she seems at the moment to be enjoying herself thoroughly in Bournemouth with the Haymans, who are also taking her to London on the 27th – I’d arranged to go myself, but they’re obviously keen to do the utmost in hospitality, so I shan’t see her now till the 31st, when I bring her up to Oxford. Leslie’s determined to take her on to High Table, and I might try to organize some bridge here for them which would probably please her more – though I’ve got a female sub-tenant now, Bruce having moved off to London with a job at last, which may perhaps upset her! 

11th August 1978

I had hoped to hear from the French Embassy here before writing but today seems the latest if I’m to catch you before Teheran; and a good day to write since by the end of the day I should have finished my draft – and the prospect of being able to stop thinking creatively for some time comes as an enormous relief. Of course there’s the standardization of references to be done but that’s no strain – and though the rewriting may be, that’s in the future and by no means so intense. It will doubtless be a relief to you both that I shall now cease making cryptic references to chapters – any more details would I felt have been incomprehensible, while any fewer wouldn’t have given you the slightest idea what I was about. Cockshut was very nice about the previous chapter when I saw him last week and even thinks he doesn’t need to see this, unless I want him to.

I hope Thatha isn’t worrying too much about me, or indeed indulging in unnecessary and unhealthy regrets. I have phoned the French Embassy here and they know nothing – since their original letter wanted me there on August 14th, this must mean I’ve failed the test and so the matter has been dropped. I did my best – but I suppose Thatha finds it hard to understand a sense of purpose so very different from his own.

The last two weeks have been chaotic as you can imagine, what with transporting Aachchi and seeing as much of her as I could while she was here, while also keeping to my work schedule. I have just now finished which is so satisfactory! I suppose this means I will have some of September free after the references have been done, but I suppose I’d better have some time free for when Thatha is here – though I gather he doesn’t want me to come to Bonn now. Aachchi’s programme for September only involves, I believe, 4 days travel for me, though I think she wants me to stay with her at Ripon. I’m afraid I have to miss the service at Canterbury because I have to fetch her  on the 16th, and it would be silly to go twice, while to stay would I think impose and would also keep me from the Bodleian. I’ve hardly been in there since I had to do all that extra research last vacation, and I’m rather looking forward to the familiar vacation atmosphere in the large empty rooms.

From a city of aquatint 103

The saga of the French embassy attachment continues here. More interesting was helping my chaplain David Burgess move to Windsor Castle and then attending his installation as a Canon at the Chapel there.

14th July

Just after you phoned this morning, a letter from the French Embassy here arrived asking me to contact them for a test etc. and informing me that I would have to present myself on the 14th of August in Paris. This makes more sense linguistically, as it seems to indicate a crash course; I shall respond to the letter and see what the actual situation is, but if you’ve told the French Embassy already or anyone else that I’ve withdrawn, please keep it that way. I am curious enough about the whole business to investigate further at this end, and will indeed send the forms by Hope, filled honestly if unconvincingly – but I am concerned enough about my thesis not to want any pressures applied by interested sources that will make me feel obliged to give it up. If the Embassy here thrusts it upon me in a totally convincing manner themselves, I will then feel it a waste not to take it – but I am hoping it won’t happen, so that any further efforts on your part would be misplaced. You mustn’t think that, because I am very confused about it all, I’m not grateful.  Of course I am and I appreciate all your worries. It’s just that one has to have priorities, even if they’re not very clear.

25th July 1978

I enclose the Medical Certificates – collected yesterday after rather annoying waits for doctors since the silly idiots at the Radcliffe seem to have punctured an artery in the course of the Blood Test; the X-Ray too cost 7 pounds 50, in spite of all of which I still pray to have failed the French Test. David (Burgess) et al are all convinced of the importance of finishing the thesis without so long an interruption – as I said in my last letter the 3 months at the UN could just about be spared, but anything further could well have unacceptable consequences. I gather, having heard from your express letter of last week to Sanjiva which has just arrived, that you credit me with making my mind up too firmly; too easy a generalization that, I regret to say.

I got back to Oxford on Monday, after a glorious ordination of an old friend at Westminster Cathedral by the Cardinal, and an absurd French Test at the Embassy, followed by a chance meeting with the Hitchcock girls which led me to Thilaka who was staying at the Intercontinental – a delightful meeting, after 7 years, with one of the few steady and heartening senders of birthday cards through all that time. Began work on Ch. 7 on the Tuesday, and have been doing rather well since; despite very splendid interruptions, such as helping David move to Windsor, a Guest Night at Univ where, albeit a last minute replacement, I was one with the Vice-Chancellor and the ex-Warden of All Souls – and the Installation itself which it was a great privilege to be asked to, and the more gratifyingly as the seat reserved for me was one that belonged to the Knights of the Garter – my predecessors in its occupancy having included Asquith and Baldwin. It was a super ceremony with a lovely reception after, and yesterday David & Kate came to dinner, again very moving as it was their last night officially at Oxford. Incidentally, amongst the valuables we transported last week, not entrusted to the removal men, was the Ceylonese silver tray!

Despite the indication in the previous letter that I thought my father’s efforts to have me attached to our Embassy in Paris had failed, he was back at it. I fear my irritation at all this comes through in this letter though I had to appreciate his great efforts to ensure a satisfying career for me.

This letter also notes the continuing saga of my grandmother’s trip to England. She enjoyed it and I wonder too now at my mother’s enormous thoughtfulness in arranging this at about the last time it could have been managed.

The picture is of the Ely Theological College near Cambridge where my uncle Lakshman and Paul Bowen were together in the early fifties.

12th July 1978

I’m afraid I shall most probably have to refuse Paris, if only because I shall not have completed the thesis by September, and nine months away from it would be too long. The forms have not arrived yet, but I thought it best to let you know as early as possible – doubtless your ingenuity will succeed in turning the refusal to advantage! Many thanks for your previous letter with all its plans most of which seem very good, the UN one especially, I suppose, since you appear determined to stop me from coming home in the near future. Is there any particular reason for this, except General Ambition? 

I was down  in London yesterday and saw Aachchi at the Bowens where she seemed very happy – was going to Frankie’s for 3 days, and has a full programme planned for the next two months which fortunately doesn’t require too much or too complicated  transportation. Indrani, Ranjini and Enid had, I gathered, looked after her extremely well and thoughtfully, which I hope made up for our absence. Chitra got through the LRCP, as  doubtless you’ve heard, and I had an absolutely glorious time in Ireland – despite the water giving out for a week, the gas for a day, and the donkey regularly escaping. One of the girls was concussed walking on a mountain, and the local hospital wanted to keep her under observation for a fortnight but she succeeded in discharging herself and flying back with her mother who’s a don at Oxford and flew to the rescue. I went on two very (over 3 + 6 hours respectively) long walks and made a film which I shall presumably often inflict on you. We got back on the Monday just before noon, extremely exhausted after having traveled for nearly 48 hours, due to the remoteness of the place and the awkward train and ferry times.

In addition to spending the afternoon yesterday at the Bowens – and getting my passport renewed – you will be delighted to hear that I dined yesterday at the Middle Temple on a guest night with a friend who’s just done Bar Finals and has got a job as Clerk to a Magistrate’s Court. It was a very pleasant and indeed very alcoholic evening, though not entirely my sort of thing – I think the contrasts with a College too apparent, in the lack of cohesion; not of course that that’s a reason for not joining the Temple! – but I still have no intention of succumbing to the charming letters that all the  inns have been sending me. 

I have here the last section of the introduction in the published letters, and then talk about how life wound down in what I thought was my last term in Oxford. The pictures are of Ahakista, including Paul and me waiting for the bus at the end, after the rest had left.

I mention here our holiday in Ireland, a party I had arranged in emulation of the great times I had had at Cornwall and at the Chalet. In fact I had had two parties at Lamledra over the Christmas vacations of my 6th and 7th years, Jennifer Hart having obligingly allowed me to rent the place. I took my sister on one of these, and she seemed to enjoy it very much. Ireland was an even greater challenge, given the difficulties of getting there and the primitive nature of the cottage we took but we all had a wonderful time.

17th June (cont)

Bruce has a job at last, actuarying, and so has Ian with the Hong Kong Civil Service, which means he’ll be dropping in on us fairly soon. So I think will Gillian Peele, the don at LMH Mum met in ’75, who knows the Lidderdales and Howard Wriggins. Vivien’s going to Australia on a Debating Tour which ought to be a great triumph if she doesn’t get migraines – hopes to drop in on Robert Scoble in Bangkok which will be extraordinary.

The flat is in the most awful state at the moment as our cleaning operations seem to be ineffectual against constant waves of alcohol, sleeplessness, film festivals, and vast numbers of people, who’ve finished Bar Exams in London, or Cambridge, or simply come up to vote, staying – enormously exciting, which makes leaving all too sad, but having read the lesson at evensong on the last Sunday I can’t not now, incomprehensibly, as I was hoarse after shouting at elections, and breathless having been late, but it is a great tradition! 

24th June 1978

I leave for Ireland tomorrow, after Leslie and David’s valedictory party, and return on the 6th of July. Mum’s letter of the 15th arrived today, but no further news about Aachchi.

Chapter 6 was finished on Tuesday which was an enormous relief as it had rather dragged on, and I’ve spent the last few days relatively desultorily, unable to start anything new until after a rest, but not really having any more relevant reading to do. I’ve started reading Wilson on Rudyard Kipling, which you’d probably like, also Cawkwell on Philip of Macedon, which I would have sent had I not lent my copy and not had it back yet; I shall bring both back, of course. I note you haven’t written for ages, and I hope this isn’t because you’re piqued – I gathered from Sanjiva that at one stage you thought I took no notice of your suggestions simply because they were yours – which of course on consideration you must realize isn’t the case, Paris being an obvious example. It’s just a pity that Hameed didn’t read the small print when he made the suggestion, but there’s no point regretting anything. It would, I think, be a mistake to disturb my present contentment with the prospect as I have sketched it out already – and, inductively, you must give me the credit of knowing what I’m at.

David’s son is to be christened on 8th July, with Leslie as godfather, preparatory to the flit to Windsor. Kate’s in splendid form and has lost all signs of the pregnancy. Chitra has begun to show signs.

Rajiva Wijesinha

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