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There is only one more letter from that first term of my second year but then there is an effusion from the very beginning of the Christmas vacation, which I had decided to spend in College. The purpose was to study, for I had Honour Moderations the following term, but the dons who remained were incredibly kind and my social life was almost as active as it had been in term.

The pictures are of Lady Maud on the piano, in Eights Week at the river, and of Sir Peter Gretton who I now realize was just 60 when I spent Christmas with him, though he seemed so very old at the time.

From the city of aquatint 22

20th November 1972

I had a day off today, seeing Canon Keble in Fairford – persuaded a friend to drive me down – he was delighted with the day ultimately, so it didn’t matter. We got a super lunch and tea and a guided tour of a 16th century country church – typical country society ladies in attendance – the Canon and his wife have 3 cats and a dog and a rabbit that chase each other during lunch under the table – super!

The Labour Club Elections went along much as the Univ machine wanted them to

– even though its component parts were tugging in somewhat different directions. I wasn’t contesting as I was on E.C. for 2 terms automatically. Union elections next week and the machine grinds into action –  8 candidates – my next letter will be either extremely elated or extremely depressed!

Just had a visit from our principal freshman cog, to report on the latest details – terribly exciting.

Lady Maud had her music quiz last week – the Dean and I and two freshmen who knew even less than I did sat in a corner confusing each other and imitating schizophrenic cats – after which we plotted a take-over of the JCR – official blessing being unofficial, of course. After long heart-searching the Chaplain has decided not to travel to Ceylon over Christmas – not because of my serving last week, which went off rather well. We had a race down the aisle at the end!

On Thursday, the Union had Jack Lynch – and 35 policemen – and we had to be on guard from 4 pm till 11. It was great fun, even though no attacks took place – just a demonstration, with someone supposed to be Bernadette Devlin at its head – not a siege like last year.

I shall be staying over here for Christmas, working, though I’ll have to move into a centrally heated block as the water’s turned off here. It’s got rather cold but nothing uncomfortable except getting out of bed. Christmas lunch has been arranged with Peter Gretton, the well-known-mad-admiral.

9th December 1972

I’m just getting used myself to the idea of spending the Vac. working – not too hard though, encouraged by my collections. ‘Mr Wijesinha is very intelligent and subtle, and a delight to discuss politics with’ – thus my history tutor.   The Philosophy one was satisfied too, though he did add that my style was so subtle that perhaps no one could understand it – still, I’m happy.

The last two weeks have been very exciting – Labour Club elections went rather as planned and, with a little bit of judicious insistence. I have got the Editorship of the Club magazine next term. I already have plans to start a gossip column, about who’s slitting whose throat at the moment – a phenomenon that has already started to occur with regard to next term’s elections, when the whole Club hierarchy is determined to oppose the College candidate. Tickets have already started flying around, and I look forward to great excitement. Likewise in the Union, where I came top of the poll in the elections for Library Committee – the most senior of the junior committees – the Balliol psephologists had already predicted this, but it was still delightful.

Rajiva Wijesinha

October 2020
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