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I won the election to be JCR President, largely I think because I had been very hospitable to the first years when they came in. But that was the high point of my political career, either at university or back at home. Certainly getting into Parliament was not as interesting or productive as that first early success was.

The pictures are of another occasion for triumph, the football match I mention, though these are in fact of the match the following year. It was extraordinary going through the group picture after ages, but being able to identify everyone by name, except for one person.

From the city of aquatint 27

From the President of the Junior Common RoomUniversity College

Oxford

12th February 1973

I just couldn’t resist showing off – after a strenuous and slightly bitter election, I am now a most important person, with a room in college next year and various other facilities, including the opportunity to organize dinner parties and football matches and other funny things, for the purpose of developing attitudes in the College. Life’s most enjoyable at the moment, what with a not unsuccessful speech at the Union – I’m afraid the review wasn’t too good though, so I’m not sending it – and Wilson at dinner this week, and the bridge dinner last week, and a birthday party last week where we played musical chairs with the Dean and drank the champagne one of my friends produced for my victory. He was so sure I’d win he’d bought it that morning, though I was quite depressed and had to be taken for walks round the meadows and fed orange juice and coffee and given varying and useless hints about a plan of campaign. Almost all my ticket got in, to the horror of the ultra–left, and after about 6 different types of drink that night I collapsed into bed at 4, and had to produce the Labour Club magazine next morning, for distribution that day – which I managed to do.

As part of the perks of the Presidency, I’ve got all sorts of parties with Vice-Chancellors and Proctors and things which is all very interesting, though you never actually get round to meeting the great man himself. Also, I’m supposed to chair JCR meetings, which promises to be a frightening job – however, the work’s going ahead rather well, though I have now conclusively decided that there’s no 1st available.

February 1973

Life’s been chaotic, with JCR work, and Exams, and running for Labour Club Secretary which I lost after a weakening of left wing credentials, I think deservedly. It was getting difficult to balance JCR & Labour Club views on the S.R.C. – the Central Students’ substitute for a Union which is run by Communists for the most part. Exams start next Wednesday and I’m trying frantically to catch up on lost time, but probably shan’t, especially as I’ve got 3 dinners in the next 4 days and other interesting activities. As a measure of my busyness, I haven’t played bridge for 3 weeks, and having achieved office I’ve decided that I’m really a very quiet person – it’s fascinating, though.

The Gooneratnes came over on Sunday and we went to see a Buddhist Centre set up near here in 23 acres of land, in the ex-house of the Earl of Abingdon which is grotesque but magnificent. ‘Torpids’ is on at the moment, the Hilary substitute for  Eights Week, and we’ve just gone up a place and come down again. Monday is the Dean vs. President’s football match, when people who’ve never played provide themselves with hours of amusement! Only hope I survive the cold. Do write soon and ask everyone else to.

Rajiva Wijesinha

October 2020
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