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This records a wonderful summer, though I note my disillusionment with politics and also how very happy I was in an almost empty College. But this was in part because of the continuing hospitality of the dons.

Sadly there is just the one letter surviving of that very full term. A taste of the relentless activity I engaged in is presented in the penultimate paragraph here.

There is no mention therefore of another of my entertaining wheezes, a music performance on May Morning from the top of the Radcliffe Tower outside my rooms. The Magdalen choiristers were famous for greeting the morn from their tower but we caught the crowds returning with bagpipes and a recording of ‘Land of Hope and Glory’ and balloons thrown to them.

There were no repercussions, understandably because I had got the Dean and Chaplain involved, and the latter gave us oysters and Black Velvet in his rooms afterwards.

The last two pictures are of Morar Lucas whom I took to lunch in 2017 when I visited a number of friends in the West Country of England. Her husband, the famous philosopher John Lucas, was in hospital, but he recovered, and only passed away earlier this year. She was the soul of kindness, to both my sister and me, having worked with my uncle Lakshman when he was a curate in the East End of London.

From the city of aquatint 29

4th April 1973

I must confess my own determination to come back has weakened slightly and, my results having just come out today, with a 2nd, I’ve decided in any case to do a postgraduate somewhere before returning, though unfortunately I probably shan’t be able to do it here. Five of us here got 2nds, though the sixth failed completely, which is a bit upsetting. 

Having spent days at Clara’s, I came here last week partly to finish my work as I shall have to be free in London for Thatha, partly because I can’t bear to be away from here. I had various people around last week, including Aruna, and this week the Opera twice, once with the only Don left in College, and yesterday I found myself next to the Junior Dean and his wife who’ve asked me for dinner tomorrow. But even the weekend, when I was practically alone in College except for the barman in the Beer Cellar, was marvelous. I hope I have the energy to escape from Oxford next summer.

The Dean and Chaplain return tonight from the Schools’ men reading party to Cornwall, and I hope to get them to lunch to meet Thatha at Pam’s – I hope they’ll be satisfied with the 2nd – my tutor seemed delighted.

This morning I spent at the Union and, being now trusted by the Higher Echelons, witnessed the opening of the President’s correspondence, and subsequent resealing – done at Balliol, of course – which was fascinating, but quite disillusioning, as there were the Senior Members of our side which considers the other dishonest. I think I shall find the Union elections fun next term, but I can’t quite see myself fitting into one side or the other sufficiently dedicatedly enough to get very high.

1st June 1973

I’ve got time today between a play in Magdalen Deer Park, produced by Univ. mainly – I feel quite powerful, because as I went in the Producer said he’d left his accounts for me, as though what the JCR gave them depended on what the play seemed like tonight! – and the late night film ‘Who’s afraid of Virginia Woolf?’ with a Leslie charabanc.

After half an hour at S.R.C. – the Central Students Union which is the preserve of the horrid left and where my identification with conservatism has led to trouble with the Labour Club – I spent the afternoon on the river, where Univ. is slowly but surely going down in the Eights Week races. I had to play patience with the Captain of Boats last week and tell him it wasn’t his fault – it was quite melancholy, but the refreshments were good today and the 1st VIII wasn’t bumped. Unfortunately my program of work this morning was ruined by the Choir Conductor’s champagne to celebrate his retirement, due to a tiff with Lady Maud over a Victorian evening, which is a very complicated story. But I’m not as behind as I was last week when Enid and Frank came round on Sunday, Puff on Monday, and the aftermath of the Victorian evening went on till 4. 

Luckily, due to hard work in the previous 3 weeks, George Cawkwell had given me a light week, and philosophy consists of bluff anyway, though I was crushed in the argument, due to Covent Garden the night before with Burgess, when we were stopped on the way back for going through a red light by a policeman who kept saying ‘diabolical’, and breathalysed Burgess, though the alcohol content was far below the level. This was after Covent Garden on Saturday with Leslie, when my neighbour and I fled a party for which we’d foolishly lent our rooms, to discover chaos when we returned. Imagine Jeremy – whom you’ve seen on TV – and me walking through the quads, trying to think up a way of stopping the party to get to bed, being helpfully told by Burgess to let off a fire–extinguisher. We got rid of them by 3. I shall probably give up by my 3rd year, and relapse into cloistered study, unable to keep up the pace – but it’s so magnificent while it lasts.

Due to a combination of circumstances that leaves me with only 3 weeks free between Punch and the Swiss Chalet, I might end up staying in Oxford, or at least England, till the 2nd week of August, so do send Aachchi if you can. Tell Punch I met the Lucases, who are delightful.

P.S. Thank everyone for birthday cards. Out to dinner on the 16th, had a few to a party at the H.C.’s and hurt a few feelings!

Rajiva Wijesinha

October 2020
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