This letter records the departure of two of the dons who had made Univ such a friendly place. Meanwhile I was doing my best to help my brother get a place at Oxford, and in the end succeeded at Univ though I had hoped he would go elsewhere.

The pictures are of the two dons who left that year, David Burgess and John Albery, and also Tony Firth who had gone a couple of years earlier; and then George Cawkwell and Leslie Mitchell who stayed on.

7TH March 1978


This was meant to console you for your loneliness but I’m afraid it will probably arrive just as Mum returns. No matter, it means I can tell you that Chanaka got on the Standing Committee of the Union (and no other freshman did, though it was a close-run thing and one really felt rather guilty, since the person who came 6th is quite nice and I recall being in the same position myself – still we shall be very kind in the future to make up for the propaganda. The other new people were, all 3, much older). As for Lalith, could you, or he, let us know as soon as possible whether he’ll be here on any Thursday from April 27th – June 8th (except May 25th which is the funny), the President for next term, John Harrison, being a pal and protégé – the present Doge of the Vile Bodies. Something can be arranged.

Though, as always, as term progresses, concentration lapses and work is desultorily done, I think Chapter 4 will be done by the end of it; and 3 was said to be perfectly  all right. During the Vac I shall be here till the Bodleian shuts (but will make arrangements for the 22nd – Sanjiva can’t as he’s got a Clinic) but will be off most of the time you’re here.

I should certainly be able to leave here by the end of August, and hope plans are proceeding accordingly – I am getting increasingly enamoured of the prospect of a different sort of work. On Sunday, I took Sanjiva in for Univ evensong and to meet the gang, and Gwynne obligingly said she’d contact Temple herself and tell him Sanjiva could have a place at Univ if Wolfson didn’t come off – though in terms of digs and contacts, of course, the latter would be preferable at his level. David, as I may have said, was anxious to leave and has landed a plum job – which I think is being officially announced today, but I’ve promised not to tell and I do want to convince him that I’m not indiscreet! As John Albery, who sent me the telegram in ’70, leaves as well, the College will be a very different place from next year with only George and Leslie fighting a valiant battle against the modern age. Poor Leslie, especially, with thirty years to go and no kindred spirits left. 

I’m glad Angus Wilson seemed to have enjoyed himself, do please if he’s still around have him to Parliament to meet interesting MPs et al – I hope Bernard is one again by then, but have him anyway as I think they’ll be a fair match as conversationalists. Aachchi appears to have charmed him considerably, I hope she approved of him. Had a letter from Mum from Hong Kong, and note that she’d been to Chiang Mai in Thailand – wish I’d been able to give her the address of a friend who’s studying Thai there for the Australian Foreign service whom she’d met here. Hope Sella and, indeed, Tiko are better, and that the former is following doctor’s orders better than Ressa!