Personal and undiluted views
ChristChurch

1455 days ago

My Grandfather Sir John Winnifrith spinning in his grave again as the National Trust joins the LGBT fest

Earlier this week it was his fellow socialist Polly Toynbee arguing for subsidies for farmers and higher food prices for the workers that would have had my late grandfather spinning in his grave. Well Sir John will have had reason tp spin again as the National Trust has joined the 50 year LGBT-fest led by the BBC, in the most ridiculous of ways. This is not to say that Sir John was a homophobe but he was Director General of the Trust.

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2371 days ago

The First and Second Oxford Interviews

My strange dream of Friday night about a failed third interview at Oxford brings back memories of my first two bites at the cherry – the whole process was surreal and almost of another era. The year was 1985.

It had been decided that I was capable of applying for Oxford and that I should sit the exam in the fourth term of my sixth form at Warwick School for boys, an establishment that these days also takes girls in the sixth form.  The choice of college was not in doubt. My grandfather (Sir John Winnifrith), my father and his brother Charles Winnifrith had all gone to Christchurch as had Richard Hobhouse who married my father’s younger sister Lucy.  My maternal grandfather had studied (very little) at Pembroke and my mother had attended St Anne’s which was just about to start accepting men in the year of my application.

Elder cousins Helen & Corinna Hobhouse had both failed to get into ChristChurch so it was not a family connection shoe in. A rather studious cousin Charlotte Winnifrith was already up and so as I always rather liked Lotte who has a hidden wild streak I went for the family choice.

The day of the exam came and I can still remember utterly screwing up an essay answering the question “Is poverty relative?” Of course it can be viewed in relative terms but it is absolute poverty that we must eradicate and that can only happen through the joys of capitalism which requires inequality of wealth for it to work. Greed, the desire to be richer than the best man is the only way to drive enterprise and so to make all of society better off, including the poor. There. I have answered the question in 45 seconds but in November 1985, sitting in the second desk from the front next to the wall, I made a right pig’s ear of it.

Despite that I was called up to the House for interview.  The Christchurch of the mid-eighties was a frightful place, known as the home of the Sloane ranger. Do you remember Olivia Channon

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2373 days ago

My Third Oxford Interview…I wake from a nightmare

The Mrs is away visiting her folks in the grim frozen Northern post-industrial wastelands and so it is just myself and the cats living a chaotic life here in Bristol. I am not sure the house is terribly tidy and my routine is shot to pieces and so at 6 PM I went up to bed for a nap with the cats but awoke with a start two hours later thanks to a shocking nightmare. 

This rather startled the cats who were somewhat perturbed at the intrusion of a stranger in what they regard as their bed although it is in fact that in which the Mrs and I sleep.

As it happens I had two interviews at Oxford, one not quite as successful as the other. Like Evelyn Waugh I was rejected by Christchurch, The House, the college of the establishment and the thick aristocracy and also the college attended by most of my family. And like Evelyn Waugh, I ended up at Hertford, a modest and impoverished establishment rather looked down upon by House types for admitting women, Northerners and grammar school boys.  I was thinking about those two interviews as I lay awake pondering my nightmare but the actual history is for another day. 

Suffice to say that there is a tradition of great writers being rejected by the House only to end up at Herford. 

Back to the nightmare. For some reason it appeared that my second Oxford interview has been unsuccessful as my first but somehow I had been offered a third bite at the cherry

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