Personal and undiluted views
Evelyn Waugh

128 days ago

A masterstroke by Boris to win back my vote and it almost worked

We were all told that if we got the vaccine we’d be safe so could go on our hols. That seemed a bit harsh but I played along and got the jab and promptly booked a flight to go and spend the summer at the luxury eco palace formerly known as the Greek Hovel. Then the Tories said that if I went on hols I would be fined £5,000. Yet another reason to vote Plaid Cymru in May thought I, as I cursed Boris Johnson and the evil Tories. Or maybe not.

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169 days ago

Photo Article from the Welsh Hovel: Jane Tomlinson, My Grandfather in his Brideshead days & the portraits of a naked ex girlfriend dilemma

We moved to the Welsh Hovel 21 months ago and still we have some things in cardboard packing boxes. Not a lot but enough. But as rooms are renovated, one by one, and furniture is added, gradually those boxes can be unpacked. In a month or so I shall also be picking up more furniture from my late father’s house in Shipston including two more Victorian bookcases and so this week I have been going through those cardboard boxes.

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469 days ago

Tom Winnifrith Bearcast: What Connects Peter Hitchens, Dom Frisby, Evelyn Waugh and that other great literary giant Roger Lawson?

The answer is in this podcast which starts with two service announcements. I have today also posted a new Coronavirus podcast, the 6th in a series, looking at the data on BAME victims on my own website HERE. In the bearcast i take a detailed look at Collagen (COS) and at Premier Miton (PMI). 

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1109 days ago

Photo Article - through the keyhole, whose books are these?

When I visit my dad, he urges me to take away one or two of the zillions of books in his house. Naturally I want to please him and do as requested but I am equally conscious that the Mrs reckons that our house in Bristol has too many books and that my suggestion that she bin her sociology books to make way for more of mine is not a runner. And now Joshua is collecting book after book as well...

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1442 days ago

Congratulations to nephew D on winning a place at Britain's second best University - it was 31 years ago for me

In most ways I am, as you might have gathered, the black sheep of my family. Am I allowed to use that phrase anymore? The rest of them work for the State, read the Guardian and believe in money trees while worrying about the poor polar bears drowning on melting ice caps thanks to wicked folk like Donald Trump and Margaret Thatcher. But in one respect I followed a family tradition in that I managed to get into the UK's leading seat of learning, that is to say Oxford.

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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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1534 days ago

Spoiled Oxford University brat Lavinia Woodward should go to jail - one law for the rich....

Lavinia Woodward attends Christ Church the Oxford College known as "the House". 17 Prime Ministers went there, it is the college of of the privileged elite. It goes without saying that like Evelyn Waugh I was rejected by the House and, like Waugh, ended up at downmarket Hertford. The House is for the blue bloods not great writers. Lavinia picked up her boyfriend on the casual sex app Tinder, then while off her head on drugs assaulted him, throwing a laptop and other objects in his direction before stabbing him in the leg with a bread knife. Jail beckons surely? Er...no.

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1982 days ago

Evelyn Waugh: the missing link with the Other Great 20th Century writer Time also missed

Evelyn Waugh is trending on twitter. I guess thousands of uneducated young folks are saying "who is she?" "Is she dead?" I say this only partly in jest, knowing full well that Mr Evelyn Waugh was male and died about fifty years ago. But it seems that the old reactionary is trending because Time Magazine has just named him as one of Britain's top 100 female writers. I rather despair.

I wonder how Time coped with George Eliot or indeed Acton Bell. Actually I do not wonder I just reflect on how stupid are most young people and most Americans. In some sort of Venn diagram of stupidity the editorial team at Time will be in that dark coloured convex sharpe in the middle.

The missing link you ask? 

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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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