1442 days ago
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.
1534 days ago
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.
1982 days ago
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?
2371 days ago
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
2373 days ago
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