Useless Information

When I was 10, my father's cousin (more like an uncle to me, as they'd both been brought up by my grandmother in Glasgow) became engaged to an English girl, a bold deed previously unheard of within our family. The wedding was to take place in Hemel Hempstead on 31 July 1965. As it was…

Don Javier Marías Franco

Easter 1980: having been awarded the lucrative De Osma Studentship, I was obliged to spend at least six weeks in Madrid on a study trip. Not that I was exactly complaining. I immediately spent most of the money on a Shergold double-neck, as you would. Another of my fellow sufferers in the Florey Building was…

Messages from the Other Side

I hadn't seen Alison for quite a while but we had stayed in touch over the years. In was 1982 and she was back from Tokyo or Beirut or Damascus, or wherever. For someone who had to resit her A levels, she was heading for a distinguished academic career, which was more than I was.…

Moscow in the Dark

The Florey Building - not looking its best October 1979: I was still, or again, (depending on which way you looked at it) studying at The Queen's College Oxford. The college offered me the exalted and ridiculous-sounding position of Vir Probatus (Junior Dean) if I abandoned the slum that was 41 Bullingdon Road and moved…

Cold War: Best Film of 2018?

Xmas card by Mikey Cuddihy

In 1983, as previously confessed, I was living in east Oxford grinding away at my thesis. One of the other post-grads I got to know was Paul (a Pole with a German passport), who was studying at Wolfson and rumoured to be writing a thesis on Hölderlin. We became good friends. He had a finely-tuned…

The Lost Thesis

Complete works of Pardo Bazán

A couple of months ago I was introduced to the new Chair of the Camberwell Society, who teaches Modern Languages at a local posh school. It transpired that he had studied Spanish at Exeter University; we talked about the former professor, Maurice Hemingway, who had examined my MLitt thesis many years ago. A few days…