Rominations

Have you been to Romania? I thoroughly recommend that you take a look, speaking as someone who has spent all of five nights in that fascinating country (earlier this week, hence this blog comes to you a day late). We only stayed in Bucharest and Brașov: two cities that just about everybody on a short…

Second chance

How often do you fail at something important, and get a second chance?  As previously recounted in Useless Information, when I was a postgrad at Queen’s, back in 1983, I was picked for the University Challenge team. I've always been a fan of the show and I was fortunate to (still) be at college when…

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…

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

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 into James Stirling's (in)famous Florey Building on St…

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…