Monday, May 9, 2011

Chapter VI Leaving On A Jet Plane 1968-1970

If I have given the impression that leaving Westminster was some sort of tragedy for my life and general well-being, such an impression would be erroneous. Who is to say that my 7 terms with John Carleton were less motivating or less preparatory for the broader canvas of life than the more usual 12 terms? Perhaps, like my twin brother who left an estate of many millions, I would have been better off smoking pot during those years.

The summer of 1968 was to be a splendid affair for me; Randy and I discovered that Nancy and Myles were off to visit California and successfully petitioned to be included. It had been 6 years since we had departed for England and we were returning as anglicized young men. We were eager to partake in the lingering effects of the previous year’s Summer of Love.

Ironically, the effects of free love were finally to shower upon me on my return to Britain. I picked up a well-to-do New York girl at the end of her Grand tour in Piccadilly Circus. She gushed that she had been deflowered in Switzerland earlier that summer; now she would return the favor. I was the lucky male. We went to the Serpentine restaurant in Hyde Park to celebrate in style my new found manhood.

In Los Angeles, My father had presented us each with $50 walking around money; I promptly invested the money in a stack of west coast acid rock record albums purchased at wholesale; these records were only available as expensive imports in Britain and upon my return to London, I had no difficulty in selling the lot to record stores desperate for the merchandise. Now greatly increased, my capital was used as a fund to purchase concert tickets. At first, I exploited an anomaly at the Royal Festival Hall and its companion Queen Elizabeth Hall : the management offered seats in the front two rows at significant discount as those seats were unpopular with their classical music patrons.

One concert I remember clearly was the Tyrannosaurus Rex (not T. Rex) affair, with Marc Bolan and Steve Peregrine Took playing their acoustic folk-rock. The opening act was David Bowie, hard to hear that day. He was performing in mime.

All this buying and selling made me a popular young man, particularly as I was content to make a modest profit rather than a killing. My reputation was cemented with Jimi Hendrix’s concert at the Royal Albert Hall in February 1969. I had organized local hippies to get up at the crack of dawn to queue for me to buy tickets. We managed to buy the very best seats in the hall as well as a box for myself to enjoy the festivities in semi regal style.

No other artist commanded as much attention as Hendrix and I became a hero to my brothers and Westminster friends for providing them with the precious ducats. My date for the evening was a 14 year old St. Paul’s girl, Leila Mallinson, half Greek and absolutely stunning. As we walked alongside the outside perimeter of the vast hall, there were envious glances from some young musicians that I knew from nearby Lisson Grove; they were then calling themselves Communication. Within a couple of years they had hit the big time with their classic Alright Now using the moniker Free. Sadly, the one to whom I had lost a prior girlfriend Coral Avery, Paul Kossoff, was to die shortly of a heroin overdose. Paul had given me one of his cast-off guitars which I subsequently bestowed upon Julian Campbell.

I had met Leila at a party at the Ware home in London's Earl Court. The eldest of at least 4 beautiful blonde girls in her family, Stephanie Ware was known as Sware at St. Paul's. As I recall, her parents owned a small hotel next door or upstairs. Leila and I snogged furiously on a couch before I discovered that she was well under the age of consent (so was I!) in spite of her fully developed bosom. Somehow our passion quickly transformed itself into solid friendship with my often visiting her Chiswick home. She was always a little too wild for me and I was dismayed when she managed to cross the line that I myself challenged but never broached. She was constantly in trouble, as I recall.

I had settled comfortably into my existence as an Old Westminster; making up for the missing Liddell’s house neck-tie I quickly purchased the distinctive Old Wet tie, closely resembling the Old Etonian but with a pink stripe instead of blue. I signed up with the Old Westminster football club and must have become the youngest ever to play for them in their Arthurian League Division II matches. The highlight of playing with the old boys was the annual match at Vincent Square when they would take on the school. A bittersweet homecoming for me, to be sure.

There was no danger of my losing contact with the people who mattered most to me at Westminster. I continued to be invited to their parties, whether in town or in the country.

One unusual party was that thrown by Zack Samuel, son of a prosperous architect who lent his son a loft type space in Soho, London to be used one Saturday evening. Among the throng was James Lascelles; also there and meeting her for the first time was my next girlfriend Charlotte Knox who lived like James on the edge of Notting Hill Gate. Suddenly, there was a commotion as I heard the sound of heavy boots ascending the stairs from the street below to the second storey space : it was a full scale drugs raid launched by the Metropolitan Police! Fortunately Zack’s father was soon found and prevented mass body searches and the police retreated somewhat sheepishly. Simon Berrill - though a great party giver in his own right - was not present or else we might have had unfortunate headlines the next morning screaming about some ex-Royal caught at Marijuana fest.

Simon and I had been close neighbors in Cambridge. His father, the economist (later Sir) Kenneth Berrill was a Fellow of King’s who had recently spent some time as a visiting professor in the United States. It was startling to see the exact model and make of car that my mother had been driving in Anaheim sitting in the Berrills’ Cambridge driveway, an early 1960s Oldsmobile 98. Simon was in the same year as I at King’s but in the "A" stream and entered Westminster a term after I did. Simon was to be unchallenged by me academically but he had a grudging respect for my political organizing skills.

It was at one of Simon’s parties that I met Andrea Mellinger. Simon’s parents had taken up temporary residence in a Marylebone mansion flat and Simon was throwing a party in the spring of 1969 there, the guests were mainly Westminster boys like Huw Thomas and their sisters (like the lovely Sian Thomas) along with the sisters’ school friends. Andie was a school mate of Charlotte Berrill at the semi private Camden School for Girls. Andie resembled a young Olivia Hussey and she had a Juliet effect on her R.. I was to walk her home at 3 a.m. through a deserted Regent’s Park, pausing to embrace her passionately in the beautiful gardens whose roses were stirring from their winter’s sleep.

I was much too immature to be the emotional rock that Andie so desperately craved. Ironically, her then step-father, the author Stuart Hood, head of programming at the BBC and later professor of television at the Royal College of Art, was to become a mentor cum substitute father figure for me as our friendship blossomed long after Andie and I had parted ways and Stuart had parted from Andie’s mother, the actress Renee Goddard.

Visiting Andie’s house in Regent’s Park Road, near the London Zoo, was to be my introduction to London N.W.1, the storied enclave of left wing radicals (with money!) pitching their tents next to one another in the London of the 60’s. Just around the corner from Andie’s house, was the South African activist businessman Sylvester Stein, his gentile wife and large family. His second youngest daughter Hattie was thought to be mildly disturbed, but she proved to be a loyal friend for many years. Through the Steins, one was introduced to Southern Africa in exile : the Slovos, Joe and his author and later assassinated wife Ruth First. Doris Lessing had an Aunt like presence and curiously liked to attend parties with us teenagers, no doubt to stay current with contemporary mating rituals. She was not yet the darling of the feminist movement. After catching the literature bug a few years later, I was to admire her early southern African writings as I was also to admire the works of Muriel Spark for capturing the spirit of post war London, besides her masterwork, the novella The Prime of Miss Jean Brodie.

Sylvester liked to live well and hosted a weekly poker game that I unsuccessfully tried to crash; he did allow me, though, occasional use of his season tickets at Chelsea Football Club.

Academically, I wasted most of that year at the grandiose sounding but slum-like City of Westminster College in Blackfriars. But if I had to pick a time to have an off year, I couldn’t have picked a less consequential one to do so. I managed to pass one important examination Use of English without any preparation whatsoever and fail my "A" levels in Geography and Spanish, subjects in which I thought I had everything under control. Ironically, I agreed with the local education authorities a year later in August 1969 that I needed to return to school at 16. I was to continue to take an evening class at the college in Geography and successfully re-sit the failed examination in January 1970.

Upon investigation I discovered the one nearby school able to offer advanced classes in Spanish was Holland Park Comprehensive in Kensington. I duly went for an interview and dictated to the headmaster how things would be : armed with my examination successes, I would enter the final year at the school and study for "A" levels in 2 subjects, Spanish and Pure Mathematics. After success in those examinations, I would spend an additional term at the school preparing for entrance to King’s College, Cambridge. This all sounded too good to be true to the head, thirsting for any academic success for his school. But Holland Park had done spectacularly well with those who had previously arrived from Westminster and its Under school. The Labour minister Tony Benn had all four of his children attend; among others attending was the then 13 year old Lady Emma Douglas (of the Queensberry Rules/Bosie Douglas family). Lady Antonia Fraser chose for a while to send her daughter Flora there, before having her join eldest daughter, Becky, at St. Paul's. Two boys that had attended the Westminster Under school, Hilary Benn and James Tregaskis, were to become very good friends of mine at Holland Park.

Starting at H.P.S. in September 1969 at age 16 was like entering paradise. The previous year, the older girls at City of Westminster had shown no interest in me; now I was the fox among the chickens. In spite of the constant round of Westminster and Holland Park parties, I hated the weekends my first term. School was such a blast. I had a light schedule of classes, I was playing football at lunch time with some of the best youth footballers in London, as for the senior boys, the head boy Christian "Kiki" Routh was the coolest kid around.

Not that the weekends were all bad. The two best footballers at Holland Park, 15 year olds Derek Ross and Julian Dike had taken me to see my first Queens Park Rangers match (actually I had seen them play once before in around 1965 and hated the experience) with their star forward Rodney Marsh. Marsh was the marquee attraction at Loftus Road and truly one of the most gifted footballers I have seen in my life.

Rodney was deaf in one ear, the result of an injury sustained at his former club, Fulham F.C.. Left as scrap, transferred to lowly third division Q.P.R., Marsh was to develop an uncanny sense of balance with his one good ear and become the torment of English defenses and the toast of Shepherd’s Bush. Now I would spend a Saturday morning cheering the Holland Park team on, occasionally making an appearance as linesman or as the 12th man substitute; in the afternoon, my mother's lodger David Turner would join me as we watched professional soccer from the School End terrace, off Bloemfontein Road. In later years, my brothers would join us and when Q.P.R. gained promotion to the First Division we would have the best five season ticket seats in the newly re-constructed stadium and take turns inviting a friend to watch the most exciting soccer in the world; Rodney had departed and the team actually improved, reaching the zenith of their success by losing the Football Championship by a point to mighty Liverpool a few years later.

If that much football were not enough, Kiki Routh soon had me involved in his weekly Sunday morning kick arounds in Kensington Gardens. Nowhere as serious as the action at lunch time at Holland Park, there were still some good footballers present including Kiki himself and Marcus Campbell, Julian’s younger brother. What made the get togethers a lot more interesting was the presence of girls, some Holland Park sixth form girls and others being sisters of the players. Kiki brought along his 14 year old almost step-brother, Michael Hamlyn. Kiki’s notorious father, Jonathan Routh, was living in Michael’s mother Bobbi’s doll house, located in Netherton 

Grove, a cul de sac off the Fulham Road near the Campbells’ house in Edith Grove. Michael’s other home was the magnificent Gropius house in Old Church Street, Chelsea owned by his father, publishing magnate Paul Hamlyn. Michael’s only sibling, 12 year old sister Jane, was usually on hand to watch the footer. 

After the physical exertions of the park, we would always retire for refreshments to someone’s house in nearby Chelsea or Kensington. I remember the poignant scene of Jane helping her mother prepare the Sunday roast and luncheon for the assorted players. Not long afterwards, Bobbi was to baffle us all by taking her own life in the aftermath of her break-up with Jonathan Routh.

The girls at Holland Park School were extraordinary. There was a mix of the St. Paul's type upper middle class sixth form girls along with more exotic beauties from the nearby slums of north Kensington. For sheer coquettishness, there was nothing to rival the fourth form girls, 14 years old, flaunting their budding beauty each lunch time. A 12 year old Holland Parker was the nude model used for the infamous Blind Faith album cover design of a girl holding a model aeroplane.

Another 12 year old, Pippa Gee, almost had me in a Humbert Humbert like vise; we had met playing in the Holland Park Junior orchestra where I used to coach the younger children in orchestral technique. I was so taken with Pippa’s charming beauty that I naively wrote her a poem, extolling her imagined merits in purplish blank verse "I haven’t even kissed you once … Licking you, I find my place", poetry being a favorite currency of mine in those days. Mrs. Gee was mildly perturbed by such bad poetry being directed at her young daughter and requested the thoroughly embarrassed headmaster speak with me to make sure my attempted seduction remain a purely literary one.

Not that everyone was copulating in the bushes at Holland Park (though some were); it was simply that there was a generally welcoming atmosphere at the school that allowed me to do all of the previous year’s work in one term.

I was helped by having a Spaniard, Inez White as my teacher in my best subject. In fact, I was the only non native speaker in the class of Spanish immigrant children and a stuck up Mexican girl.

My fluency in Spanish had obviously been helped greatly by an entire summer spent in Madrid; it was the summer of Man's moon walk, 1969, and Spain remained firmly in Franco's iron grip. The economy was woefully underperforming, poverty that we now associate with Latin America was evident throughout. Prices were absurdly low in that era : staying in a pension cost less than 50 pesetas a night, a basic meal of lentejas con pan (rich lentil soup with bread) just 6 pesetas). And a peseta was worth less than a penny. I was able to supplement my few pounds by working as an extra in the many motion pictures then in production around the Spanish capital. Ironically an "uncle" of mine, Ted Richmond, had been one of the top American producers in Spain. Previously I had been spoilt by him and his wife when they stayed at the glamorous Hilton in London's Park Lane and had also visted them at the stately Castellana Hilton the first time I had passed through Madrid the previous year. But as luck would have it, we never "worked" together.

Not that I needed help finding work. There was an acute shortage of fair-skinned young men needed to dress up as soldiers in the many period piece movies then being shot. Most of the productions were Spanish and paid well, about 500 pesetas a day and included a sumptuous mid day meal. There was the occasional American production that paid much more, 1350 pesetas a day but skimped on the food. The pensions and restaurants depended greatly on these productions to allow their guests to settle their long standing bills. For the most part, I was an anonymous extra in the background. Exceptions are my holding George Peppard's horse by the reins in the dreadful Cannon For Cordoba and a bar scene in a Spanish musical, A 45 Revoluciones por Minuto (45 RPM).

Centering myself in the notorious Ceverceria Alemana in the Plaza de Santa Ana in the Plaza del Sol district, I was never short of friends. The girls were delightful but not easy game for sexual relations, for understandable reasons. To compensate, there were always American teen tours passing through with participants more eager to experiment.

At Holland Park, there were something like 5 of us in the class so we spoke Spanish exclusively; we were joined later by the extraordinary Jarko Almuli, one of many children of the diplomatic corps attending the school. In Jarko’s case, his father was Yugoslav of sephardic ancestry who had previously been posted in Washington D.C. and Brasilia. Jarko would alternate between his American and Latin personae, leaving us all mystified.

The mathematics class soon turned into a fiasco with our regular teacher, the head of department, spirited away. For the remainder of the year, the class was purely a social club for me as I mingled with some awfully bright people teaching themselves. One remarkable friendship I formed in class was with Veronica Pogan, daughter of the Romanian ambassador, one of Nicolae Ceausescu’s henchmen. More than anything, I took pity on the slight girl with the comically heavy accent. She had to arrive at school in a limo in an era when few millionaires in London would subject their children to such ostentation. Naturally, her social life did not involve the school, but I made the effort and was richly rewarded with an invitation to take tea at the embassy in nearby Millionaire’s Row, the line of ambassadorial mansions skirting Kensington Gardens.

The zenith of my career at Holland Park was my being chosen by BBC producers to be a member of the 2 boy 2 girl school team for TV’s Top of the Form programme. Even more gratifying was my being elected captain by fellow teammates that included Hilary Benn. Somewhat mischievously for the first taping I wore an Old Westminster tie, dark blue with a thin pink stripe, to counter-balance the long haired look I sported at that age.





The Holland Park team appeared twice before being eliminated somewhat unfairly and not before my challenging the accuracy of the answers to key questions that would have earned us further progress in the knock out, sudden death, competition. Since public (fee paying) schools did not compete, only schools from the state sector, this was definitely a bonus for me envied somewhat by many who watched our team at Westminster.

Not all was a bed of roses at school. Shortly after our team's first television appearance in which I had individually scored more points than the four opponents combined, the Headmaster had asked me to reduce the number of school activities in which I was participating. "Do you mean Top of the Form as well," I disingenuously asked. Difficulties had arisen following a strike by my fellow players in the orchestra. A fellow musician, 12 year old Giles Newington had had his French Horn playing privileges taken away for something totally unrelated to his behavior in orchestra. When the conductor, the much despised music teacher, raised his baton, nary a sound could be heard in the rehearsal space. Making the most concerted effort of their nascent careers, all of the pupils refused to play if Giles were not allowed back. After his third attempt to find any musical harmony or disharmony among his charges, the conductor got the full message of the strike and stormed out to seek counsel from the headmaster. As the only senior pupil present, I was allocated full blame for the debacle; in all honesty, I could not take credit for organizing anything; these children would have regarded me as an outsider, only by honouring their strike did I win their approval.

Fortunately, I had an ally on the board of governors of the school. My new friend, Hilary Benn’s mother, the American born Caroline Benn was very much active in school affairs, not the least because of her four children attending the school, the eldest Stephen followed by Hilary, daughter Amanda and "Tosh", Joshua bringing up the rear. She would hear of everything going on at the school first from the children at home then from the adults at the governors’ meetings. I was soon invited to the Benn home, on London’s Holland Park Avenue, a house as unpretentious as the Campbells’ on Edith Grove. The great man himself, cabinet minister and heir apparent to the leadership of the ruling Labour party, Old Westminster Tony Benn, was only a whirlwind presence in my recollection.

Mrs. Benn would delight in hearing of the solidarity expressed by the those on the shop floor at H.P.S.. She would also express support for my writings in the school newspaper, a theoretically collective effort that I wound up doing most of the work for. At that time I had thought of myself more as a publisher than journalist; owing to missed copy deadlines for our school newspaper Focus, I had filled up empty space with an ad hoc editorial addressing racial discrimination at Holland Park . Just the mention of the "d" word was enough to raise the hackles of the powers at be, in writing of specific instances I was delivering the school on a platter nicely undressed for its many enemies to devour. My article was soon quoted at length in the local press, with a quote or two making it far as Fleet Street, home to Britain’s national press.

I know that Kiki was disappointed in me, upsetting his fine bed of roses. The controversy polarized the school between those who enjoyed its alternative elitist school within the sham framework of a comprehensive and those striving to provide equal opportunity for all, regardless of social background. The Benns, for all their advantages, fervently believed in the latter ideal, and without their support I would have been in an untenable position.

The 12 week honeymoon was over. I adjusted to exerting less energy on school projects, though I was running a sixth form football team to compensate for the football coach’s exclusion of senior boys from his squad. The only star player in both squads was 16 year old Taffy Winch who was to own the school centre forward position for the next three years. Winch, a Fulham fan, appeared to blend right in with the other cockneys on the team; no one suspected, not even I, the truth revealed by my mother one day when she asked me if I had met David Winch, son of the Professor of Philosophy at King’s College, London. "His father says he likes football …" continued my mother. Taffy asked me to keep his other persona secret from the other lads.

The sports master in question was none too happy at my exposing his bizarre selection practices; his reward was to promote me from reserve to taking Taffy’s place on the school’s official team on a day where both teams had matches scheduled. I told him "Thanks, but no thanks and don’t even bother trying to kick me off the training squad as the Headmaster has already approved of our team and he’ll be hard pressed to understand your sabotaging it". I told Taffy that we would do fine without him that day. We had a pretty good team as I sought to include the few older West Indian boys still at the school and persuaded them we would value their presence. I recollect that we later played a friendly against the immature school team and beat them. The following year, the now mainly 16 year olds were to be unbeatable as they won the London schools’ championship, the Ebdon Cup; still, all you had to do was score 2 goals against them and you might win; Holland Park would have a masterfully defensive team built around libero Ross and goalkeeper Dike with Taffy popping up to score his one decisive goal a match.

It was about this time in 1969 that I began meeting a new generation of Westminsters that would become, in certain cases, life-long friends. Often I would visit former contemporaries at Westminster after school and in so doing meet the brightest of the new boys. Somehow I bumped into David Bernstein, son of media mogul Sidney Bernstein, in Liddell’s (David was up Grant's). Patrick Wintour, a true Rodney Marsh disciple, I first met playing football on Green, the grassy part of Dean’s Yard. Michael Zilkha was a little, intense boy I was introduced to that I immediately liked for his exhuberance.

One Saturday evening in the autumn of 1969, I was passing through the leafy suburb of Hampstead when I saw and heard a large crowd of young people inside and outside a large red brick house. Within a short while, the parents of the house arrived home unexpectedly early and Professor Sydney Cohen gently reprimanded his fully grown six foot something 14 year old heir, Roger. I helped my new acquaintance clean up and a passionate friendship was born that was to endure for the next 7 years.

Roger Cohen was an honorary Queen’s Scholar at Westminster who just wanted to be bad but who never strayed far from his career path of Westminster, Balliol and all their glittering prizes.

Roger styled his hair after the singer and sometime footballer Rod Stewart. Studying came effortlessly to him; he was so proficient at French, he could deliberately create his own hip way of speaking it and fool you into thinking that he didn’t know every inch of its grammar. He had heard of my rebellious days at Westminster and I think he wanted to experience life a little through my differing perspective. He was as interested in seducing girls as I was and he relied on me, 2 years his senior, to chauffeur him to illicit trysts outside girl boarding schools in the Home counties. For his part, he always included me in his mad social life; no one knew of more and better parties than Roger. The girls were absolutely crazy about this future Captain of Westminster football. The crumbs off his table were indeed filling.

Much later as Roger matured in his stay at Oxford, I was no longer able to keep up with the intellectual arrogance of his Oxford set, many of whom have gone on, like Roger, to careers in journalism. Very few of these people seemed to have been prepared to do anything other than comment smugly upon others’ doings.

For my part, it took years to shake off the crippling arrogance that comes with a Westminster education. Arrogance as distinct from self confidence, not the feeling that one can achieve but rather that one is superior to one’s fellow man. The students of Westminster should feel fortunate to attend such a magnificent school with all its attendant advantages, but the school instills in them feelings that in many instances cut them off emotionally from fellow Britons.

This had not been the original intent of such schooling. The monastic school at Westminster had been established to provide education for gifted children from the merchant, artisan and lower classes; the great English playwright, Ben Jonson probably was of humble origins but received a superior education there before my turn briefly came. Over the centuries, fewer and fewer of such low born children were to be included in the elite schools in Britain, thereby making rigid the stratification of English society.

In the 1950’s, Holland Park and other comprehensive schools had opened as a largely doomed attempt to include all classes of English society under one academic roof; I was lucky in that I caught the tail end of one of Holland Park’s more successful periods. However, a school like Westminster would have never permitted the gifted students in its most senior mathematics class to make do with a substitute teacher for 6 months, nor would it have completely ignored the syllabus required for entrance to the then pre-eminent Oxford and Cambridge universities.

I understand that nowadays Holland Park has lost its former lustre and is no longer seen as an alternative by what is left of the progressive London middle and upper classes. At the same time, I am horrified by the current, slavish Westminster obsession with examination results. Under the old Oxbridge system of counting scholarships won, no one expected more than a minority of pupils at any one school to come out on top; now, every pupil is part of a collective effort to secure the highest possible examination results, such results never regarded as having much to do with a pupil’s aptitude nor future prospects.

To be fair, I was never going to be a conformist and the Westminster/Oxbridge connection was not to be mine, even if I had stayed the course. Despite, my feeling pre-destined (indoctrinated would be more accurate) that I would attend King’s Cambridge as an undergraduate, the road there would not have been smooth however had I prepared for entrance.

My good friend, past collaborator and exact contemporary, Stephen Poliakoff went off to King’s and hardly lasted a year before fleeing from what he perceived as the vacuity of it all. In the end, I sat the papers for admission and probably failed them badly; the college tried to soften the blow by saying I had been short-listed. No other college at Cambridge would touch a King’s reject as I went door-to- door among the cloisters and spires pleading for admission.

Oxford was out of the question as I had not bothered passing any examination in Latin, one of the required ancient languages necessary for matriculation. My second choice (out of the six universities we were able to choose), Warwick university, inquired as to whether I intended to improve my examination results. I replied no and they still offered me a place to study philosophy the following October(1971), nine months hence. For the previous 3 months I had all but ceased attending classes at Holland Park, now I made it official. My good friend Leila Mallinson who had messed up at St. Paul’s arranged for me to meet obliging girls at her Suffolk boarding school. Two came up to London for a January 1971 weekend, Roger Cohen graciously taking the less attractive one. I had a glorious time in the back bedroom with the other before escaping the English winter and catching my flight the next day to Los Angeles.





Updated June 2011

Work in progress

9 comments:

  1. As always, Robbie, I enjoyed this writing... I look forward to reading the rest of it!
    -Tommy

    ReplyDelete
  2. According to my (possibly addled) memory, the daughter of the Romanian ambassador around (or possibly slightly before?) that time was the beautiful Ilinca Cantacuzino: the direct cause of the only recorded row between myself (now a resident of Sydney) and Peter Collenette (now, as far as I can tell, a resident of Launceston, Tasmania).
    On the other hand, all I can find now about the Cantacuzino family is that they were exiles from the communist regime, so something doesn't add up!

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. I don't know of Ilinca nor her family. The girl I knew was hardly beautiful and she went by the name of Veronica. And I most certainly took tea as her guest at the Romanian Ambassador's residence.

      Colin, the Westminster Development Office had you down as MIA; I informed them that you could be reached via Julian.

      I'm in Phuket in case you're nearby!

      Delete
  3. Sorry about the late reply ;-)

    My memory truly was addled. Ilinca (an artist, and still a woman of striking appearance) was born in England and her father was an architect, not an ambassador. (Both begin with 'A')

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. I understand. My 12 year old was quoting me Henry V's "Once more unto the breach, dear friends, once more" speech and I started to quite wrongly correct him, having conflated said speech with the later St Crispin's day one.

      His expert knowledge derives from watching all variants of Star Trek, mine from having read English at Varsity in the 70's and in the 80's watching Alan Howard perform the "Harry" cycle at the Barbican.

      Delete
  4. I was at Holland Park between 1970-73. I was friends with Julian Dike, Michael Miller, Peggy Potter. I was in Nick Sedgwick's and Vernon Yorke's classes. Do you remember or know where they are?
    Lisa Jacobson

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    Replies
    1. Julian is on facebook

      https://www.facebook.com/julian.dike.1?fref=ts

      Delete
  5. Hi, I'm looking to get in touch with Peggy Potter - would any one know any way to contact her! It's regarding a family death,
    Thank you,
    Ella

    ReplyDelete
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