Page 8, 13th December 1963

13th December 1963
Page 8
Page 8, 13th December 1963 — ALL SORTS by

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Locations: London, Oxford


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Fr. Bernard Bassett SI 1 habits; myself watch .1.v. 1)0 not knovs. your vicv■ing for half-an-hour, twice a sveck.

11,11`,1 I tiesday, however, vv as 1-':1141:leeriLirlecTiarlevo rR per v the Spurs

Manchester United Followed by Manchester United Followed by

Crusades. I switched on 11w .1 .V. set in Illy sombre, presbytery hasement: beneath Inv shabby cassock and dark blue pullover still heals a loyal (still heart!

One felt sorry for the untIcagrads of the University, of SilYsCsi, watched by the baleful I V camera av they wailed for the professor to arrive. Arc th'ev genuine students by the way and. it MI. wily need they sit before a *I V camera while digesting the professor's horning words'?

Certainly. they looked paint ally self-conscious hot, if yin; come 10 think of it. so would you in T. Surely there must he a lirst in London who hires out audiences, nicely designed to lit the subject and the man.

Were 1 !echoing 011 I he

Crusades. thought 1. I would 01 del' two beards, one Bea tic, lour smashing girls (more might distract the viewers), three swias, seven African or Asian scholar', and fourteen assorted historians who knew enough about the subject to smile and nod their heads.

You can tell my Oxford training -before the professor has even entered. I am thinking about laughs.


note, the great moment and the professor enters the arena with much loss confidence than the Spurs. The students supply sonic modest clapping. technicians }lash on the screen enormous snaps of crusading worthies while the musical director provides three brassy bars of Matador salute.

For one glorious moment nurse the hope that the Regius Professor would enter the lecture hall in armour and on it hired charger to give the students of Sussex University something to write home about. 'Not on your life!

Could I who had been an tindergrad with.Hugh Trevor-Roper have wanted the B.B.C'. to tamper with the professorial gait?

It is part of the great Oxford tradition that a don's walk should match the supercilious expression On the face, Certainly the fanfare of trumpets hardly fitted the Professor who seemed to he sucking a lozenge to the amusement of Saladin perched above his head.

How the years fell away as the lecturer commenced, When last we had met as undergrads, I was training as a Jesuit, he was a brilliant student with High Church leanings and a mass of information about Laud. Later. as I moved from one bleak (sobs). presbytery to another, I had watched and cheered Hugh's meteoric rise.

Was he or wasn't he the youngest Regius Professor since St. Frideswide's day? Stories had reached me from time to time and from a variety of sources. suggesting that the youngest Regius Professor was now vigorously antiCatholic. They said that he rarely. if ever. missed a chance to deride the Jesuits. to wallop the Pope, to lambast the Benedictines. to make merry over thc folly of Catholic prelates and over the frailty of Holy Mother Church.

I never had believed such stories and now. there he was standing before mc. surprisingly young. unexpectedly hesitant, sticking a lozenge on my T.V. screen.

Accolade As the lecture started. my fears were instantly dispelled. We, Oxford own. know all the types of donnish humour and Professor Trevor-Roper was up to all the tricks. He made the sly little joke the sarcastic remark which one _stn spot a mile off. the techMune el building up ant demolishing svbiel. us so effective anti seems t•1 say to each at the end of halfah tu.ur "Brother this is wnere you cam! it.". The students of the University of Susex rather over played their camera reactions; in the Oxford of my day. it was very had form during lectures to raise so much as an eye-lid-you wanted to look as though you wore laughing in your sleep.

If the B.B.C. camera had been able to penetrate to my bleak. presbytery basement. I. Ina. would have had to sit tip sliaighl like the late Queen Mary and to switch on an academic. grin. Happily I was free of all this. I could sprawl in my shabby soutane, giggle at

thejokesIslLoythem coming. nceiaRcitisinp‘ elf re Professor who could rely on Voltaire. Hume and Gibbon lor so much of his commentary.

Oxford is Oxford and Hugh Trevor-Roper would have smiled to sec me doubled up with adolescent laughter as he cracked his Oxford jokes shout Peter thc Martyr and awarded Saladin the accolade. After 25 scars. I picked up little memorable from this Ty, lecture hut then. unlike the tindergrads from Sussex. I was Oxford trained.


At the conclusion of this crusading lecture. I felt satiated and just a little sad. 1 he Oxford style of lecture does not come over on the T.V. screen. Like many another fragrant wine. it does not travel well. At the University itself, lectures. even by Regius Professors, are not taken too seriously. Other influences come into play. reading. tutorials. travel, conversation, to correct any false impression ot I he pseudo-saccadic style. so [resit :11 Oxford, begins to smell fishy on the Sussex downs so close to the sea. In my faded cassock, I telt that. even 1. eould take almost any sullies:I, profane or sacred and with the aid of blownup pictures and a bar or two or martial music make it appear The ttcgins I:rinfessor was

unfair. he was R t

professional, he seemed to have more than a lonnge in his check.

This return to Oxford by H.FLC, was unsatisfying but nostalgic. I admire the StISseN sltnlcnI,, salute with love the Regius but, next I nesday. will rest happy and contented with the Spars.

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