One of the chapters is entitled “Difficulties for Girls”. Those of us who were Mount’s Oxford contemporaries can vouch for what he calls his lack of “the elementary techniques of chatting up, or even chatting”. One dreaded being stranded at a drinks party with this modern incarnation of Sir Flopsy Bashville, the tongue-tied booby in a Restoration play. There was a hopeless purity about him. It is not at all surprising to discover from this book that while other Oxford freshmen were stocking up with Durex, he went out and bought himself a surplice costing £1 17s 6d. Infiltrated into a now rather famous flat in Woodstock Road, inhabited by four sex goddesses from Somerville, our inhibited hero does not know where to look. One of these alarmingly liberated girls, Margaret Callaghan, is now transformed into Baroness Jay of Paddington. Mount is fascinated by such changes worked by time.
Wednesday, June 18, 2008
The crash of skull against skull
More on Ferdinand Mount's autobiography, this time from Fiona MacCarthy in the TLS: