The best Champagne
‘,…Short of the best—which some may find an extravagance at eight pounds—it doesn’t make sense to buy champagne. The five pound variety is rarely worth the price. Since competitive alternatives can be had for half as much. From France, the dry sparkling wines of Seyssel are often the equal of medium-priced champagne. California “ champagne” ( the long arm of the French labelling law does not reach across the Atlantic ) can also be quite decent; the best are Korbel Natural and Hans Kornell.
The best college at Oxford
‘Magdalen, both the most beautiful and the most intellectually diverse. Christ Church is an unreconstructed sanctuary of the worst in British snobbery; Balliol is like an American law school, full of politics and ambition. Magdalen has everything : class warfare on even terms, superb tutors, an immense spectrum of interests and tastes’. Other colleges are available…
The best diet
‘The crashing bore of it all. Everyone knows what the best diet is…Lean meat, cottage cheese. Skim milk, an occasional slice of bread or a baked potato, fresh fruit and veggies; no skipping breakfast, apples and carrot sticks for snacks, plenty of leafy greens to prevent the inevitable…The only thing wrong with the diet—besides the fact that no one in his right mind would stick to it –is that calorie recommendations are too generous, even for the intended audience… Continue reading
A L Rowse (centre), Roger Makins and Evelyn Baring photographed in 1926 by Lady Ottoline Morrell,
We found some pages cut out from an undated issue of The Contemporary Reviewin the Jot 101 archive the other day. These seven pages contain an article by A. L. Rowse entitled ‘All Souls Stories’, and like so many of the historian’s writings on his old college, mix amusing gossip with valuable reflections on academic bad behaviour.
All Souls, as Rowse admits, has always aroused curiosity and astonishment from outsiders, including those from the University itself. Why are some graduate contenders elected and others rejected? Is success in a formal examination the sole route to a life fellowship? What part did the legendary cherry stone problem play in the process? If fellows are the crème de la crème of academic excellence at the University and beyond it, why is it that some Fellows are evidently not of this calibre ?
Rowse gives an example of one particular Fellow whose behaviour suggested that he was not up to the job, Sir ( later Viscount) John Simon. For some reason this nitwit managed to be appointed Home Secretary, Foreign Secretary, Chancellor of the Exchequer and Lord Chancellor, while being ‘ not much good’ in any of these posts, according to Rowse, who obviously knew the man well enough to make this judgment. Rowse recalls him addressing the Junior Fellows in an attempt at bonhomie, while managing to get their names all wrong. Then there was the time that the newly married Simon and his wife arrived at what they thought was the home of Lord Courtney, a pro-Boer politician, only to find that they had come to the home of W.L.Courtney, then editor of The Fortnightly Review. There was also the time that Simon found himself talking in ‘ labourious’ French to the French Ambassador, who turned out to be Frederick Kenyon, Director of the British Museum. Simon, according to Rowse, also made a mess of handling Hitler and Mussolini. Rowse charitably called this incompetence examples of Simon being ‘ accident prone ‘.Most non-All Souls men would see them as acts of blithering idiocy. Continue reading