Tuesday, March 31, 2015

Encounter: Jeremy Thorpe

Jeremy was another friend from University days, who achieved the rare success of being elected as an MP, as a representative of the smallest of the three parties, for Liberals. He became notorious because of a sex scandal. He unsuccessfully sued a newspaper over allegations of sexual impropriety and was forced to resign his leadership position. We were never very close friends, but in the early seventies he came to San Francisco, where Barbara and I entertained him. He had great energy and charm, and I always felt that it was a tragedy that a man of his ability and ambition chosen at an early age to lead his parliamentary party to become the countries first Liberal Prime Minister in many years.

Tuesday, March 24, 2015

Encounter: Fraser McAllister

Fraser's father was the proprietor of the famous London store Harrods. I knew him at Oxford, where four of us put together what was then a brilliant one-time publication about the university. It was expensively printed on glossy paper, and on the cover were the words "Satire Takes the Lid off Oxford". We enlisted the help of some of our generations best known undergraduate writers, and we sold a lot of copies. Fraser was the editor-in-chief, and our acknowledged leader. I was the business manager: we didn't make a large profit, but we more than broke even, quite an accomplishment for an undergraduate magazine in the early fifties.

Tuesday, March 17, 2015

Encounter: Jimmy Carter

I preferred to fly into Gatwick years ago, when visiting England. This meant flying into Atlanta and changing planes, but it was worth it to avoid the hassle and frequent delays at Heathrow.
On one return journey, I had taken my seat well before takeoff on the left-hand side of the plane. I noticed the former president shaking hands with the first-class passengers seated on the right-hand of the plane. I moved over to the right side, correctly assuming that this famous glad-hander would continue. Sure enough he did as I had expected, and exchanged a few words of conventional greeting with everyone. Satisfied by the experience, I moved back to my assigned seat on the left side of the plane. Meantime, President Carter had shaken hands with everyone in economy, and there was still time for him to come back from business class into the first-class cabin, there was no way he could remember who he had already greeted, so I enjoyed a second handshake with Jimmy Carter that day.                          

Tuesday, March 10, 2015

Encounter: "Dr. Seuss" (Theodore Geisel)

Before Lincoln had its own development officer, it made use of a consultant with the appropriate name of "Howard Raingold". He and I were in touch, and one day he told me that Ted Geisel lived nearby. Howard wanted me to join him to give lunch to the famous author, who had spent some time at Lincoln.
Somehow, Howard was able to obtain a table for us at the Pacific Union Club, a private institution on Nob Hill.
The lunch was pleasant enough, but Ted Geisel told us that he had not enjoyed his time at Lincoln, and that he had no intention of making a donation or bequest to the college. So much for "Dr. Seuss".

Tuesday, March 3, 2015

Encounter: David Attenborough

It was probably in 1944 that I met David when we were both taking a shore course at the naval base near Kirkwall in the Orkney Islands. He was an junior RNVR officer, and of course his last name rang a bell with me. It turned out that he was, indeed, the younger brother of the noted film actor Richard Attenborough, who died in 2014. At the time, I just found it interesting to meet the younger brother of a famous actor. I had no inkling that David would soon be attaining his own fame as a broadcaster and naturalist.