Linton Lodge Hotel, Oxford .
It is difficult to know what to say this year when every meeting seems to excel the one before! But it is a fact that a new high was hit at the Linton Hotel, Oxford.
The venue was very good indeed: Oxford is eminently more accessible than Lewes had been and the hotel itself was comfortable and QUIET! I should record here my gratitude for the move to Lewes once Anthony had become frail in body - but not in mind!
The programme was particularly interesting to me as the appreciation of Anthony’s ability to wring every ounce of humour from a situation was overlaid with much attention to the essence of his writing: his humanity, political convictions and linguistic ability.
Dennis Butts gave a scholarly paper, which analysed one radio play according to the tenets of literary theory and actually suggested by a reference to an extract from The Caretaker an affinity with the writing of Harold Pinter. An accolade indeed!
Another highlight was a most moving reading of the poetry of Ernest Buckeridge, Anthony’s father: poetry, which reflected the events that the world was moving towards in 1912. This mood underlay much of his son’s zeitgeist for all its comic genius.
Jonathan used one of the meticulous ledgers kept by Anthony as an Archive: deductions from which illustrated the many ways in which publishing has changed over the last fifty years.
The Singletons, Peter and Linda, each presented memorable items.
Linda related the experience of some members of the group when they came to Lewes in December to see IT HAPPENED IN HAMELIN. Linda’s account of the hospitality they received at a Lewes establishment was actually shaming not only to Lewes ,a County Town, but also, to the reputation of the U.K. but , needless to say ,it was related with wit and great good humour.
To me, an old hand at the assessing business, Peter’s talk demonstrated what can be done with a text in the hands of an excellent teacher of English! He dealt with the Jack Carr ‘s car jack episode but omitted the bits that we are all so familiar with and thus directed our attention to the wry humour of other aspects of Anthony’s writing. Very clever!
A most fitting end to a successful meeting was provided by David Schutte. His direction of one of the radio plays has become something to be looked forward to for the past three years and this one proved no exception. I shall long remember Barbara’s gentle delivery of the final line and the look of relief on Bernard’s face as his Mr Wilkins was saved from the expected embarrassment
I should mention how interesting we all found Val Biro’s illustrated talk which traced his progress as a valued and regular contributor to the RADIO TIMES. Another addition to the programme was the fascinating account of Nicholas Aldridge of his memories as a new boy at prep school in 1948
All in all, Jonathan is to be congratulated and thanked for devising such a varied and interesting programme.