Saturday, 16 November 2013

malcolm parkes

On my way to Oxford and the memorial service for Malcolm Parkes ( who taught me when I was at Keble.

Malcolm was one of two tutors who interviewed me for a place at Keble. For much of that half-hour, though, it was difficult to see him. He was seated in a bay window smoking his pipe and it was only when he wanted to ask a question that his hand batted away the smoke and his face appeared momentarily.

I owe Malcolm, Stephen Wall and Frank Cottrell Boyce (who marked one of my two entrance papers) so much. Sitting the Oxford entrance exam and those thirty minutes being interviewed by Malcolm and Stephen were events that changed my life.

Malcolm was a hugely inspiring academic but also a very warm, kind man. I remember how he arrived at my door the day before my first-year exams (moderations) and handed me a packet of sweets and wished me good luck.

As a tutor, he gave me a love of Anglo-Saxon and Middle English literature that will stay with me always.

The last time we met, I heard his voice first as he called out his habitual greeting, 'Hello squire!' While he was frailer than even a year before, which was a shock, he was in good spirits and it was lovely to see him. We were in Sainsbury's in Kidlington.

It's a grey misty, cocooning day in west Oxfordshire as the 18 bus carries me through the autumn countryside. A melancholy day, perhaps, when I think of how long ago that interview was. Yet a beautiful day too - and I try to remember that my time at Keble taught me to value every day and all the opportunities it offers.
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A Conscious Englishman by Magaret Keeping - StreetBooks Kindle edition published 16.08.13 - visit for details

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1 comment:

  1. I enjoyed your beautiful words about Malcolm Parkes. Like you, I read English at Keble. Gentlemen are required to translate the Life of King Edmund... A truly humane, considerate and talented teacher.