Wednesday, October 31, 2012

Hurricane Sandy 3

The first point is that in my neighborhood of New Haven we were astonishingly lucky. It could have been so much worse; the difference between us and what we are now seeing in lower Manhattan, the borough of Queens and New Jersey may be attributed to the random distance of sixty insignificant miles, and the storm was more than 1,000 miles in diameter. Pure luck. The second point is one that persons who have lived through a cyclone or hurricane often make, but which is incomprehensible if you have not experienced it at first hand: The sound. It is not a roar, even above the sickening cracks of big trees snapping in half like toothpicks, one by one, all around you, so much as a mighty and, to me, terrifying howl, with industrial base-notes of steam train, and at very close proximity. Mercifully this lasted only for a comparatively brief period from approximately 5.30 p.m. on Monday evening (when, of course, we lost power) until about 10.30 p.m., at which point the whole thing stopped, and there were even glimpses of a cold full moon. It did go on, of course, for much of the night, but intermittently. In the late afternoon, before the theatrics set in, the sky turned a deep pea green; I have only once seen anything like it, and that was when Mark Aronson and I narrowly dodged a tornado that mowed across Springfield, Mass., last year or the year before—I forget. At about 2 o’clock on Monday afternoon the clouds stopped scudding, and started sprinting most unnaturally. I gathered up a few precious things, and pathetically stowed them in the linen cupboard, as if this would have made the slightest difference had the roof come off. Still, it was as well to be kept busy. After dark I repaired to the basement with my duvet, pillow, flashlight, bottled water, and what remained of my supply of Fortnums fudge. I sat there feeling scared and stupid, mainly scared. You cannot sleep in case something serious strikes the house, or floods the basement, or the neighbors strike similar problems, and, of course, with cell phone coverage swept away, you are totally in the dark not only literally but figuratively also. At the head of my shopping list this week is an old-fashioned transistor radio, or, better still, a hand-cranked clockwork one for real emergencies. That, and a generator. I am not quite sure why one clings to total irrationality in situations such as this, but for some reason the fact that the power is still off—and the fridge full of slowly rotting foodbothers me far more than it would otherwise because I make out my monthly check to a relatively small but profitable corporation that persists in calling itself, in the face of overwhelming evidence to the contrary, The United Illuminating Company.

Monday, October 29, 2012

Hurricane Sandy 2

The atmosphere in New Haven this morning has shifted from portentous to frankly strange. Nothing much at all is happening, yet. The phone rang well before dawn, and it was dear Uncle Alec—calling from his magnificent longhorn cattle estancia at Fingal on the Mornington Peninsula, to make sure I am all right. He’s now going to bed, as is the rest of Australia. But I am getting up. The newspaper was delivered as usual, as it was on the morning of Hurricane Irene last year. The city also kindly collected the rubbish, an almost heroic gesture in the circumstances. It has evidently been raining all night, though it best resembles just now what the Irish call a “soft,” a fine swirling drizzle, but notably cooler than last evening. Gusts of wind that normally one would regard as empty puff, seem rather more ominous amid all the canceled flights, trains and emergency preparedness measures that have kicked in all the way from the Carolinas to Massachusetts—as well as several hundreds of thousands of poor souls urged to evacuate their neighborhoods. We are told to follow the directions of our local and state government officials. In due course those gusts promise at the very least to complete the work of the fall, in short order. The sugar maples are now almost entirely bare, but like a mad and restless child the wind is tossing their leaves all over the place. The sound of a winter wind is bleak and barren, but the fall adds texture. The small note is a rustle, but the wooded hillside opposite is producing now a rhythmical ebb and surge, uncannily marine in character, which at this stage is almost comforting. From my bedroom window I see the single, wholly contingent wire that droops wearily from the corner of my house all the way across to the far side of Chapel Street and a messy aggregation of fixtures that cling there to an ancient wooden pole. This doubles as the host for a very old street light, but the pole leans alarmingly shy of vertical. The wire is now swinging in the wind from side to side like some malnourished lazybones in his hammock, fodder for any one of a dozen potentially dangerous branches that could easily snap off through the next twenty-four hours, maybe longer. In fact the first of these cracked with the sickening loudness of rotten timber just five minutes ago, mercifully just beyond my northern boundary in the other direction. This first casualty gave up the ghost before whatever battle lies ahead of us has even begun. It is surely significant that well into the second decade of the twenty-first century one faces the almost certain prospect of power loss, probably for days, with an air of complete resignation, due to the hopelessness of our electrical infrastructure. In a land of blizzards and hurricanes and forests, why would any thinking person persist with the nineteenth-century project of stringing little wires from post to post? Reinvent the system, and put them all below ground where they belong.

Sunday, October 28, 2012

Hurricane Sandy

The atmosphere this morning in New Haven is eerily portentous. The birds are simply beside themselves, and four large hawks are wheeling high above me now, evidently taking advantage of eccentric rodent movements over the wooded hillside opposite. The sky has a weird pallor, a lowering carpet sullenness that I do not recall ever having seen before. The streets are almost empty. Were it not for a sense of overriding natural indifference, one might think of certain atmospherics in Guy Mannering or, come to think of it, Ivanhoe: “‘A murrain take thee,’ rejoined the swineherd; ‘wilt thou talk of such things, while a terrible storm of thunder and lightning is raging within a few miles of us? Hark, how the thunder rumbles! and for summer rain, I never saw such broad downright flat drops fall out of the clouds; the oaks too, notwithstanding the calm weather, sob and creak with their great boughs as if announcing a tempest. Thou can’st play the rational if thou wilt; credit me for once, and let us home ere the storm begins to rage, for the night will be fearful.’” On the other hand, Hurricane Sandy might fizzle but I rather doubt it. My money is with the swineherd.

A murrain, incidentally, is an archaic term for various infectious diseases affecting cattle and sheep, hence its use here as a curse.

Sunday, October 21, 2012

The journey

I have lately signed up to participate in the Genographic Project. This remarkable effort by the National Geographic Society “is an ambitious attempt to help answer fundamental questions about where we originated and how we came to populate the earth.” All you need to do is buy the kit, follow the instructions, take a swab, post it off to the lab, and wait patiently.

When DNA (Deoxyribonucleic acid) is passed from one generation to the next, most of it is recombined by processes that endow each of us with our individuality. But some portions of DNA remain largely intact through the generations, altered only occasionally by spontaneous mutations, the equivalent of a genetic spelling or typographical error.


Such mutations survive in the form of genetic markers, of which approximately 150,000 have now been reliably isolated. These markers allow geneticists to map with extraordinary precision our common evolutionary development through innumerable generations, and to all the different regions through which man has gradually migrated (or not) since we originated with a single ancestor who lived in Africa approximately 140,000 years ago.


This in turn has made possible the study of genetic anthropology, whose value, among many other things, is to impress upon all people everywhere the shared aspects of our descent from that common ancestor, and even the extent to which we preserve within ourselves a measure of contact between some of our most distant ancestors and now extinct hominid cousins in the Neanderthal and Denisovan families. There is also the advantage of building a sufficiently large database that will help medical scientists to get to the bottom of certain diseases for which there may be some not yet sufficiently understood genetic predisposition.

According to the Project website, the human body is composed of trillions of cells, which form the basic units of life and combine to form more complex tissues and organs. Inside each cell, genes make up a sort of blueprint for protein production that determines how each will function. Genes also determine physical characteristics or traits. The complete set of some 20,000 to 25,000 genes is called the genome. Only a tiny fraction of the genome sets the human body apart from those of other animals, which, incidentally, is another reason why the Genographic Project is an important one to participate in. We are not merely urged to see ourselves as distant cousins of all other people, but as far more closely related to many other forms of life on earth than we have ever before been inclined fully to grasp.

Mostly half of the genes that make up our genome came from our father, and half from our mother. Each half represents a shuffled combination of DNA passed down to us from our ancestors. This process of shuffling, recombination, and shuffling again, generation after generation, makes it impossible to trace lines of descent because it creates an ever new genetic mixture of all our ancestors.

Fortunately for anthropological geneticists, however, there are parts of the genome that are passed intact from parent to child, and have not been shuffled at all. In these segments the genetic code varies only when from time to time spontaneous mutations occur at random.

The Y chromosome is the sex-determining chromosome in humans. While all other chromosomes are found in matching pairs, it is the mismatch of the Y chromosome with its partner, the X chromosome, that determines gender—men have a mismatched pair (Y and X), while women have two X chromosomes. Because the Y chromosome does not have a matching chromosome, most of it escapes the shuffling process. The Y chromosome passes intact from father to son, altered only by occasional mutations.

The mitochondrial genome is the female counterpart of the Y chromosome. Mitochondria are self-reproducing structures found inside the cells of all higher organisms, typically present in hundreds of copies per cell. They are responsible for generating most of the energy used by the cell. Because there are no mitochondria in the head of a mature sperm, they are passed down solely from mother to child, and thenceforth through successive generations of daughters, granddaughters, and so on.

One region of particular importance in mitochondrial DNA is the so-called hypervariable region, where the pace of mutation is up to a hundred times faster than that of the nuclear genome. Because of its much shorter length (several hundred nucleotides versus millions of nucleotides for the Y chromosome), the hypervariable region can be scanned quickly and reveals many highly informative mutational events that have been passed down through the matriline.

So we have much to learn from the Y chromosome DNA we inherited from Dad and the mitochondrial DNA from Mum, but the exact shape of what is effectively an immense whole-of-population family tree is further shaped to a larger or lesser degree by evolutionary forces, most importantly natural selection, migration, and what is known as genetic drift.

Except for religious zealots, everyone outside certain of the United States of America knows what natural selection is, and how Charles Darwin and others discovered how it works to preserve and refine beneficial genetic mutations and to eliminate harmful ones—insuring the survival of the fittest, although evidently this does not apply to those males of the species who currently run the international financial and investment banking sectors. Likewise, the impact of vastly different natural environments through which humans have migrated—hot ones, cold ones, wet ones, dry ones, mountainous ones, or marshy ones—have had an obvious impact upon the mechanisms of natural selection in different places and through different ages.

However, some genetic changes, such as “allele frequency,” occur randomly within discrete sub-populations and are duly passed from parent to child—thus imposing a further shaping influence upon human evolution. Allele frequency is the measurable change in the frequency of a gene variant or allele in populations due to random sampling. The effect of this genetic drift varies sharply with the size of sub-populations. Small sub-populations confined for very long periods to a distant and rarely visited island, for example—think Iceland, think Tasmania, think Madagascar—are subject to much greater genetic drift for the same reason that scoring seven heads and three tails after ten coin tosses is far, far more likely to occur than scoring 700,000 heads after one million tosses.

Fascinating, yes, but what does it all add up to?

Approximately 60,000 years ago homo sapiens very nearly became extinct, as eventually the Neanderthals and Denisovans did, though not before successfully mating with our ancestors when they encountered one another in Eurasia not too long afterwards. (Those of us who stayed put in sub-Saharan Africa never had this opportunity.) It is worth repeating: We almost vanished from the face of the earth before we even started our common journey; it was a very close call. 

At that time, pressed by some combination of presumably terrible circumstances, groups separating from as few as 2,000 surviving specimens of homo sapiens set out from the Asaf Depression in Ethiopia: north, west, and south. 

By 50,000 years ago, our ancestors had successfully multiplied, pulling back from the brink of extinction, fanning across south Asia and across the land bridge into Australia. By 40,000 years ago we had pushed into Mesopotamia and through Southeast Asia and up into China. By 30,000 years ago we had crossed back over Central Asia, and by that route into Northern Europe. At around the same time some of us double-backed from Central Asia and headed down into the Indian subcontinent. 20,000 years ago there was a great migration from East Asia over another land bridge into North America and ownards into South America. 

10,000 years ago further migrations occurred from the Middle East through southern Europe and across North Africa, in other words around both sides of the Mediterranean Sea; from Southeast Asia into what turned into the Indonesian archipelago, and a fresh wave from Northeast Asia into North America. These most recent global shifts in population appear to have coincided with the invention of agriculture, though there is mounting evidence that much earlier fire was successfully manipulated to “manage” natural environments, especially in Australia. 

We do not know when or how language gradually developed over these massively long periods, but it was probably very early. We mastered the horse in approximately 4,000 to 3,500 B.C. Certainly writing and numbers were invented soon afterwards in Mesopotamia, in approximately 3,200 B.C., and, quite separately, in Central America in about 600 B.C. Most intellectual, philosophical, scientific, artistic and many other attainments have occurred since then, barely 5,500 years in a 60,000-year journey. We have come an awfully long way, but before too long my three brothers and I will know much more about the approximate route our own people took.

Saturday, October 20, 2012

Donna the deer lady

Not long ago, a young woman who works as a receptionist for a medical practice in Fargo, North Dakota, rang the local breakfast radio program. The call, which has since gone viral, made it clear that the woman had three separate car accidents involving deer, and her proposal, her plea, her cry in the wilderness, was: Why on earth can’t they simply move the deer crossing signs on busy roads and interstate highways to safer or more convenient places such as school crossings, or less populated areas? This young woman was, to the stupefaction and amusement of her hosts, clearly laboring under the misapprehension that deer signs designate a sort of pedestrian crossing for the convenience of deer, and are not in fact a warning to motorists. To be fair, her argument was based on weird logic: If only the signs were moved, fewer deer would get hurt. Profound stupidity can be funny. No doubt this explains why the call went viral. Yet there are a few other dimensions to this odd vignette that are uniquely and deliciously American. In a subsequent call, Donna the deer lady—as she has since become known—bravely acknowledged her original mistake. She said that she had grown up in a comparatively isolated rural community in North Dakota, and was therefore, by implication, somewhat insulated from the ways of more urbanized patches of civilization—for not long ago she moved with her husband to Fargo. She loves animals. She even warmly thanked the radio station for being so nice to her in the first place. Having been held up to ridicule by millions, this last point seems almost as ill-judged as the original call. Still, from the midst of her mental fog, which one hopes is now beginning to clear, Donna also demonstrated an admirable degree of determination to urge those in authority to address a problem of public concern, and in language framed by directness, persistence, but courtesy. She wrote to the newspaper. She contacted her local television station. She managed to get herself on the radio. Her expectation was that something could and should be done, and she would tackle it herself. She now accepts that a solution is probably to be found somewhere else. Good on her. No doubt we all have blind spots, and it would be unwise to pretend that we do not harbor within certain black holes of ignorance. Admittedly, one likes to think that road signs are mostly self-explanatory, but clearly this is not necessarily the case. Indeed, it is as sobering an experience to be made aware of your own blind spot as it is amusing to identify a great big one exhibited so publicly to the embarrassment of someone else. In that event I doubt if I could react as graciously as Donna the deer lady has, or exhibit such exemplary humility.

Wednesday, October 17, 2012


The news that Prince Norodom Sihanouk died in Beijing last Monday came as a surprise to me, for I had no idea the wily old fox was still alive. He was just a few days short of his ninetieth birthday. I can think of few public figures who have survived more alarming political vicissitudes through the past seven decades, or ever formed more dubious, even baffling alliances, often in the name of “non-alignment”—beginning with his very first.

In April 1941, aged eighteen, Prince Sihanouk was plucked from the Lycée Chasseloup Laubat in Saigon, and selected to succeed his maternal grandfather, King Monivong of Cambodia. This decision was taken in Hanoi by the governor-general of French Indochina, Admiral Jean Decoux, with the express approval of the Vichy government of Marshal Pétain. Their thinking appears to have been either that because he was a descendant of both the Sisowath and the Norodom branches of the hopelessly divided Cambodian royal family Sihanouk would bring about a general reconciliation, or, more probably, that he would be a pliant servant of the French colonial administration. Communications between Hanoi and Paris at that time are obscure on this point, presumably because cables and other messages were routinely intercepted by the allies. In due course neither French ambition was realized, but for the time being Norodom Sihanouk reigned as king in Phnom Penh, and was therefore possibly the single most durable creation of Vichy, even I daresay the only one that lasted as long as until last Monday.

In 1945, after the liberation of France but before the end of the war in the Pacific, King Sihanouk’s government played the enormously dangerous game of throwing in their lot with the Japanese as a lever against the French colonial administration of Indochina, and of separation from Vietnam. As a consequence, Sihanouk’s prime minister Son Ngoc Thanh was arrested and tried in postwar France for collaboration with the Japanese. The king not only survived this, but became the first crowned head to pay a state visit to France after the end of the war (in 1946)—the sort of breathtaking volte-face for which he became noted in subsequent decades.

In the later 1940s and early 1950s, King Sihanouk maneuvered his way, first, into a form of semi-autonomy from France, and eventually full independence for Cambodia at the end of 1953, the result of a world tour in which he gave shrill press conferences that sufficiently embarrassed the French. In 1955 Sihanouk abdicated the throne in favor of his father (who had never previously occupied it) and “entered politics,” where he remained in charge—variously as prime minister, sovereign prince, chief of state, president, and later chief of state for life—until 1970 when Prime Minister Lon Nol carried out a rightist, American-backed coup d’état, at which point Sihanouk fled to the People’s Republic of China.

Through those middle years in power, Sihanouk strove to maintain the neutrality of Cambodia. He was not alone in pursuing the goal of “non-alignment,” but this led him into increasingly chaotic dalliances with socialist and communist forces at home and abroad. Among the international thugs with whom he was from time to time cheerfully photographed were the creepy Ceaucescus of Rumania, and Mao. To be fair, Sihanouk’s aim was somehow not to get squashed by an impossible vise formed by, on the one hand, Cambodia’s traditional enemy the old Empire of Vietnam, and, on the other, the superpowers who concerned themselves with her fate—the United States and the Soviet Union. He also held neighboring Thailand at arm’s length, but equally from time to time removed himself to Bangkok by way of erratic and usually short-lived political protest over some unwelcome political development in Phnom Penh. Most importantly, Sihanouk provided unofficial hospitality (perhaps under duress) to Viet Cong forces operating across the border into South Vietnam, which duly brought upon Cambodia President Nixon’s extensive secret bombing campaign and the American invasion of 1970. During much of the period when China was effectively closed to the outside world, Sihanouk enjoyed friendly relations with Chou En Lai, and, eventually, with Kim Il-Sung of North Korea. It certainly helped that China and Cambodia shared ancient enmities with Vietnam. During one of his regular therapeutic visits to the South of France, Prince Sihanouk was dismayed when someone mistook him for Bao Dai, the last Emperor of Vietnam.

It now seems incredible that Prince Sihanouk felt able to lend his prestige as the nominal head of state of Cambodia to Pol Pot’s murderous Khmer Rouge regime. This filled the political vacuum at the end of the Vietnam War through the dark years between 1975 and 1978, though it is also true that soon after the beginning of that period Sihanouk was placed under house arrest and several of his many children were murdered. Indeed Sihanouk’s alliance with the Khmer Rouge only makes sense if you bear in mind his overriding and increasing desperation to preserve Cambodian independence, come what may. When the Vietnamese invaded Cambodia in 1978, Sihanouk fled back to China, and, in the early 1980s, actually resumed his unsavory political alliance with the remnants of the Khmer Rouge, among other fragmented political forces in exile. He was eventually allowed to return to Phnom Penh in 1991, this time with United States support, after an agreement was brokered by France between the Vietnamese-backed government of Prime Minister Hun Sen and Sihanouk’s government in exile. He was restored to the throne two years later. Due to mounting tensions with Hun Sen, and between Hun Sen and Sihanouk’s second son Prince Norodom Ranariddh, in 2004 King Sihanouk abdicated again, this time in favor of one of his younger sons, the present King Norodom Sihamoni. Sihanouk then resumed his self-imposed exile in China.

There is no way of knowing, but I suspect that Prince Norodom Sihanouk generated more head-scratching diplomatic cables, despatches, and confidential ministerial briefing notes between the increasingly perplexed representatives of foreign governments than anyone else in the terrible twentieth century, apart from De Gaulle, Nasser, or Mao, but unlike them he occupied some sort of international political stage for no fewer than 71 years, arguably longer, since the question of his accession to the throne of Cambodia preoccupied the French colonial authorities for some years prior to 1941.

Among his various wives and concubines were not one but two of his own comparatively youthful aunts. Like the present King of Thailand, Prince Sihanouk enjoyed playing jazz. He also liked to sing songs of his own composition, and, for a while in the 1960s, indulged a passion for semi-professional film-making. You couldn’t really make it up.

Sunday, October 14, 2012

The Palais

This morning I re-discovered my very earliest appearance in print, this small clipping proudly tucked down near the bottom of the second page of my first scrapbook.

Towards the end of 1974 my eldest brother Nick, who at that date was writing for Lot’s Wife, the student newspaper at Monash University, kindly delegated to me the task of furnishing a theatrical notice of the opening night performance in the old Palais Theatre in St. Kilda of the A. V. Alexandrov Soviet Army Twice Red-Bannered and Red-Starred Song and Dance Ensemble. No doubt this heavily subsidized event was a direct consequence of well-meaning but fruitless cultural diplomacy in the last years of the Whitlam government, but the two complimentary press tickets passed along by Nick’s editor at length allowed me to accompany Aunt Anne, and to take advantage of the pair of powerful agricultural binoculars which she always took along with her to the theater. I recall I wore school uniform, and was thrilled to be allowed to stay up so late. With consummate professionalism I returned my notice to Nick first thing the following morning, and it was duly published a week later:
Our intrepid reviewer Angus Trumble (age ten) went to the premiere of the Soviet Army Song and Dance Band at the Palais last week and writes... “By ten to eight twenty-four people were in the lounge. I thought it was a very bad night for an opening. By the time of the start forty-nine people had assembled in the lounge. I thought that there was too much of the same sort of singing. In the first half of the show there was ballet which was a bit long and loud. Altogether I thought it was most enjoyable, but I don’t recommend children of my age coming.”
This now strikes me as the model of concision, a quality has through intervening decades all but disappeared from my prose style. However, I am pleased to see that the habit of at least trying to isolate the telling detail was already firmly established. (The lounge,” incidentally, was the equivalent of the dress circle.) My point about it being a very bad night for an opening was, upon much reflection now, almost certainly Aunt Anne’s, but I am still most grateful for it. However, the mixed assessment in conclusion was obviously colored by that genetically encoded predisposition from which Trumbles appear to suffer in every generation, namely a deep reluctance to give offense, to rock boats, or, at the very least, amply to make provision of any and all benefits of the doubt. Regrettably, to be honest, I have no recollection of any particular enjoyment of that long, martial entertainment 38 years ago.

Now I wonder which of those other forty-eight audience members was a covert representative of the federal government’s counterespionage service, sent to keep a watchful eye on everyone else, on both sides of the footlights. Alas, it was definitely not my late cousin and godmother Janet.

Saturday, October 13, 2012


My dear colleague Richard Warren, Jr., who was since 1970 curator of the historic sound recordings and American musical theater collections within the Irving S. Gilmore Music Library here at Yale, died last Sunday as the consequence of a bad stroke he suffered two weeks earlier. He was seventy-five.

I got to know Richard over the past few years when, from time to time, and with increasing excitement, in his subterranean, sound-proof Aladdin’s Cave, he made it possible for me to mine his collection, and to compile a sound program to accompany our exhibition Edwardian Opulence: British Art at the Dawn of the Twentieth Century, which opens at the Yale Center for British Art here in New Haven, Conn., next February 28 (2013).

The principal question that prompted me to undertake this task in the first place was whether there was any tangible advantage to be gained from taking the measure of the Edwardians bequest to posterity of the sound of their collective voice. On an elementary level there is something visceral about seeing a portrait of Vita Sackville-West or Melba and being able to hear them also. But in mostly later recordings, usually of BBC Radio broadcasts, many of the themes of the exhibition, it seemed to me, were literally enunciated by writers, thinkers, and artists in rather more subtle, but no less intriguing ways. Might we see the art of the Edwardians in a different light, or with a sharper focus, if we took a little time simply to hear them speak their mind? Our visitors will have to judge this for themselves, but the experiment has been wholly engrossing.  

In the beginning Richard was quite cautious, as if he were shrewdly sizing me up as a potential user of his exceptionally fine collection. But before long he must have concluded that I was on the level, and eventually we spent many dozens of hours usually on a Thursday or Friday afternoon working our way through a mountain of rare sound recordings (often several different versions of essentially the same thing); deciding which ones were ideal, which ones were merely great or good, and which ones we could definitely scratch from our list—and how to dice the ones that passed muster neatly into bite-sized morsels with which we might tempt our visitors in a compellingly interactive way. Richard was careful, indeed quite pleased, to point out that although the Yale collection of historic sound recordings was not the largest in the United States—I believe that prize goes to the relevant section of the Library of Congress in Washington, D.C.—it is nevertheless the collection that contains a larger number of unique survivals than any other. And that particular achievement is almost entirely due to Richard’s patient but dogged collecting activities over the past 46 years, based on a lifetime’s accumulation of expert knowledge.

Throughout our work together Richard was supremely generous with his time, and that knowledge, especially the technological side. Indeed, Richard became increasingly enthusiastic about our project, so that from time to time he came up with wonderful things the existence of which I was wholly ignorant, but which he knew would not only be germane but entirely indispensable. I think in particular of a batty radio play Richard unearthed, entitled To Meet the King, in which it emerges at length that the great Edwardian actress Sybil Thorndike was portraying an elderly lady in the grip of a most unusual hallucination connected with her unmarried cricket-playing son Ronnie, an aviator. Simply unmissable. 

In short, we enjoyed a wonderful collaboration, the equal of any I have been fortunate to undertake within this remarkable university, and I shall always treasure the memory of my far too brief association with Richard Warren, Jr., as indeed we now mourn the loss of a valued colleague, and a good and wise friend.