There is, I am pleased to say, an internationally known professor among them. Medium height, slight, but tough build; big head with a lot of naturally brown hair which makes him look younger than he is; blazing blue eyes set deep under bushy eye-brows, hawkish nose, sensuous upper lip, strong tenor voice, long chin. His eyes can have, given the circumstances, a demoniacal expression or else shine in such a heartwarming way that my children asked me once whether I could have considered marrying him. There is a brutal trait round his mouth which, when relaxed, I might find appealing – I kissed him once or twice.
He is a man of science and approaches religious matters in this capacity. He will accept and believe what science enables him to. In his view the church should do the same. He is interested in all the problems man as a physiological being is afflicted by. He knows that one of the latest and so far unbeatable diseases can be transmitted by saliva, which caused his wife to make the useful point about Holy-Communion being most unhygienic, since the same cup is used by everybody. He anticipates little sympathy for this problem from the local vicar and has therefore given his opinion in writing to a very high dignitary of the church.
On the whole he has a gloomy picture of the state mankind is in, producing scientific evidence that many problems are caused by various types of pollution and by deficiency in certain metals and other chemical elements.
When I first met him, he smiled about my quite unnecessary concern relating to chemical fertilizer. He has now collected a certain amount of scientific evidence supporting my view, but reckons he does not yet have quite enough to speak up.
Once he does speak up, he is the most fearful partner in any TV-discussion. In fact people are known to have refused their participation when he was due to be there, too. He is present-minded and sharp-witted, baffling people into silence, and before they can recover, he is on to the next point.
He likes to give us little lectures occasionally in private conversation, which we gratefully accept. It is so interesting. Certain subjects are particularly dear to his heart, and he does not tire giving us his views about them.
He is a most musical man, a good singer and a talented, if at times a little chaotic, pianist. He refuses to play Bach whose discipline, I imagine, is not in keeping with his temperament. His favourite is Chopin whose music he plays with fire. He kindly complies with our wishes for pieces of music we would like to hear, either playing the piano or singing, the latter sometimes difficult or impossible because, he says, he has a frog in his throat. He does not enjoy modern music nor Wagner; in the latter’s works, he told me, there is too much physical love; also there is an absence of tunes.. I once made him listen to a scene from the Flying Dutchman, which he called “quite nice”.
In general he keeps an open mind about things and is willing to accept arguments, if only his own. He was a staunch supporter of the church and called me a “naughty girl” for not being one, too, inferring that I was arrogant, but conceded that I might be too intelligent, or something on these lines, for that. A fortnight later he had reversed his views about the church, mainly because he had observed a decline in musical standards. He did not tell me whether he had reversed his views about me, too.
He does not quite know what to think of me and feels a little uneasy about my writing a book. When they visited us recently, together with another couple, he said gloomily that he could see everybody, including him, in it. I do not know why he should be apprehensive about it. He inquired whether I had a publisher lined up yet. Much to his surprize I answered in the affirmative without giving any details. He did not dare proceed further. Next time I saw him, he called me clever. I thought he was going to pay me a compliment on writing books – no ! clever because I had a publisher lined up. He must be worried. No need to tell him that the publisher does not know yet.
There is a funny side to him, too. He is willing to partake in any joke and is mostly ready to laugh. He sometimes obliges the merry company by singing a song about a farmer keeping pigs, making all the snorting noises in a way perfectly true to nature. This song, he told us, is particularly appreciated by his young grand-children.
I should imagine he can, given the circumstances, laugh about himself, but would not commit myself, never having actually witnessed it. He does not like to see serious things laughed about, like the above-mentioned new disease which some tasteless author made fun of in a pantomime.
He likes women, in particular blond ones, he told us, pulling his wife’s hair, and fast lady-journalists who may have lunch with him. At college many years ago he was the only gentleman among a great number of ladies. He has met ladies of the royal family, and on one of his pianos at home there is a framed photograph showing him with one of them. On the whole he considers that women should stay at home and look after the family. He also gave them a piece of advice how best to catch men : run away from them ! This reassured me, because I felt I must have done the right thing in my life.
He has a wonderful practical side about him, enabling him to settle any mechanical, electrical or other problem occurring in the house. He also makes inventions from time to time which he mostly manages to sell to the Americans.
He is a truly English all-round man for whom I have great admiration.