Magazine article The Spectator

Books of the Year - Bevis Hillier

Magazine article The Spectator

Books of the Year - Bevis Hillier

Article excerpt

For Alan Bennett fans, a rare treat is in store this season. His former Oxford college, Exeter, has produced a selection from the Junior Common Room (JCR) suggestion book of his 1950s days.

(I am surprised to learn that the shy, selfdeprecating Bennett became president of the JCR -- a post normally held by thrusting public-school rugger blues. ) What puts this volume way above the usual 'Sir - Could somebody please give the JCR fender a lick of Brasso?' are not only the often priceless comments of Bennett (Ned Sherrin and Russell Harty were there too), but the incredibly accomplished drawings of Bennett and others by John Morley, a future director of the Royal Pavilion, Brighton, and of Gothic architecture (Charles Addams style) by Brian Brindley, who became a priest.

Bennett contributes a nostalgic foreword. Near the end of the book are pages of interest to those who relish filthy limericks. (Try 'There was a young bird of St Hilda's'). Ask for Exeter College, Oxford JCR Suggestion Book, edited by J.G. Spiers and J.P. Leighfield (Exeter College, £15).

Canon Professor Nicholas Orme, DD, D. …

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