Betjeman, MacNeice and Lewis in 1927

Monday 24th January 1927

Bussed back into town and to Betjeman's rooms in St Aldates — a v. beautiful panelled room looking across to the side of the House.   found myself pitchforked into a galaxy of super-undergraduates, including Sparrow of the Nonesuch Press.  The only others I remember are Harwood of the House (no relation) and an absolutely silent and astonishingly ugly person called McNeice, of whom Betjeman said afterwards "He doesn't say much but he is a great poet".  It reminded me of the man in Boswell "who was always thinking of Locke and Newton".  his silent bard comes from Belfast or rather Carrickfergus.  The conversation was chiefly about lace curtains, arts-and-crafts (wh. they all dislike}, china ornaments, silver versus earthen teapots, architecture, and the strange habits of "Hearties".  The best thing was Betjeman's v. curious collection of books.

Came away with him and back to College to pull him along thro' Wulfstan till dinner time.  In spite of all his rattle he is really just as ignorant and stupid as Valentin.

C.S. Lewis
All My Road Before Me (1991)

[Image : Louis Macneice at Oxford]

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