In early December the great freeze was beginning to grip the country.
And in early December Jock and I became locked into a personal
world. Only one or two intimate friends knew I was at the Shack.
It was blissful, though at times hilariously difficult.
For six weeks I had travelled East from Sydney in a little grey
ship fat with cargo and forty eight passengers crammed into accommodation
built for twelve. She was incongruously named Javanese Prince.
Having trodden my loving family almost literally underfoot in
a selfish flurry of problems - excited, apprehensive, sad, joyful,
exhausted, uprooted - I said goodbye and watched Sydney's evening
glow fall behind as we headed for Panama and into a storm in the
Tasman Sea. When the storm abated after four days the crowded
decks resembled a sea-lion colony at breeding time. We sailed
on through time zones and flying-fish to the astonishing jungle-edged
machinery of the Panama Canal - was this the Pacific Ocean or
the Caribbean Sea? - and then through the islands and out into
a rolling, stormy-grey Atlantic. Finally we reached the historic
port of Plymouth and the cold of an English December.
The train carrying passengers from the little ship through a frozen
darkening afternoon to night in London, pulled into Waterloo Station.
As Jock came striding down the platform to meet me I could not
suppress a fleeting shock of amusement. Here was a figure of
the journalist straight out of romantic fiction - tall, enveloped
in a trench coat, collar turned up around strong face, now thin
under untidy curls. In my youth I imagined marrying a journalist
- he would travel, and I would go with him and paint! But I never
thought of Jock as a journalist.
Somehow we arrived at the Shack in the small hours of the night.
Much, much later I discovered another world.
The freeze isolated us from people even more than the difficulties
of the divorce. Oleg's shack was a perfect cubby-hole, just visible
among black skeletons of winter trees. It was a primitive box
with its back tucked into the edge of a field and its feet standing
on the sloping hill of a little gully. These 'feet' supporting
a verandah on two sides were fashioned, on some unexplained botanical
whim, out of osier willow logs. Oleg knew what they would do.
They grew. And sprouted many branches. In winter they made
elastic perches for robins, tits, magpies and others who came
furtively to eye the food table Jock had set up. In summer they
were cool umbrellas, noisy with birds. There was a horse who
enjoyed the gully and a pair of goats who took up odiferous residence
under the house.
Now, in winter, it was quiet in that way which fills the air with
sounds of the earth; trees, birds, small animals in dry leaves.
The air was crisp and carried messages a long way. The barbed
wire fence (reminiscent of an Australian paddock) separated the
kitchen window from the Common only thirty feet away. Hardly
a person came along the shadowed track under the huge oaks and
elms of the Common. People seemed to prefer to walk on the cleared
land of the top where it was open and they could be friendly.
The Shack was generous for such a building: one large room and
two bedrooms, a kitchen with tiny stove and sink, a bathroom with
a real bath - even a primitive toilet adjoining. On the pine
walls Jock had hung his two paintings - Lina's portrait and William
Frater's sunny hillside. I brought drawings and paints and many
blankets. We had a table and three chairs tucked into it, a small
rug of gazelle skins and a carpet with so little weight that it
billowed like a pinned down parachute when the wind whistled through
the floor boards.
So began our life together.
Up to this point there had been some snags in our relationship.
I had been involved seriously and briefly with another man.
For me it was over. Finished. For Jock it was an emotional knot.
It took time to prize it undone. There was a deep ambivalence
in his approach to women, as with so many powerful but sensitive
men who try to suppress the feminine elements of their nature.
When he was twenty-three in the New Hebrides and was noting the
behaviour of their favourite native helper, tearful after some
minor incident concerning a missing bird - 'Like a woman.' he
wrote 'Two things I don't quite yet understand - natives and
women. Note the affinity.' It is quite possible that his feeling
of confusion in relation to women (and natives) showing their
emotion in tears was a direct result of his mother's iron control
over such displays. "Don't be a calf" she would say
to him when he cried as a small boy. He said he only ever saw
her cry once - when he surprised her weeping into a coat hanging
behind a door. It was the coat of his eldest brother who had
just died in the accident. Tears were not an acceptable indulgence
for his family, or his generation of Australian men - any generation
of Australian men for that matter. Accepting that tears are a
part of living, and only a weakness when the motivation is weakness,
is difficult for those imprinted with the heroic myth.
Years later, on the Gulf reconnaissance, for no admitted reason
he growled into his diary: 'All women are bitches.' He loved
and feared them for their emotional power. His friend Doreen
Johns noted back in 1938 that he was attracted to them but - 'Flits
from one to the other with great ease. Females a sideline, not
important. Some day will meet one who will be very important.'
There was an inner struggle - suspicion and yet a need for emotional
peace which he thought could be found with them. He was extremely
attractive to them in spite of his own confessions of self-doubt.
In the early days on the papers he worked with Elizabeth Riddell,
a poet and writer of whom he said 'she's the only truly sophisticated
Australian woman I've met' and for whom he had enduring affection
and respect. 'Women were mad for Jock' she said, laughing about
his technique at parties. 'I remember his looks - very good-looking.'
But there was something else - 'if we never saw each other we'd
always be friends. There was a chord struck. You get it with
people, male or female.'
When I met him everything about his life-style over the past nine
years suggested a sophisticated, sexually tolerant man of worldly
experience. But beneath that layer was another: the wish for
a guaranteed virgin. It was an almost 19th Century aspect to
his emotions regarding women, buried deep but absorbed from his
mother whose guilt drove her to be rigidly moral; she was a tamed
rebel in that sense. Knowing nothing about that he nevertheless
admired emancipated, independent women who would push their intellectual
or artistic talents to the limit - but he did not want to live
with the result of that total dedication. It meant a certain
separation. In saying that, I am not implying he squashed any
talent of mine; it was my choice to recognise that the talent
was not big enough to justify the agonies of such dedication,
and he was genuinely glad for any successes I had and made efforts
to give me some time and space. Marriage as partnership - wholeness
- was an ideal he sought. He wrote and talked about 'mating for
life' in nature. There are a few animals who do this. He knew
all of them. Cape Barren geese are among them and he had some
for research in an enclosure round the dam on our mini-farm near
Monash University. He was exceedingly upset when a fox braved
the electric fence and slaughtered the male of a pair who had
produced many enchanting little striped goslings.
But against this was the very male image of the conqueror - he
enjoyed being thought of that way. His sexual psychology was
complex like everything else. Now that he had found the woman
he wanted to mate with he mourned the fact that I could not and
would not be put on any nineteenth century pedestal. I fought
with fervour, anger and frustrated tears against the corrosive
acid of jealousy. Yet he was not a jealous personality in any
broader sense - not professionally as a scientist nor in the small
everyday exchanges of life. He was generous-minded, even to implacable
opponents if he respected them. Intellectually he saw the absurdity
of emoting over my past but his diary entries swung between eulogy,
doubt and self-doubt, even though he knew he was loved - 'And
as wonderful for me as anything else, Jane loves me as nobody
else has ever even approached loving me before.' We both discovered
love to be a double-sided mirror, painfully illuminating. We
were indeed different. I did not have any of the qualities in
which Jock excelled - especially his courage, flair for the larrikin
gesture and witty sense of humour - yet there was a toughness
he knew he could not buck alongside the feminine for which he
had a deep need. In the end it was clear that our flaws and gifts
were complementary and binding. We came to a pact: we never
quizzed each other again. In that shack in the woods, we began
a marriage, although in legal fact it did not begin until three
years later; a test in itself in those days of 'middle-class
morality' - a state Jock made much fun of.
What can one say about a marriage that worked? The very statement
of it seems smug. It is a bore to those more interested in dramas
of abuse, arcing of high voltage rows, falling out of love and
into it, and always 'others'. It would be foolhardy to deny the
possibility of others. Both of us understood the difficulty of
giving up the allure of conquest, and transitory hormonal madness
can visit anyone, even when it is in the head rather than the
bed. Jock was the most exciting - and loving - man I ever met.
We could not and did not take each other for granted.
I struggle to remember high voltage rows - though one remains
clear, probably because it concerned one of our first collaborations
on vital work. I was illustrating Jock's papers on sexual periodicity
and the pressure for him to publish was building up after the
time spent away in the Arctic. Dr Ian Hume, who came over to
England to read for his Fellowship of the Royal College of Physicians
and had been to Jan Mayen as the expedition doctor, was staying
with us while working for his exams.
It all blew up over the testes of a robin. It was two in the
morning in early autumn. The three of us had been toiling in
the circle of light over the big table for hours. Outside it
was black and wind was stroking willow boughs against the windows.
At last, drooping, I pushed my drawing across to Jock for approval.
'Those don't look like balls' shortly, impatient with weariness,
'they're bloody saucers.' I was instantly awake, furious. I
did not especially like the genitalia of robins anyway. Past
triumphs rushed to my head. A scholarship holder from the art
school in Sydney - not without talent for disposing the difficult
juxtaposition of forms in the human body - being challenged on
a mere sphere! (I conveniently forgot one of the first lessons
of draughtsmanship - the convex-concave difficulties of a sphere).
Jock was adamant with noisy inventive criticism. I shouted illogically.
The goats started kicking the support posts in angry protest.
Ian went to bed. Finally, like an empty soda-water syphon, we
spluttered to a stop. In the morning it was obvious they were
saucers, not balls. I started again.
Those drawings were a huge discipline for me. The accurate counting
and rendering of hairs and teeth had never been my forte. Jock
was extremely patient with me, not even losing his head when I
added a fifth leg to a sloth draped in complicated inertia around
a tree - this for a text book of Zoology. However, done for love
in the first place, I soon realised the drawings were both a sharing
and an independence. They were a financial help to both of us.
More importantly, they kept me in touch with complicated scientific
work which would have flowed inevitably away from me otherwise.
For Jock they were a material help. He declared he was the only
zoologist in the world who could not draw.
But back at the beginning in the cold December of 1946 we were
simply beginning to explore all this. There was an immense amount
to learn; about each other primarily, but also about post-war
England, about Oxford crowded as it was with young just out of
school and mature students aged by war; about dehydrated potato
in a packet and the heady luxury of a lamb chop after a week of
rice and cabbage, or a slice of special chocolate cake from Grimble's
in the Cornmarket. Foresightedly Jock had collected an immense
squirrel-like horde of apples in the autumn from a near-by orchard.
They covered every shelf and unlikely cranny in the Shack. I
grumbled at my diary 'Apples, apples, apples - apples with rice,
apples with cabbage, with raisins, with tinned beans. Apple pie?
- not enough butter. WHAT to do with them today?'
There was a farcical aspect to this life too; how to avoid the
visitors who did not know I was there - and were not meant to
know. I kept a pile of books and a jar of cough lozenges in the
bedroom. Fortunately visitors had to mount steps onto the verandah
on the side where there were no windows, so I had plenty of warning
to scuttle for the bedroom as they stomped around the deck. I
often wished for more scintillating eavesdropping than such matters
as the state of cell formation in a bird's gonads - but got through
a lot of reading.
After Christmas in London with an old friend we returned to the
snow-laden landscape of Shotover. Snowdrifts were piling up all
over Britain and the Thames beginning to freeze. It was a very
unusual winter, and for us exhilarating and exciting. Jock bicycled
down the five miles to Oxford each day and back up the steep hills
at night, boasting that he only needed two pullovers and a glove
in the freezing air. I did not have a bicycle but went down to
the city by an always fascinating, sometimes exhausting two mile
walk through deep snow, and a bus. Shopping was a challenge,
but it did not take long. There was no variety to linger over.
Almost everything one could think of was rationed, down to the
bare minimum, except pheasants and venison - a pair of pheasants
lived near us but we did not eat them. But Oxford was forever
as time-consuming as one would allow it to be. Behind all the
frenetic activity of that first post-war year the old colleges
held their secret magic, quads silent under a white cloth of snow.
The two rivers were freezing. The coffee shops buzzed warmly.
And the Oxford eccentrics lived on - or mushroomed into the limelight
from their schools. At the Shack the B.B.C. kept us informed
concerning the crime and punishment of war criminals. There were
anguished analyses of the beginning of the end of the British
Empire as Mountbatten presided over the devastating division of
India and the funeral of the British Raj. There was not much
anguish displayed over this in the hospitable clatter of village
pubs. There we drank Flowers Brown Ale and listened to tales
of woe about fields of deep-frozen vegetables and cheerful grizzling
It was on these forays into villages that we first became addicted
to hunting for antiques. We had no money but we bided our time,
only falling at first for the odd silver spoon or 18th Century
glass rummer. Jock had a strong feeling for hand-crafted things
- perhaps awakened in jungle villages. I came from a house full
of antiques and wished for years to be purely modern, but the
lure of dim, closely packed village shops changed all that. The
hunt, beginning as necessity, evolved into a recreation and a
drug we never kicked. Jock had a particular love for chairs and
collected them in an assortment of places from Oxford to as far
away as America and South Africa. I once found him sitting holding
court in his latest acquisition on the pavement outside the pub
where we were to meet in Oxford - 'Isn't it lovely? I found it
in a back street. It makes you believe in God' - and he offered
me a seat with a flourish.
From the utter simplicity of our hide in the woods we travelled
to Blenheim Palace at Woodstock to search for newts in the iced-over
lake and the pools of the lavishly statued terraces skirting the
18th Century Palace. The Duke had given Jock permission to invade
the privacy of the terraces to search the pools for non-hibernating
newts for his work on sexual periodicity. This was more difficult
than it sounds. As snow and ice paralysed the country (villages
were being fed by food drops from the Royal Air Force) the ponds
developed a ten inch cover of ice and the newts were extremely
reluctant to surface. Carrying some home in a bottle in the bus
seemed like triumphal progress.
The newts surfaced again for discussion when J.B.S. Haldane was
guest research speaker in the Department of Zoology later in the
year. This large, squared off, bear-like man was an amusing speaker:
'absolutely magnificent' said Jock - 'among other things he spoke
of how to make a yellow cat. He has a flat full of cats &
his wife, Spurway (he calls her simply) has the flat full of newts.'
Later he went down to Jock's room to discuss the puzzle of the
Blenheim newts - 'he stretched himself out on a bench & talked
about human genetics in a most delightfully urbane & non-authoritative
way with Spanky [Ian Hume], Thomas and me. This eulogy of course
is stimulated by some of the nasty things I'd heard about him
as much as by my impressions of him.' Haldane was famous, not
only for his physiological and genetic research, but for the extraordinary
experiments he carried out on himself, his unconventional behaviour,
bravery, his communism and an ability to 'back into the limelight.'
January and most of February slipped by. Tom Harrisson, one of
the few people we could allow to visit us, stayed for several
days. I felt he was a little wary of me at first. I had not
met him before. The dark straight hair of the New Hebrides photos
was still there, but tropical living had softened and filled the
hard slimness of his early silhouette. He had a sultry air until
the smile lit him. He was emotional and fluidly verbose, arrogant
and amusedly self-deprecating by turns; energetic and restless.
He and Jock were funny and abrasive together. It was easy to
understand the irritation yet attraction that swung between them.
Tom declared Jock had slipped badly because his double bed was
not occupied by a different woman every night. He spoke of Jock's
once fine flair for analysis, leadership, invective - and confessed
that Jock used to make him nervous when he had to deal with him.
He now thought he no longer had him to fear in any way. 'What
a lot of near surface phenomena Tom misses! And what a magnificent
character study in a specialised, brilliant sort of neuroticism!'
Having heard Tom telephoning a series of prominent people he
noted - 'The whole sum of all his relations is desire for power
- & he goes about it in different ways with different people.'
They were edgy with each other on this visit. Tom's domestic
life was far from serene and he gave a feeling of nerviness.
Jock's cool assessment of his old friend followed on the 'phone
conversations and a boast from Tom that he would buy The Cherwell,
the Oxford undergraduate magazine and set Jock up as editor,
and Geoffrey Dutton, whom Jock had met at Magdalen, as literary
editor. However, as usual they set forth to stir up some devilment
together. Geoffrey, now a distinguished poet and writer, remembers
they all three met and 'had a session with this terrified young
man who was actually the editor of The Cherwell and was
petrified by these three grizzled old war veterans.' They enjoyed
themselves enormously planning the literary and financial rescue
of the magazine, but it did not change into Tom's hands.
Not long after this Geoffrey and his wife Ninette went to Ireland
and we went to stay with them for a few days in a characterful
old house near the east coast. Jock and I walked on cold beaches
searching for sea birds and disported ourselves warmly with the
Duttons. We loved Ireland and the Irish - although Jock became
a touch frustrated when today's promise to collect birds for him
became tomorrow's dream about something entirely different.
Back in London Jock and Tom, with Eddie Shackleton, did a broadcast
for the B.B.C. on their experiences in exotic lands. 'I talked
about New Guinea & "fought" with Tom. Tom cheated
& it very nearly developed into a real fight.' The producer
and Tom became increasingly nervous as Jock strayed from the script,
called Tom his 'scrofulous friend' and appeared to be threatening
worse. When it was over ' the high panjandrum of the Light Program,
one Norman Collins, rang from his home to congratulate. If I
had time I could no doubt make a great deal this way & get
17 guineas, plus expenses.' He was clearly having a wicked shot
at Tom - a continuation of their power game. But he enjoyed broadcasting
and it had come across in his voice from the beginning with the
childrens' programs in Sydney; he was unpredictable, but predictably
His allusion to the fee was an index of the thought we needed
to give to money. I was also doing some broadcasts for the Overseas
Service so we both travelled occasionally to London in winter
and early spring. The money was useful and the journey interesting.
London, most of its historic stone miraculously intact, was a
study in white and slushy greys, the crowds rugged against cold,
austere in overcoats; bomb-holes in the ground, steamy tea houses,
friendly efficiency in the big ugly B.B.C. building - then a return
in the night to snowy silence, the shack in the woods festooned
with icicles. One morning Jock measured an icicle thirty inches
long. And when we decided he could give a party in spite of the
weather and our situation, Geoffrey Dutton remembers arriving
with two rather proper companions to find one of our artist friends
under the verandah licking a long beery icicle from the keg above.
This was our private life. Jock had done all the things he had
promised Norman Haire he would do, because he felt secure - or
as secure as he ever allowed himself to feel about anything.
But research was paramount, which we both knew. In December he
had set off enthusiastically on the scent of discovery: 'I am
really getting my teeth into my work & shall have all the
hack work done on my first D. Phil. paper by the end of this week.'
While in Cambridge to see the Scott Polar institute people about
Jan Mayen, he visited F.H.A. Marshall, the great reproductive
physiologist. Marshall showed interest in his work and told him
he was including references to some of his bower-bird work in
the next edition of his Physiology of Reproduction - the
current bible on the subject: 'One feels that despite the war
& the fat boys, one is not entirely out of circulation.'
No - not out of circulation. A curious political game, in the
best Oxford tradition, was now being played in the School of Rural
Economy. It seemed he might be approached by Blackman, the Sibthorpian
Professor, and asked if he were interested in accepting a Departmental
Demonstratorship in Zoology and Physiology. He was excited by
it, but realised it might not come off - one man in the Department
was worried about his marital status. It was in the melting pot.
Meanwhile he was tutoring six of their people and lecturing once
a week to another group of about a dozen. One of the senior members
of staff took a surprisingly close interest in these lectures
- or rather in the manner in which they were conducted. At the
end of one session in which he had been discussing the intricacies
of the renal system Jock moved towards the door as he made a final
remark: 'Above all Gentlemen - remember - Piss is important.'
Opening the door, he almost beheaded the unlucky listener. Nobody
knows if the fellow admitted hearing such an undignified exhortation,
but the students no doubt remembered the lecture.
Two months later, in April, attitudes to divorce intruded again.
Having sought references for this appointment from his Sydney
teachers, Frank Cotton, Professor of Physiology and W. J. Dakin,
Professor of Zoology, Jock was amazed to be told by a colleague,
Scott Russell from the Agricultural Department, that Cotton wrote
him the sort of testimonial that he (Scott Russell) would write
for himself, 'or one that J.C. might get' - but Dakin, 'while
stressing (or mentioning?) my supposed virtues, suggested that
he didn't think I was the type to settle permanently among the
dreaming spires (? he's right?) & - here's the touch of
the bastard again - he'd been "shocked" at my divorce.'
It was not a happy augury. The position was to be advertised,
so there was to be more delay. 'It's a relief' Jock said 'that
one knows exactly where one stands, & anyway, I always feel
good in the face of adversity.' That was true. He swore about
it briefly, but immediately applied for two grants - an 1851 Senior
Studentship and a Beit Medical Research Fellowship. Dr Owen Thomas,
a New Zealand cytologist working in the Zoology Department, thought
him a certainty for the latter: 'I hope so; but people often
think I'm better than I am.'
But on May 15th, in spite of Dakin's remarks, he was offered the
Demonstratorship in the Department of Agriculture. He was to
be Departmental Demonstrator for a year, converting to University
Demonstrator and Lecturer, initially to be paid between 500 and
600 pounds. He would have complete freedom of research and Professor
Hardy gave permission for him to continue his work in the Department
of Zoology; and he had beaten the quite unfair references to
his divorce and his ability to settle permanently in Oxford, neither
of which had anything to do with his zoological knowledge or his
expertise as a teacher. He felt satisfied professionally and
He then began thinking about Jan Mayen and that he wanted to return
through Germany in order to talk with Professor Stieve, a specialist
in work on the ovary. However, getting into Germany was a difficult
enterprise just post war. He decided to go and see Professor
Howard Florey who had some useful contacts - 'a good tough quiet
digger type.' Florey was helpful and they had a talk about the
Arctic, some mutual friends, the mammalian ovary and the phenomenon
of non-breeding in the Arctic: ' "They just go there &
sit & think?" asked Florey quietly. "Yes"
I said. "And shit" said Florey. "Gallons and
gallons" I said. "You'll go back to Australia then?"
said Florey. "I'll go back if I get offered a good enough
job - if not I'll stay here - or go to Timbuktu." He nodded
with complete understanding, or so I thought.'
Jock's attitude to Australia was cool - but ambivalence persisted.
He gave a lecture to the Oxford University Exploration Club on
New Guinea, Peace and War. The older New Guinea slides
were fascinating to a post-war generation but he also showed some
"Jockforce" slides of wan A.I.F. infanteers on improvised
stretchers crossing muddy rivers, etc., and made some discreet
cracks about 'the local fallacy of "Britain stood alone".'
The audience took it and appeared to like it and the organiser
said it was the most remarkable lecture in the history of the
Club. Jock hoped he meant it sincerely.
He worked on through a watery Spring; blackbirds sang in the
feeble sunshine of Shotover Cleve and rooks built in the Magdalen
elms. But the sun brought trouble: the huge drifts of snow turned
to floods. Swans swam in the streets of Oxford. Then came raging
gales uprooting sodden trees and houses and killing several people.
The trees of Shotover remained intact, but the telephone went
dead. By May the Cleve was full of daffodils, primroses and leafy
twigs. The two pheasants disappeared - we hoped, having finished
their noisy courtship, to begin the business of housekeeping,
and not vanished into a cooking pot. And now there were nightingales
- nondescript little brown birds filling the night air with ecstatic
Summer arrived with an explosion of colour - not only in the lush
flora. Traditional activities marking the end of the academic
year bloomed with pageantry. Jock took time from work to shout
encouragement for his college at the Bumping races. 'I'll call
my son after you if you win' he yelled at the eight toiling oarsmen
as they flashed past the decorated barge, oblivious to such threats.
He also agreed to enter an unusual and illegal bicycle race known
as the "Pint-toPint" (over ten pubs and ten pints and
about ten miles) between teams from Merton and Worcester Colleges.
It was a fearful course along bumpy towpath, bridges, railway
subways, level crossing and traffic. Picture a one-armed warrior
streaming along it at full pelt, drunkenly exuberant. It was
terrifying to watch. He came in fourth, after being knocked off
his bicycle by a swinging gate on the towpath - 'got on again,
whimpering & cursing, for the honour of Merton & Australia.'
June was busy in a more sober way. There was a great deal to
do before leaving for the Arctic, and suddenly a crisis appeared
concerning funds for the Jan Mayen research. He had applied for
a Toombs Grant in order to work on migration and non-breeding
in Arctic birds. Although the phenomenon of non-breeding was
well known, no systematic investigation of the problem had been
undertaken apart from field observations. Jock wanted to make
extensive collections of relevant species for study in the laboratory,
correlating the work with meteorological data supplied by the
Norwegian weather station. The application went to the Royal
Society backed fully by Professor Hardy and John Baker. As well
as being submitted to F.H.A. Marshall, who approved absolutely,
it was sent for comment to two of the senior ornithologists in
the Zoology Department at Oxford. These two gentlemen were 'not
unhelpful, but hostile', claiming that Jock would be too late
getting there, the birds would not be there in any quantity, and
furthermore he had only gone to one session of the recent Ornithological
Congress - the one at which he'd read a paper.
Professor Hardy convened a meeting with them on June 9th. Jock
went along armed to the teeth with evidence in refutation of their
claims and determined at all costs to remain polite and quell
all the sarcastic cracks that had been welling up in him for 48
hours. Baker also went along armed with breeding season data
from literature over years. That afternoon the Professor went
off to the grants meeting in London, wreathed in smiles. Jock
was hopeful. 'When I saw him after the meeting he was wetting
himself with pleasure. "I was very despondent on Saturday"
he said "I'm so glad you were able to prove them wrong.
Jolly good show. You put up a jolly good show!" (Aren't
there some fine people in the world - & some shits! - I wonder
where I stand?!)'.
He appeared not to give a damn what people thought of him but
was really quite sensitive to the opinion of those he respected
and liked, though entirely unprepared to compromise in order to
gain favourable comment. A week later he received a grant of
50 pounds from the Royal Society - 'a personal triumph over not
inconsiderable forces of jealousy & inferiority of the little
men. And a triumph for Hardy & J.R.B. I am well pleased
- & the money will be handy!' He was full of enthusiasm now.
Life was good. Dining at Brasenose College he met Professor
Spalding who was keen on an expedition to stone-age Dutch New
Guinea as soon as possible. 'We talked of the unending intellectual
excitement of life - "a notable pleasure. I hardly ever
met a person I liked more at first meeting.'
The New Guinea expedition again - his feelings were ambivalent.
He began to think about the interruption to his research caused
by organisational work for the Arctic expedition. Perhaps it didn't
matter much, he thought, since he now had a good job at Oxford,
'but if I want the Sydney Chair (& I do?) it does.' He calculated
that if Dakin retired at 65 a successor would be needed by March,
1949, and therefore by the end of the following year he would
need to have his Doctorate. The question mark on the Sydney Chair
pointed to a dilemma. At this stage he was not really interested
in returning to Australia, but an emotional attachment lurked
- perhaps more to an ambition of his youth than to real desire.
This particularly concerned Sydney University. Whatever the
outcome, it spurred his work.