14 June 2010

Tale told by an idiot (Pt. 2)

This is a continuation of an earlier post about my attempts to set up a research organisation in Oxford.

When I withdrew from the plan for a research institute in which I was to be a secretary with no possible motivation for being so (I was to be offered neither a salary out of which I could have saved money towards my institutional environment of the future, nor any suggestion that what I did would in any way enhance my claims to re-enter an academic career in a university) I did not expect this to cause offence. Surely I had every right not to wish to participate in a project so different from that which I had originally proposed and for which Salter and Sir George had been prepared to seek support.

However, it did lead to offence being taken by Rosalind Heywood, which she broadcast in her inimitable fashion. I can only suppose that she managed to make it sound as though I had turned down an absolutely wonderful proposal which was just what a young and statusless person should have wanted.

In fact, she must have made the proposal expressly so that I would turn it down and it could be regarded as a cause of offence. If she had really hoped I might accept it, she would have incorporated something which might attract me, such as a suggestion (however fictional) that one of the retired professors would be likely to support me in getting a Fellowship at his college, but she did not.

It would seem that my initial proposals for a research institute in Oxford were considered too threatening, in that the Oxford location would make it likely to attract some publicity and hence, perhaps, some financial support which would make me able to do something and make my life less intolerable.

Reacting to this risk, Rosalind superimposed her entirely different proposals on my original ones. When I, foreseeably, would have nothing to do with them, the resulting outrage was sufficient to ensure that all previous plans to seek funding for my plan were aborted. Rosalind was a formidable strategist.

So I was left with my original constitution but no money. The next few years were very bad but I had no alternative but to go ahead, although it now appeared that my hopes of financial support or of re-access to a university career had been definitively destroyed. Everyone joined in the plan to drive me out of Oxford by squeezing me to death.

As an unforeseeable but partial and temporary break, Cecil King came out of the blue and provided a modicum of funding. This, I suppose, re-ignited the original fear that an Oxford location might attract support. Cecil King was quickly turned against us, and the plan for Professor Hardy’s research centre came into being – in Oxford, as similar as possible to my organisation, but with a statusful person at its head, so designed to block any possibility of funding that might otherwise have come to me.