Oxford Dictionary of
          National Biography

Considered by some the golden boy of post-war Whitehall . . .

I know how many drafts that phrase went through.

The victim of his talents, then the cruel

remark about how from his earliest days at school

he could knock off his prep

with a touch of brilliance in the closing minutes.

But a Perm Sec’s prep was too much for his health –

exacting, unremitting, detailed, dull,

while his strengths were to spot the compromise

among competing views, though for its own sake,

and a one read’s grasp – if occasionally too speedy –

of a tedious memorandum’s salient points.


Clubs, children, recreations, dates –

great personal charm, lively imagination . . .

a natural warmth and openness, quick wits . . .

but never quite fulfilled his early promise . . .


nor feared as he would now the praise of friends.

Published in Snakeskin 273, June 2020