Two activities have brought me pleasure throughout my life. The first is fell walking, as it is called in Lancashire. The second is the systematic visiting of churches. The first I have long renounced. No more scrambles across Kinder Scout pursued by gamekeepers. No more struggles through the mist on Coniston Old Man. Worst of all, no more doing the round of Fairfield Horse Shoe. I doubt whether I could even get to the top of Latter-barrow. One day I must try.
[*] The Cathedrals of England by Nikolaus Pevsner and Priscilla Metcalf. Viking, 2 vols, £25 each, 25 April, 0 670 80124 0 and 0 670 80125 9.
Vol. 7 No. 17 · 3 October 1985
SIR: I am reminded by A.J.P. Taylor’s Diary (LRB, 5 September) of the time during the war (around 1942-43) when my job brought me into contact with Hungarian émigré organisations. Among the people I met were Count and Countess Karolyi, who invited me to dinner in a Soho restaurant to meet Arthur Koestler. Throughout the meal Koestler gave me the impression of a man obsessed by an idée fixe: he continually urged Karolyi, as leader of the socialist and democratic Hungarian emigration in Britain, to do all that he could to distance himself from the Soviet Union, whose popularity at the time was high with the British press and public. I thought Karolyi was fairly resistant to Koestler’s persuasion, but that may have been due to my own bias. Being myself at the time an enthusiastic Communist (in the 18th-century sense of the word ‘enthusiasm’), I saw in Koestler a sinister arch-reactionary and conceived a violent dislike for him. It is ironic to reflect that, si ’était à refaire, I should probably find myself arguing Koestler’s point even more vehemently.