He looked a bit younger in those days...

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A Humphrey Lyttelton anecdote

This quote comes from Last Chorus: an Autobiographical Medley (JR Books Limited), first published in 2008, page 420. The book includes Humphrey's diaries 1974 to 1980.

"Saturday 24 May [1980]
Picked up at home by Chris Durdin of the R.S.P.B. who looks fifteen but must be older. He drove me to Chelmsford, getting lost no more than three times. The fete was in a vast field, but a healthy number of people turned up. I opened it by playing a handful of 'bird' songs on the trumpet, was followed by the town band, Scottish dancers, a kite-flying demonstration and P.T. by girls from a police-training school whose formidable thighs turned pork-pink in the prevailing cold. I bought a couple of prints by Tunnicliffe for £2.50 each (framed), some porcelain pots by local craftswomen (or craftspersons) and some teacloths. Duty done, left for home."

Chris writes: "I don't recall the navigational challenges from Humphrey's home in Barnet to the field in Chelmsford, but don't deny them, though I am sure we arrived in time. As for the youthful look, then aged 24, that's true enough. I don't remember much of the conversation, just that Humphrey was an amiable travelling companion, and we certainly chatted about his interest in birds. I suspect my lack of knowledge of jazz was a disappointment to him.

"He was a popular celebrity at the Fair. Several of those who came told Humphrey how much they enjoyed his regular jazz radio programme, and he was quite touched by that.

"Curiously, the same event is mentioned in Rob Hume's book Life with Birds though with more reference to the P.T. girls and their thighs, as I recall, which I evidently mentioned back in the RSPB office that I then shared with Rob."

Lyttleton 2


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