Obituary: Professor C. Northcote Parkinson

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The Independent Online
THE APPEALING obituary of Cyril Northcote Parkinson (by Helena Rogers, 12 March) recalls happy days in post-war Liverpool where he held an assistant lectureship in the history department (at pounds 400 a year before tax). A number of us, including Kenneth Allott, Glyn Faithfull and the jovial lawyer Seaborne Davies, had the pleasure of sharing his company at Derby Hall, the university residence for men where he was a tutor, writes Professor W. R. Mead.

His laws were retailed to us at breakfast time, made the more enjoyable by the throaty chuckles with which he anticipated their conclusions. On Sunday mornings we were treated to longer anecdotes about the wartime experiences which gave rise to his laws. He had a marvellously acerbic - often mordant - wit to which all who suffered his displeasure were subjected. He was not very happy with the facilities offered to him by the university. He purchased a collection of pews from a war-damaged chapel to provide seating in a lecture room which it is more than possible he rented privately for his classes. During the winter of 1947 we travelled together to Preston to our extramural classes. Curiously, he languished: he intimated that he would go anywhere for pounds 1,000 a year - hence his departure for the University of Malaya. It is possible that he was aggrieved that he was not appointed to the chair in imperial and naval history from which Admiral Sir Herbert Richmond retired at Cambridge.

I am always grateful to him for bequeathing me his own copies of a series of volumes of the Naval Records Society, especially those dealing with the Baltic Campaigns of 1854-55. 'And don't forget to read Hornblower,' he said when we parted company in 1949 - one result of which was an entertaining correspondence with CS Forester.

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