He would greet you with his elegant white cat Syrie in his arms, conduct you to a powder-blue sofa, ply you with huge jugs of neat, icy Lesbian ouzo and talk. Sometimes it was a tirade against the changes brought about by the Second Vatican Council - he was one of a famous wave of converts shepherded towards Rome by Mgr Ronald Knox; sometimes it was speculation as to the real meaning of Wuthering Heights. More often it was pure Thirties gossip, distilled from teas with the Pym sisters, or days spent sharing lodgings with Olivia Manning.
The last time I saw him he urged me to visit the Museum of Cycladic Art and to study the ancient marble female figures. With their almost featureless sloping disc faces and tightly folded arms, they were, he said, 'exactly like dear Olivia'.Reuse content