Captain Moonlight's Notebook: Personal chemistry

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The Independent Online
AMONG the more sensitive decisions the 45 fellows of University College Oxford will have to decide before the summer influx of US tourists is whether to post a sign outside a certain American's former room saying: 'Bill Clinton slept here'. Or perhaps it might read in brackets: 'with two women', or even 'and smoked but did not inhale'.

When I telephoned the college's Master, John Albery, to find what celebrations the new president's alma mater planned for his inauguration on Wednesday I was told the dons had already celebrated enough. They had a champagne breakfast the day after the election and flew the Stars and Stripes from the college tower. They made the president-elect a fellow and sent a telegram inviting him over. He didn't reply.

I was assured the fellows were not disgruntled that the only invitation to the celebrations in Washington had gone to a retired head porter, Douglas Millin, 77, who declined because he said he was too old for the journey. I asked Dr Albery what Bill and Doug had in common.

'Mr Millin and Bill Clinton were very friendly. They used to have a bit of a chinwag in the porters' lodge, usually when he came back from playing rugger. Bill Clinton was in the college's second XV and Douglas often used to go and support the team. It wasn't just rugby they had in common, though. I think it was personal chemistry.'