universities because they are one of the more expensive departments to run because of laboratory space and equipment and unless you can produce a great many publications they are not considered to earn their keep. It seems dreadfully sad. In the south-west the only other university which has a chemistry dept will be Bristol. Very sad. I think Max would turn in his grave if he knew.
My life since I’ve been alone? – well I have a little garden. Fortunately where I live it is called a retirement complex – it’s very small, seventeen homes in all, nearly all in houses, some separate, some semi-detached, as mine is, and we all a little bit of our own garden, and there is also a caretaker who cuts the lawns and does heavy things. And because I am so near London I go up very often for theatres and exhibitions – art exhibitions which I really enjoy a lot. There are so many visiting exhibitions in London often coming to big galleries, and little ones, so that’s good fun. On the whole really I suppose my time is taken up with people, which is lovely. You have your own space but you can have as much of people as you wish, which is a great blessing. And you can choose when you do become gregarious and when you don’t. But somehow people seem to crowd in a bit, and I think Ooh I must be a bit more selective! But I like seeing people. And there are things in the village I get involved with. There’s also a very nice church there which quite often, especially in winter, every two months or so, has a concert, in the church, which is given mostly by people who have come from away, not just locals. Some of them very high standard.
When Thomas and Jane come they can stay with me because the little house, although it’s not big, it does have a guest suite and space. And my niece is in the next village – it’s very close. I can walk there in twenty-five minutes. She has two children, a girl seventeen, and a boy eleven. Chloe and Daniel. So when the family come we are all together and that’s lovely for all of us.
– Do you think you have remained a Kiwi?
– Well, I don’t think I am English, really – so I’m a bit mixed up. I think many people think I’m English, but some of them realize I am not. And some of them say You’ve still got an accent! So I think Oh deah! Max used to say You’ve got an accent. I haven’t got one any more [in his Kiwi accent]. English accent – Kiwi accent – it doesn’t actually bother me much one way or the other.
– But coming home is like coming home?
– Oh, yes. It’s all very… it changes, a lot as time goes by, but it’s all so familiar. It’s lovely. There’s much I love about the look of the country and the people. But I just think I’ve been away too long to want to be here permanently. It’s always lovely to come back and I just wish it was a bit nearer and one could do it more often, perhaps for shorter periods, but more often. Max came back gladly as a visitor, but there was no question of coming back to work. There wasn’t his speciality here and there wasn’t the stimulus and there weren’t the contacts. There were European contacts too – not just in England, so it wouldn’t have done for him. But when we ﬁrst went to England, we went by sea, of course, and we came back by sea, and when we went back again we went by sea – and there was never time to come back by sea for a long time, and ﬂying wasn’t really on for ordinary people like us, and it was thirteen years before we came back for the ﬁrst time. That was a long long stretch, but there was nothing we could do about it. After that we tried to come more often, but again it was difficult for Max to get the time away. Even in long vacations there is work to be done and meetings to take…
Yes, sea travel was wonderful. But it was also rather funny because – was it about three weeks? – more? We went both ways, but the ﬁrst time we came Panama and went back Suez. Maybe four weeks, and it was a bit strange because when we did it there were not a lot of people in the ship, perhaps, the first time, only about forty – not a passenger liner, more a freighter, so the relationships with people became rather strange because there was no escaping, and some people got pretty stewed up about, well, anything. And although that didn’t affect either of us, it was a bit funny, and one wouldn’t like to do it now on a freighter which takes months, and there might be only nine or twelve. There’s always one that’s a bit of a pain! I remember – I think it was when we came back to New Zealand – Max was working on a thesis for something or other so he spent a lot of time in his cabin and didn’t socialise much. I don’t think he would have been inclined to anyway – so I was around and about on my own a great deal, and somebody, halfway through the voyage said something that indicated he had no idea there was a husband around! So I quickly disillusioned him. But of course it was lovely doing it the leisurely way, but just a bit too long… But we did look into a passenger-cargo type of voyage after Max retired, but they were going to take a very long time – about three months, and even that was not established because they were going to wherever they had to go, and again the number