Sir George Trevelyan: memories and observations

In command

Caroline McCausland

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Many wonderful things have been written about Sir George, his encouragement, enthusiasm, humour, love of adventure, poetry – one can go on and on. He lit people up in a most extraordinary way, his spirit reaching out to audiences and individuals.

But one memory stands out in my mind. It was at Glastonbury on that occasion known as 'The Harmonic Convergence'. We were all gathered in the Town Hall where George was due to speak, followed by various musicians and other speakers. It was Krishna's birthday and a group had asked for half an hour first to honour Krishna. The hall began to fill up with ticket holders for Sir George and friends, but the group went on and on. Song followed song, bells ringing and cymbals clashing. I was sitting next to George at the side of the stage, and every now and again I glanced at him to see his reaction, but he was fast asleep!

After an hour the audience were beginning to get restive, George was snoring gently, and I caught the eye of Rhoda Cowen who mouthed at me “Do something!” So I glanced to my right and passed this message down the line to David Lorimer; but before it reached him a young man got up onto the stage and tried to take the microphone from the chief member of the group, who had no intention of parting with it. Luckily before fisticuffs broke out, David Lorimer climbed to his feet and announced “Sir George Trevelyan!”

Sir George, oblivious to all this, was awoken and gently steered onto the stage. There was a hush as everyone waited to see what would happen next. He stood for several minutes in front of the microphone, in that typical pregnant pause attitude of his, his hands rubbing together, and a few “Well nows”, but mostly looking out at his audience, turning occasionally to the Krishna devotee on his right who was still holding his ground.

When he finally spoke, he managed to diffuse the situation in one sentence and to both dismiss and at the same time thank the group, and with such charm that they could not but go gracefully. Everyone heaved a sigh of relief and the morning proceeded as planned.

I owe him so much, as a teacher, collaborator and encourager of what I do, but most of all for being who he was, and for sharing all he was with all of us so generously.

Caroline McCausland

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