24 MARCH 1967, Page 28

Sir: Dear Uncle Simon You were always a bright and

even a brilliant rogue.

Charming, engaging, you enjoyed your elfin stance, enfant terrible: a veritable Rumpelteazer of the Lower Sixth in- tellectuals, you romped your way through sessions of Sym- posium, Lysistrata.

You were cosseted, flattered, finally uncorrupted. You even had that rarest grace, humility.

Now who would have thought to see you pontifi- cating away, a latter-day Lord Chesterfield, amoralising, laying down rules (driving on the right, of course)? From lofty Olympian plinth you look down on us lesser Lilliputian mortals with our futile commitments to causes or parties or other people. Perhaps yours the greater integrity?

'Be kind and considerate'—but never committed. Let not the sun . . . etc.

Still charming, this, engaging. Independent, too (don't be pushed around).

The good Lord C would clearly have approved of this (if not of Lyndon J).

No 'horrid thing' like an enthusiasm in sight. No falling in love.

But not much here to live—or die—for: what you might call conviction?

Yes, 1 know—'For everyday use give me some- body whimsical with not too much purpose in life' . .

The best often 'lack all conviction,' while the worst may well be simply 'full of passionate intensity.'

We may not want crusades (though there's more guts there than in your quiet and decent superstitions)—or cant or codes (even yours).

But we do need sensitivity, even—perhaps above all—in the lay-loft: surely you want your son to treat people as people, not things, machines to be manipulated? For God's sake, Simon, hold your tongue,

and let him love.