Sir Tim Rice, (Second’s 1958-1962) has grown accustomed to sell-outs and just as well as Great School was packed to hear him speak at this year’s Evelyn Waugh Lecture. Tim reflected on a previous performance of his in the same room in 1962 in his final term, it was the Aardvarks (a Lancing pop group, so named in order to guarantee top billing on any alphabetically arranged poster and Tim was one of the vocalists) farewell appearance. The review in the magazine by a contemporary, none other than David Hare was grudging about the encores but conceded it was “nevertheless a talented performance”. Tim admitted that it had not occurred to him at the time to write any lyrics for the band but good stories had always interested him (he first came across Eva Perón in his stamp collection as a young boy) and spells in Lancing’s Chapel nurtured the material for Joseph and the Amazing Technicolor Dreamcoat and Jesus Christ Superstar. He closed with these words, “I think the ethos, the liberal spirit of the school, the fact that even insensitive souls such as myself dimly realised that there was more to education than exams and discipline, was a good basis for life. Of course it was privileged, of course it was a bubble of security, but when I return now, it’s impossible to feel that my time here was wasted. I am still lying on a bank in the sun in 1961, half-watching the cricket XI, half-listening to Del Shannon’s ‘Runaway’.”
It was a real pleasure to have Alexander Waugh in the audience as well, particularly as it coincided with his publication of The Complete Works of Evelyn Waugh, Volume 30, Personal Writings 1903-1921 Precocious Waughs. Evelyn was at Lancing from 1917-1921 and his most prolific year of diary writing occurred in 1920. His housemaster, John F Roxburgh wrote to him in October 1921 congratulating him on the quality of the school magazine (Waugh was editor) and observed rather astutely, “If you use what the gods have given you, you will do as much as any single person I can think of to shape the course of your own generation”.
The 2019 Evelyn Waugh Lecture will revert to its usual timing at the beginning of the summer term, on Thursday 25 April. We are honoured to have the author, William Boyd as our guest speaker and it will be his first visit to Lancing. Ardent fans will recall that Evelyn Waugh had a role in William Boyd’s novel Any Human Heart (2002) and that he has also adapted Scoop for television (1988) and the Sword of Honour trilogy (2001). It promises to be another sell-out evening!
Click here for more pictures of the evening.