How would you do?

August 25, 1995

Another cherished piece of academic legend bites the dust. Almost as resilient as the old Oxford joke about late Victorian redbrick Keble College "C'est magnifique, mais ce n'est pas la gare" is the legend that candidates for All Souls fellowships were invited to dinner and subjected to desserts packed with cherry stones in order to examine the aplomb with which they handled the potential embarrassment.

But, former acting warden Peter Fraser confided last week, the fabled hurdle never existed. A serious disappointment for those who cherished the image of the young John Redwood confronted with an ordeal on the scale of his attempts later in life to master the Welsh national anthem. Perhaps a hypothetical "how would you?" test might be instituted to allow life to imitate legend. Mr Fraser, a fellow since 1954, would certainly have no problem passing - answering in response to the question: "I suppose I'd give it to the scout to throw away."

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