Oral history of British science
King-Hele, Desmond (Part 2 of 21). An Oral History of British Science.
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King-Hele, Desmond, 1927- (speaker, male)
Merchant, Paul (speaker, male)
Part 2: Comments on father: satisfaction in collecting customs duties, feelings about rejection from service in WW1, ability in adding columns of numbers, belief that DKH would seek civil service. Story of scoring highly in administrative civil service examination, but being rejected due to expressed wish for scientific civil service. Mentions post war enthusiasm for science and civil service. Comments on family’s view of war; father’s membership of Home Guard. [05:36] Comments on parents’ marriage; time spent with mother before primary school; morality of home; parents view of commercial travellers; parents’ political affiliation. [10:22] Story of seeing, aged 3, children taken by ambulance. Comments on family homes in Seaford. Description of house on Hartfield Road, Seaford, occupied from 1938. Story of singing poorly at SM; discovery of hearing impairment aged 63. [17:36] Comments on mother’s interest in music/singing; father’s schooling; parents’ religious beliefs. [20:50] Description of significant natural landscapes encountered as a child: cliffs at Seaford, scenery of Devonshire holidays, including redness of cliffs near Teignmouth. Comments on interest in Lake District in the 1950s; lifelong interest in the sea; recent visits to beach at Hayling Island; childhood appreciation of Epsom Downs; Cadet Corps field days to Headley Down from EC. Detailed comments on appreciation of landscape of Downs in relation to literature of the picturesque in contrast to ‘stinking ditches’ of Cambridge. [26:25] Comments on childishness of Cadet Corps exercises enjoyed by peers. Positive comments on natural history teaching at SH. Brief description of interior of SM; pre school tutoring; related reading, appreciation of habitat; lack of awareness of popular natural history. [32:04] Comments on modern domestic items: wireless, vacuum cleaner. Description of interior and grounds of EC. Comments on feelings about attendance at EC chapel; friendships at EC limited by wartime restrictions. [38:08] Description of chemistry teaching at EC. Detailed description of chemistry laboratory; layout of practical demonstrations; following instructions in practical classes. Description of physics teaching at EC, relying on demonstrations including floating objects, air pressure, gas laws. [42:11] Comments on teaching of English Literature [EL] at EC; performance in English; texts and poems studied; Sixth Form teaching of EL; first poem taught: Shelley’s ‘Ozymandias’; relative lack of interest in poetry then; teaching of mathematics at EC. Detailed comments on interest in calculus, as enumeration of real world phenomena such as ball in flight, area traced by a curve.
Life story interview with physicist Dr Desmond King-Hele