13:39, November 20 55 0 theguardian.com

2017-11-20 13:39:04
Letters: Jeremy Hutchinson’s brilliance, energy and sense of fun

Richard Shone writes: Jeremy Hutchinson was the last surviving person to have known Virginia Woolf, of whom he spoke with vividness; he brilliantly imitated her conversational flights, with their humour and ribaldry, and spoke of her “distressed beauty”. His mother, Mary, was not a model for Woolf’s Mrs Dalloway (she was partly based on the writer’s old friend Kitty Maxse) but she is recognisable as, in Hermione Lee’s phrase, the “febrile socialite” Jinny in The Waves. Mary had a long affair with Clive Bell, and was later a friend of TS Eliot, Aldous Huxley and Samuel Beckett.

When I was writing about Walter Sickert’s music hall paintings, Jeremy was able to recollect the songs that the artist would have heard. He adored his boyhood memories of the Holborn Empire, especially Lily Morris (relishing, word perfect, her Don’t Have Any More, Mrs Moore) and the blue innuendos of Max Miller (The Fan Dancer Minus Her Fan). A theatrical gift was an essential ingredient of Jeremy’s personality, both professionally and personally. He was unfailingly amusing, informed, un-solemn; he was tolerant of people’s failings as well as of their successes; he concurred with his friend Leonard Woolf’s remark that just because one believed in something it didn’t mean that it was true (“very useful in a courtroom”). His unwavering rationality never let him lose sight of day-to-day reality.

Michael Randle writes: In 1962, Jeremy Hutchinson, QC, as he then was, defended five of the six members of the Committee of 100 , including myself (the sixth defendant, Pat Pottle, defended himself) charged under the Official Secrets Act for our part in organising an attempted occupation of the RAF/USAF base at Wethersfield in Essex. US planes at the base carrying nuclear weapons were kept continuously in the air ready to strike in the event of an east-west conflict. While all six of us were convicted, Jeremy and Pat between them did a splendid job in exposing the political and moral issues at the heart of the case despite the efforts of the judge and prosecution to prevent them being raised.

Alan Moses writes: Those who served with Jeremy Hutchinson when he was deputy chairman of the Arts Council, chairman of the Tate, Royal Academy professor of law or in the Lords, would not have regarded the 32 years after he left the bar as a form of retirement. Nor would the lord chancellors, the judiciary and leaders of the bar whom he castigated for overflowing prisons, for the destruction of legal aid, and for the threatened demise of the criminal bar, have described his life as quiet.

Among the Osbert Lancaster cartoons recalling his triumphs, the photographs of the cricketer Ranjitsinhji batting for Sussex, and of HMS Kelly, in which he served under Mountbatten, he continued, in his concern for the issues of the day, well past his 100th year, to entertain his friends, such as the author Juliet Nicolson, who based her novel Abdication on a younger Jeremy. Last summer he sat in the garden and pronounced Lullington the second most beautiful place in the world after Venice. The laughter and fun in his company echoes still, down the Great Meadow where he lived so long.