Special Collections Centre



Professor Emeritus R.V.Jones (1911-1997) C.H., C.B., CBE, D.Phil., D.Sc., LL.D., F.R.S., F.R.S.E.

Excerpt from interview recorded on 17 March 1987 with John Hargreaves. Here Professor Jones describes his first meeting with Col. Harry Butchart, University Secretary, during his interview for the Chair of Natural Philosophy in 1946.

Image: Professor Emeritus R.V.Jones


… Now when the day came for the interviews there was one interview by a section of the Court in the morning, those on the science and medical science and in the afternoon there was a full Court. At that time, I had just come off the train, I was perhaps feeling rather tired and I wasn't been speaking very loudly, not that I often do but as a result one the members obviously had some difficulty in hearing and he, I think it was David Campbell, Dean of Medicine and he expressed some misgiving that I might not be able to, with my quiet voice, control a first year class. My old intelligence system told me this over lunchtime, so I was ready for the meeting in the afternoon, but Harry Butchart didn't know that I already was aware of the danger and nevertheless he felt he ought to try and warn me. The interview was in the old Court Room in Marischal and three of the candidates, that was two other professors and myself there, and I think I went in last. Harry Butchart having shepherded one candidate out of course then called from the door for the next one to come in so when it came to my turn, the previous candidate came out, Butchart appeared at the door and called me in and somehow between the door of the court room and the court table which can't be much more than about 5 yards, Butchart tried to warn me somehow and what he did, he had a pretty hoarse voice in the first place, Harry Butchart trying to whisper was really quite something, he put his hand up to his mouth to shade it as far as he could from the Court and said in what was a Butchart's whisper 'some of the old boys on the Court are very deaf so would you mind speaking up'. So I thought well I've got another friend here and as a result I deafened them and I could see the faces of one or two people were puzzled as to how this so quietly spoken young man in the morning could be like this in the afternoon. Anyway that was the end of the interview and back I went with Butchart, and again in the 5 yards between the table and the door he then put his hand up to his mouth and whispered as best he could 'I think that was alright' and that was me in. He was a terrific character…


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