On February 6th, 1972, I wrote the following note in my diary:
‘I am standing at a bookstall near Baker Street tube station. The loneliness of London overwhelms me. Francis Huxley is standing beside me, looking haggard and tired. He is grey, ill. I tell him about the peacefulness of Bruges ( where I have been living recently); and the power and beauty of Oslo (seen by me on a recent visit). He both agree that we must never despise this life’.
Such a strange and random diary entry needs further explanation! I had, in fact, just happened to bump into Francis at the station by chance that evening, although we had met formally a year before, when my father had introduced us. The brief exchange had some relevance, as we had discussed the delights of travel at our first meeting.
Francis, the son of Julian Huxley and nephew of Aldous, died on 29th October 2016, aged 93 in California. In his obituary in the Guardian newspaper he was described as ‘an anthropologist and author who was ‘fascinated by shamans, myths and religious rites’.
Most notably, he set us Survival International with Robin Hanbury-Tenison, an NGO, devoted to protecting the rights of indigenous peoples world-wide.