Philip French, 6 June 1996
The smugness, torpor and repression of British life that my generation of undergraduates hated were epitomised in Julian Slade’s long-running musical Salad Days, the story of a pair of inane Cambridge graduate newly-weds living in London with a magic piano. It opened in the summer of 1954, a few months before I went up to Oxford, and featured a jolly song supposedly counselling against nostalgia called ‘We Said We’d Never Look Back’, any three bars of which bring back memories of what I most disliked about those times. Now it is back in the West End, and its revival coincides with the publication of Sebastian Faulks’s percetive study of three men who died young, the painter Christopher Wood (1901-30), the war hero, Richard Hillary (1919-43), and Jeremy Wolfenden (1934-65) who was (or is?) the most spectacular failure of my Oxford generation.