Home > Uncategorized > ‘Amateur’, my father’s memoir

‘Amateur’, my father’s memoir

Happy New Year! I’m delighted to share an intriguing and often funny memoir of mid-20th century life, ‘Amateur’, written by my late father Maurice Pope. Just follow this link to a downloadable PDF:


My father died in August 2019, and you can see notes on his memorial here.

‘Amateur’ spans pre-war and World War II schooldays in England, a journey by flying boat to become a professor of classics in Cape Town, his career in South Africa cut short by apartheid, archaeological expeditions to the Near East, multiple treks across north America, and, in between, flashes of Europe and an account of camping in the Soviet Union.

Here’s one comic description of vocational training in a Royal Navy demobilisation camp:

There was one moment, however, when we might have been involved in a court-martial. It was my fault, and once again, the trouble was my ignorance of spoken English.

The word the petty-officer used was perhaps “nutter”, but I now forget. In any event, I misunderstood. I took it to be the name of a trade in civilian life and asked if he was one. But whatever it was I said, it greatly annoyed him.

“Are you taking the mickey?” he asked.

This was another phrase I had never heard.

“No, where is it?” I answered quite innocently.

He swelled, turned purple, and would, I am quite sure, have knocked me out then and there, if it had not been for the distinction of rank.

My father always called himself an ‘amateur’ because he feared being seen as a dull professional. Indeed, one of his guiding principles was that he would always teach himself how to do things, not be taught – a philosophy with both its ups and downs, as this book relates.

My siblings and I polished up my father’s manuscript and turned it into a book for my parents’ recent 60th wedding anniversary. The link below is to a printable PDF. If you’d like a nice printed version, which would require the printing and postage costs, do message me.

Here’s one of the pictures from the book, showing one of the world’s first underwater archaeological expeditions in 1955, of which my father was a leading light.



Categories: Uncategorized
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  1. June 28, 2021 at 3:18 pm

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