The Coincidence of Novembers: Writings from a life of public service by Sir Patrick Nairne

By Edited by Sandy Nairne£25.00
Status: published
Publication Date: 09.07.2020Available
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About The Book

Why has the month of November had a special significance – a month in which I seem to have often experienced some particular, even notable, event, change, or development? Chalk it up to chance? Difficult to be sure about that.

Sir Patrick Nairne led a remarkable life with a ringside view of history in the making. He fought with the Seaforth Highlanders in North Africa; worked in the post-war Admiralty and Ministry of Defence; organised the first EU Referendum in 1975; led the Department for Health and Social Security; contributed to the Falkland Islands Review Committee; monitored the consultation process in Hong Kong before the territory was handed back to China; and served as the first Chair of the Nuffield Council on bioethics.

Patrick was one of the most notable British civil servants of the twentieth century, and in his later years, after being master of St Catherine’s College, Oxford, began to write about his fascinating life and career.

In The Coincidence of Novembers, Patrick’s son – curator and writer Sandy Nairne – assembles his father’s writings, including autobiographical pieces from his papers, into a volume which offers a snapshot of the range of his thinking and creativity: his first-hand experience of significant events in public affairs, his watercolours, and his meditations on a life spent working for the public good.

Pat Nairne was one of a cohort of civil servants with a shared purpose and promise, believing that everything was achievable, and on the inside track of so many policies and events that punctuated the post-war years. He was truly a broad-gauge man
By Peter Hennessy

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