Summer reading again. Last summer I got through the first two volumes of Clive James’s ‘Unreliable Memoirs’. I have just finished the third volume, May Week Was in June, covering his period at Cambridge University. In the preface he admits that he hadn’t initially thought of writing beyond the first two volumes. Just occasionally, the commercial imperative shows through; we learn twice, for example, that the chalky blue of a spring sky ‘matched the sundials of Caius’. But May Week Was in June is as rich in wonderful aphorisms and chuckle-enducing one-liners as its predecessors. James went up as what in Oxbridge parlance would be called a ‘mature’ student, meaning he was a little bit older than his fellow undergraduates. He clearly fully exploited this tactical advantage. Among his contemporaries, the young and fiercely impressive Germaine Greer plays a star role and future Monty Python, Eric Idle, is clearly destined for greatness. There are evocative cameo portraits of Florence and Venice in the 1960s – I almost fell out of my chair when he described Florence’s Trattoria Anita – a wonderfully down-at-heel place where I must have eaten most Friday evenings for three years in the 1980s – and there was an uncomfortably familiar ring to his descriptions of Oxbridge undergraduates trying too hard. He is excellent on why even the failures (think of Shelley) never escape Oxbridge’s grip. ‘Where else in the world,’ he laments as he seems finally about to leave the university, ‘would I ever fit in except here, where I had never felt the least urge to fit in?’ It is cheerfully conceited stuff, but the critic is disarmed in anticipation by his cheerful and frank admission to the crime.