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This report is taken from PN Review 91, Volume 19 Number 5, May - June 1993.

Salute to Pick David Arkell
La Grande Caserne at St Denis, near Paris, was quite a handsome building, though less famous than the nearby Cathedral. Designed in 1756 by Charles-Axel Guillamot for Louis XV's Swiss Guard, it was demolished in 1969 after serving for four years (1940-44) as the British Internment Camp in France.

Some 2,000 expats of all kinds were gathered there, together with Maltese, Cypriots and anyone else owning a British passport. You could find adjoining roomfuls of jockeys from Chantilly and French-speaking priests from Canada. All human life was there and it was there - 50 years ago - that I met Pick.

Probably the best description of my friend Frank Pickersgill was penned by the Canadian newsman McKenzie Porter:

At that time he was a six-foot, prematurely balding blond, so powerfully built that he could have earned his living as a longshoreman. But there was about him - perhaps in his pale complexion and sensitive features, perhaps in his ill-matched and carelessly worn clothes - something that identified him unmis-takeably as a scholar. His hefty frame was slightly off balance owing to deafness in one ear. He trundled lopsidedly rather than walked, talking incessantly to companions of philosophy, religion, history and the arts, his wispy hair fluttering in the breeze and his big arms flailing.


Pick had graduated from Manitoba University, where a fellow student was Marshall McLuhan, and then moved on to Toronto and the Sorbonne. Later, while working in Paris as a ...
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