Monday's Channel 4 programme Masters Of Darkness, relating to Aleister Crowley, brought back memories of a colleague at Oxford Polytechnic, Oliver Wilkinson, who with his wife helped Crowley in his last illness at Hastings.

Oliver's father, who wrote under the pen-name Louis Marlow, had the distinction of both sending a wreath to Oscar Wilde's funeral and reading the Hymn Of Pan at Crowley's funeral. In his Seven Friends, published with Oliver's introduction in 1992, he describes the ceremony, which was held at Brighton Crematorium.

"The ceremony... in the undenominational chapel of the crematorium, can well be described as peculiar and was far from private. On one side were the mourners - most of the women well dressed enough for their clothes to receive detailed mention in the newspaper accounts - and on the other side were the reporters. Facing this sharply divided congregation I obeyed Crowley's written instructions by reading his Hymn Of Pan... occasionally interrupted by ecstatic cries of "Io Pan" from devotees and the words with which Crowley began and ended his letters - "Do what thou wilt shall be the whole of the law" and "Love is the law, love under will" - were interspersed throughout the reading with religious fervour. Some of the mourners grew more and more emotional as the reading went on, while the reporters looked more and more comically bewildered, or nonplussed. Carnations were thrown by a beautiful girl upon the coffin as it slid downwards. When the Brighton Corporation next met they resolved that no such pagan and blasphemous ceremony... should ever again be permitted within their jurisdiction. 'Desecrated by black magic' was one of the headlines then. There has certainly never been a funeral like Crowley's in England, not a public one at any rate."

I ought to add that Louis conceded that his son Oliver "thought Crowley a very dangerous man, though he appreciated his mind and humour and - above all - his strangeness", a view which Oliver communicated to me in the Oxfordshire village where we both lived, shortly before his recent death.

-Geoffrey Stevenson Linchmere Avenue, Saltdean