Well I’m in England. Oxford is a little over an hour on the bus from Heathrow, and as I rolled along the highway the land I saw on either side seemed so domesticated after the woods of New York and New England. I felt a sense of dissatisfaction with the natural world here, as though the density of people in southern England had robbed it of its glory.
But I’m in Oxford, and there are other things to appreciate apart from nature. Here is what you’ll see when you look through the main gate of many of the ancient Oxford colleges: the ‘quad’. The noise of the high street dims and the calm of the scholar’s sanctuary takes over.
This afternoon I had an interesting meeting. I was wondering around Oxford by myself. Walking past New College I poked my head through the main gate, and noticed a ‘no visitors’ sign. Ignoring this with casual trepidation, I walked onwards into the college grounds. Rounding a building I came on a lawn, with some pretty flower beds on one side. A few students were hanging out on the lawn and one of them asked me if I was a photographer. We got to talking and they offered me a glass of sparkling wine.
Tim, on the left, and John, on the right, are English, while Daniel, in the centre is American. We had a jovial argument about the advantages of American and Australian accentless meritocracy over the system of inherited prestige in some parts of Britain, along with plenty of other stuff, and they invited me over to Keeble College later that evening to continue the talking and drinking (Oxford University is a collection of colleges where students live and study).
Here is John in his common room, playing the gentleman at ease.
We went up on the roof of one of the buildings to hang out, and the Victorian brickwork of Keeble glowed quietly beneath us.
There will be more about arriving in England tomorrow.
Ok, I’ll admit that the evening was a bit more eventful than that. There were a bunch of us at Keeble that night getting a bit drunk. About three in the morning or so somebody had the idea of running around the main quod of Keeble college stark naked. Everybody did it. Yep, everybody.