Sunday, November 10, 2013

 
Grotesque, Magdalen College in Oxford
 
AN EXTRACT FROM MY MEMOIR, "OXFORD, A DECADE IN WONDERLAND"
                                  PUNKS AND GOTHS

With clouds like malevolent ghosts looming overhead, we stood, four bedraggled females on the sidewalk in Oxford, the city that Keats the poet thought one of the most beautiful places in the world. In keeping with Britain's reputation, a fine English drizzle soaked into our crumpled travel apparel.
 
After an eight hour flight from Canada, a two hour trundle on a National Express bus from Heathrow Airport, and a hair-raising scramble in a taxi from the bus station, we'd arrived at our temporary accommodations. 
 
At that moment I found it hard to believe the accolades uttered by no less than King James 1.  He said that if he were not a king he would like to be an Oxford man. Hitler reaffirmed King James's infatuation for this ancient city. In the midst of the carnage of World War 11, he issued a threat that death awaited any Nazi fighter pilot foolish enough to bomb his city of choice. Oxford was to be the killer despot's capital once he'd conquered Britain!
 
 As the taxi pulled away, we turned and looked with gloomy gaze upon a sombre red brick Victorian house, home to academics who were at this moment probably sipping wine in a French café.  Ever imaginative, in my mind's eye I could see a bony finger beckoning us in. Inserting the key in the lock we entered. It was dark, it was gloomy, it was not welcoming. I tripped as I caught my foot in a rip in the entrance hall carpet.
 
In a spacious kitchen with scarred pine furniture, a wood stove and plump shabby chairs, a letter propped against a stack of Oxford travel books was first to catch my attention. “Dear Mrs. Gordon” it read. “Welcome to Oxford. I hope you’ll enjoy your stay in our home. Would you be so kind as to feed our cat during your stay. She’s a good little creature but she does yowl at times.” And I glanced up and there she was, “the good little creature”, standing on the kitchen windowsill, wanting entry and clawing at the window. She looked for all the world like an apparition from a Wiccan nightmare.
 
On that rainy afternoon, her tabby pelt was ‘moussed’ to spiky tufts. Yellow eyes, fierce like those of a jungle cat, glared at me through speckled glass. Her teeth when she opened her mouth to yawn were tiny but lethal. Needle-sharp claws, instruments of torture for captive rodents, were fully extended. Then, as warned... she yowled, a spine-tingling sound that would've scared the hell out of the devil. I’m allergic to cats and we were scheduled for a three day visit to friends on a farm in the Peak District. So, what was I supposed to do with this recalcitrant feline? I looked back at the letter in my hand. “Don’t be alarmed if my daughter should call. She’s one of those Goths.”

More to follow tomorrow...

Photograph copyright Anne Gordon

Posted by Anne Gordon on Saturday 9th November, 2013.

1 Comments:

At November 10, 2013 at 5:22 AM , Blogger Bebedores do Gondufo said...

Very good.

 

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