22 March 2011

Temps perdus

A spring stroll through Addison's Walk and the Fellows' Garden at Magdalen ... the fritillaries are starting to appear! ... to have a look at the lovely Mosque built in their back garden. It is still unfinished, so, lamentably, not yet is the Cry of the Muezzin heard over the water meadows of the Cherwell. Then along Mesopotamia to the forelorn, desecrated, site of Parsons' Pleasure ... memories, here, of Warden Bowra and those far-off days when undergraduates made endless jokes about Wadhamy (nowadays, of course, the Statutes have been amended so that women undergraduates can commit Wadhamy too).

The site of the Pleasure offers not even an echo of the way it was in the golden heyday of S Stephen's House, when Canon Couratin, so the megale paradosis claims, used to interview prospective seminarians there (not that I have ever met a man who actually was so interviewed). You can't imagine Canon Ward, can you, doing his interviews in that sort of way; though, mind you, if he did, I'm sure he would be wearing the most amazingly dapper sun hat. But now the fences and the divesting cubicles have been flattened and the Curators of the University Parks, a degenerate body of men, have added insult to injury by putting up notices saying NO SWIMMING AND NO DIVING.

So, round the Duck Pond (where we used in the summer to make our morning meditations between Mattins and Mass) and out to Bevington Road, past the house once occupied by Pam's two tutors, the terrifyingly erudite Margaret Hubbard and the somewhat ambiguous Iris Murdoch (Pam and I first met on the stairs there while waiting for a Homer Seminar). St Anne's, once the repository of Oxford's most brilliant and beautiful women undergraduates, is now polluted by hoards of adolescent youths who, in their horrible male way, have renamed it Stans.

Ubi illa vetusta Oxonia? Non sumus quales eramus, as Fr Zed would undoubtedly say.

8 comments:

RichardT said...

The complaint of "hoards of adolescent youths" at St. Anne's is interesting.

A typical rant against such groups would refer to them as "hordes", with the implication of a throng of barbarians.

But "hoards" implies that they have been deliberately gathered together and hidden away at St. Anne's.

Have the University authorities decided to use that once-proud college as cell to keep the least desirable undergraduates away from the rest of Oxford?

Fr Barry Tomlinson said...

Fr, for the benefit of those of us who have no connection with Oxford; what is wadhamy?

Fr John Hunwicke said...

Pedantry, pedantry. I dashed that off at the crack of dawn before hitting the road to Allen Hall.

Wadhamy is, quite simply, the vice of having been at a (post-Reformation) College called Wadham. Of which Maurice Bowra was Warden.

RichardT said...

Ah, Father, not pedantry at all, but merely the search for deeper meaning.

In my time (post-change) I did sometimes suspect that St Anne's must have some such purpose. How else to account for its undergraduate membership?

motuproprio said...

Ah! Ou sont les neiges d'antan?

johnf said...

Why are you looking forward to the cry of the muezzin echoing over the dreaming spires of Oxford, Father?

ardmacha said...

"Well did the sons of Wadham insure their house from flame,
They knew their crime to be the sin of Sodom
And they judged their penalty might be the same."
But what a gift to the rhymster.
Alan Robinson

ardmacha said...

"Well did the sons of Wadham insure their house from flame,
They knew their crime to the sin of Sodom
And they judged the penalty might be the same."
But what a gift to the rhymster.
Alan Robinson