Monday, 7 February 2011


Visiting friends in Oxfordshire at the weekend, I found myself in demand to conduct a whistle stop tour of the Oxford colleges. Naturally, we ended up at mine, University College. We came in from Logic Lane, making for the chapel. It was a sunless day, and in the dark interior, Abraham van Linge's mid-17th Century glass dazzled us. Can there be a more vivid Jonah and the whale anywhere?

From the chapel, we hastened (via a quick look inside the hall) to leave by the college's back entrance, late for our rendezvous. There was a new - to me - slatted wooden gate barring our way, with a combination lock, but a passing undergraduate kindly opened it for us as he made for the library. Through we went, the door clicking shut behind us, but then... Disaster! The back gates into Kybald Street, 50 yards further on, were firmly locked also. So there we were sandwiched in no man's land.

We had plenty of time to let our imaginations work on a solution: one of my companions suggested climbing back in over the dustbins and the 12-foot wall; but, happily, before we had need to try this, we were able to hail another passer-by inside the college, who came to our rescue with the combination. This has not improved my reputation as a guide to my alma mater.

Incidentally, being a Univ. man, I do hate the abbreviation "uni", as in "Where were you at uni?"

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