July 24th, 2009

Fishy Circumstances

Oxford

I'm back from an overnight trip to Oxford, where I attended a wedding that, astonishingly, began early! Everyone was already gathered. We were a comfortably small number in the romanesque St. Giles' Church. It was a moderately informal service, to the degree that we were coached by the vicar when inadequately audible on occasion, and sang the hymns unaccompanied. (I realized I'd never sung "Jerusalem" before, for all the times I've heard it. It's moderately challenging, but I do like a song which features "dark satanic mills".) It was a lovely service and everyone, especially the newlyweds, but also the two people who wore hats, looked very good.

We retired afterwards to The Trout. The man behind me when getting on the bus lives in Wolvercote, and observed that everyone who comes to Oxford goes to The Trout. Suddenly, I felt as if I was repaying a cosmic debt by attending the wedding dinner: all my trips to Oxford balanced out by my pilgrimage to a pub on the banks of the Isis. Out on the patio, we saw small deer skitter by on the opposite shore, admired the resident peacock on the roof, and boggled as two carrier jets - silhouettes the size of large passenger planes - flew slowly by together, nearly wingtip-to-wingtip.

I realized right away that I was seated at the children's table - not literally, but we were all academic siblings, having studied with the same supervisor. It was a delight to catch up with them, and be introduced to other people, some for the sake of common academic ground, others because they were fixtures of my friends' lives, people I knew existed for years, but had never encountered. I met one scholar of spices, and another person who is a potential London dining companion. MIdway through the evening, we drew up our chairs all together, and there were limericks, toasts, and a round of singing "Happy Birthday" to three of us whose birthdays are this week.

I would have gone to the History of Science Museum this morning, had it been open, but it isn't until twelve. So instead, to the market, for cheese, sauce, and fruit, freebies of prepack cereal on Cornmarket, and the train to sushi, and then home.